Matthew and I have been in full time ministry together for a long time. We’ve had some stellar experiences serving the church, and some less than stellar ones. If the church is made up of fallible people, and it is, you can imagine some of the shenanigans that can go on. This is nothing new. People of faith have longstanding reputations for bad behavior. It’s part of our charm.
I recall a particularly challenging period about six or seven years ago. It seemed as if things were never going to smooth out in the church we were serving. Controversy followed controversy, and in a fit of desperation, I emailed a spiritual and ministry mentor of ours and asked the question,“How do you continue to do this?” His answer is one I will never forget, and it changed my perspective on life’s storms.
He said, “When the storms of life come, and they do, I raise my sail and ride it out. I am always eager to see where I’ll end up, and I trust God in that. It’s always an adventure.”
Seeing life’s storms as adventure takes some practice. When the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee, and a storm came up quickly, (Matthew 8:23-27) they were sure their boat was going to capsize and that they would all perish. They did not see the storm as an adventure. They panicked. There was one small detail, though, that should have made all the difference. Jesus was in that boat with them. He was riding out the same storm they were… and he was asleep! I’d like to think if I was in a boat in the middle of a storm, and Jesus was with me in the boat, that I wouldn’t panic. I’d like to think that, wouldn’t you?
It’s easy to say things like, “God is in control” when life is smooth sailing. It’s an entirely different thing to say it in the middle of life’s storms. It’s much easier to lose all control and freak out then. In all likelihood, I will be facing a storm soon. I can see it on the horizon, which is a bit of an advantage, really. Most storms hit us like the one that hit the disciples that day on the sea. Unexpectedly and completely out of nowhere. Either way, when storms come, we have a choice to make. We can freak out and go into full on panic mode, or we can raise the sail and ride it out, realizing that Jesus is in the boat with us.
Our faith is truly tested during these times, and we find out just how strong it actually is. Do we really trust him, or are we giving him lip service? If you’ve trusted Jesus for a while, take a look back. Has he ever let you down? You’ve had some hard days, but you made it through, right? I’m going with a yes on that one. After all, you are here reading this blog piece. The disciples had a history with Jesus, too. That’s why Jesus didn’t understand their panic over the storm. It’s like he wanted to know, “What’s the deal? Have you met me?”
I’ve decided to pass on panic this time. It doesn’t serve us well anyway. It leads to bad hair days and even worse, poor choices. I’m unpacking my sail, I’m shaking it out, and beginning to figure out how to hoist it for the biggest gain. I’m going to keep my head. I’m going to look back and remember all the storms we’ve already sailed together, Jesus and I, and I’m going to enjoy this ride. I can’t wait to see where we end up! Bring on the adventure!