(Next worship gathering – July 16th, 6:30pm, in the St. Johns Room at FCC – 3450 CR210, 32259)
At a Men’s Conference, I heard it said that every man is either going into, going through, or coming out of a storm. The speaker was making the point: storms are universal for men. I think it’s no less true for women or for children. Storms are as universal for human beings.
Storms are common, too. When I studied pastoral care, I learned that people face a major crisis, on average, once every four years. After about two decades of ministry, all I can say is, “yep.” Storms come into every life as sure as they come around on hot summer afternoons in Florida.
The question is not if you will have to go through storms in this life. The question is how you’ll face them.
You find some good storm stories in the Bible. In one, the disciples are sailing as a group across the sizable, deep, fresh-water lake also known as the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was exhausted after a long day of work, and was asleep in the boat. In the middle of the journey, a storm popped up. It was a big one, because a group of men who’d spent their life on the water were afraid. They woke Jesus who looked around and rebuked the waves and wind telling them to be still. The waves and wind humbly obeyed. Then he rebuked the disciples with a question: “where’s your faith?” And they were amazed and asked, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!”
Into, through, and out of a storm. I don’t know where their faith was in that storm. The more important consideration, I believe, is the condition of their faith the next time. And for those guys, life would be one storm after another, just as it will be for us.
I wonder how they handled the next one?
I suspect they had more love, courage, grace, and hope in future storms because 1) they knew they would be going through them with Jesus and 2) they were able to go through them with one another. It’s simple really, but because of that, they would have been able to remind each other that Jesus was greater than wind, waves, or anything else the storm could through at them. They had experience. They could encourage each other, reassure each other, give hope to one another, and do so from a place of confidence.
Those two realities point to two foolish choices people often make. 1) People choose to go it alone. Storms are frightful things. When you are stuck in them, your fears can play tricks on you, leading you to think that the storm is bigger than it really is, causing you to wonder where Jesus is. Fatigue, worry, anxiety, blaming, and despair are all more likely when we’re alone. 2) People choose to go through the day without Jesus, without him during the times of quiet when “the storms” are not raging. Going without Jesus during those times makes us less likely to know how to call on him in the middle of one.
You know, we are pretty intentional about Up-In-and-Out living. Up – cultivating a relationships with God. In – cultivating a close relationship with some others. Out – going out to meet the worlds needs with God’s love, grace, and power. I am seeing that such a lifestyle not only imitates the life of Jesus, but it opens us up to the work of God in us and around us. It creates the kind of relationships that keep storms in place for us, and that creates a safe place for others who find themselves caught in life’s storms.
A few questions:
- How are you cultivating a closer relationship with God each day? (Up)
- Who’s investing in you and who are you investing in? In other words, are you connected to a group of people who are helping you to live Up-In-Out? (In)
- Is your lifestyle creating a place where others find refuge and encouragement as they go through storms? (Out)
May the Lord grant you all that you need as you go into, through, and out of the storms of this season.