Tag Archives: storm

in & with

29 Aug

IMG_6327

Around the time hormones started messing up my little girl brain, my family took several snowmobile trips in the winter playground of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After driving 8-10 hours, we left cars (with keys in them in case they needed moving for the snowplow) at the last plowed crossroads, tied everything we needed for a week onto toboggans behind Arctic Cats and Ski-Doos, and floated through feet of snow into the white wilderness. I loved the beautiful virgin scenery, but I was the only cautious one in a long line of sleds. Other drivers got stuck and rescued from driving too fast into the unknown well before I got to there. I chugged along at the rear of the line way behind everyone else on the tracks they blazed. Holding everyone else up made me embarrassed and frustrated with myself.

A couple of hours into the early northern darkness, we arrived at camp and unloaded by sled headlights. The cabin was the same temperature as the air outside – every chair, table, and piece of fabric – including bedding – stole heat from anything above zero. We kept our snow suits, even our mittens, on and wished the heat of the fire in the stone fireplace into every corner way faster than physics could keep up. Rather than wedge ourselves into a circle around the small fire (there were about 15 of us), most of us kids headed for bed. Without water to wash up and brush our teeth (snow had to be melted on the cookstove to prime the pump), we lugged sleeping bags and blankets up the ladder into the (even colder) upstairs dorm room. I rolled out my bag on a creaky top bunk and climbed in with my snowsuit still on leaving only a breathing hole for my nose and mouth.

And then it began.

I sobbed, shaking uncontrollably. I didn’t like being the center of attention or exposing raw emotion, and that made me cry harder. After a few minutes, my dad came up and asked what he could do for me. It was sweet for him, but I was really embarrassed about the crying and probably said something like, “I’m OK.” He went back downstairs, and I started crying again. I wept until I fell into an exhausted and stressed-out sleep.

———-

After being gone on a ministry tour during which they healed people and drove out demons, the disciples witnessed an incredible miracle. Somehow they had fed 5000 men (with women and children) using a couple of fish and loaves of bread. Immediately after, Jesus sent them off by boat, and he went up the mountain to pray.

They were most likely exhausted mentally and physically as they struggled to row against a storm that came up. (I can imagine as they boarded they assumed the nightly land breeze would enable them to sail across without effort as they slept.) If this isn’t enough, they see a ghost walking toward them on the water!

At this point Jesus did something beautifully simple. When the disciples called out in fear, he got in the boat with them.

Presence is powerful.

In my preteen hysteria, I didn’t know what I needed. Looking back, I think I just needed my daddy to hold me. I needed him. He wanted to “fix it” for me; he didn’t realize he was the fix.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

In the account of these events in Mark  6 Jesus gave the disciples (and us) a concrete picture of one aspect of what takes place during worship. After the disciples had come to the end of themselves and their ability, life continued to hammer them. In their fear and exhaustion they needed Jesus. And he shows up!

Much is said about relationship when talking about worship– for good reason. The disciples didn’t need intellectual assistance or advice. Another boat coming to the rescue wouldn’t have been much help. They needed their Teacher, their Lord, and he climbed in the boat with them.

He was, and still is, the fix.

 

 

 

Unchanged and not the Same

5 Apr

Highpoint wall

The chapter and verse don’t matter.

During the morning I read a friend’s sermon and planned the songs to close out the worship service later that night.

My cell vibrated just as my friend started preaching. I left the room to take the call from my son. Family trumps ministry for me. (Or maybe I should say that family is my first ministry.)

He was upbeat as he shared he didn’t have a hernia. Instead he has cancer.

We talked a little about treatment and insurance. Since he had just came from a series of medical appointments, he didn’t have many details yet. But he does have cancer.

I went back to the service and to the sermon– the same sermon but not the same.

It could have been any chapter and verse. The point is that my circumstances changed, and I was now listening to the same sermon I had read a couple of hours earlier from a different perspective.

What I found was that the Truth remained unchanged. Even though I heard it through being in a different place in life, the foundation was still solid.

Nothing about my new circumstances changes the Truth of God.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In a world where changes happen faster than anyone can comprehend, this alone is reason to worship God.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Before leading a song about God’s faithfulness that night, I shared my news – not for shock effect (although people were shocked!), but to give glory to God for his unchangeable truth even in– especially in– my changed circumstances

Interestingly, the sermon text was John 17, specifically he was on verses 1-5 about giving God glory. I came back from my phone call to hear my friend say: “You have to choose to give God glory. Jesus didn’t receive glory for his own sake, but in order that the Father would be glorified. If we don’t choose to glorify God, we take God’s glory for ourselves.”

When all else is upside-down and backwards, giving God glory turns me upright. I focus on his power, not my situation, putting my sites on his unchanging Truth when life is disorienting.

Much like a lighthouse anchors every direction in a ship captain’s soul when waves have turned the ship around and tossed the compass overboard, God is steady. He is with us through the turbulence, and he is also above the chaos.

I worship him for this. And even when I am wind-whipped, I can lead others to him.

He is constant.

Alleluia!

 

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