Much of last week is a blur in my head because it was so busy! We had five different groups coming through who we (Eric and I) were personally responsible for. We love to introduce people to Ishinomaki and our friends here — that part is a joy! — but many visitors plus some out-of-the-ordinary activities made for an extremely busy week.
What I do remember from last week, though, was a small part of a Sunday morning message that a friend shared at our Be One house church. It was from the story of Jesus in the boat with the disciples when the bad storm came. Jesus wakes up, calms the storm, and then chastises the disciples for their little faith.
This week, that image has stayed in my heart. Pretty much each and every day I have felt to some degree like I have been in a boat surrounded by a storm. My dad’s health has continued to deteriorate, and there have been family issues making it very challenging to get him moved into an appropriate facility. Daily phone calls and emails to family – mostly late night and early morning — and relational challenges at Nozomi Project have sucked a lot of life out of me in recent days. My boat has felt tossed quite a bit.
On Thursday we had a leadership training time with five of our staff at Nozomi Project. I shared this passage, and what I have been thinking about while sitting with this passage this week:
1) The most important thing in the midst of a storm is recognizing the presence of Jesus with us, and helping others to recognize Him as well. The disciples assumed that because Jesus was asleep, he was inactive or incapable of working. Jesus was disappointed with their faith — their inability to just know that because Jesus was there, they could trust Him. Awake or asleep, busy or not busy. I have been quite guilty of this same lack of faith — deep in my heart, thinking that because God hasn’t immediately answered prayers that He may not really be aware… or that He has sort of, well, been asleep in certain situations. Oh, my own lack of faith! And God is calling me to make His presence known to others in my boat also experiencing storms. For some reason, it is during the storms of our lives that it is the hardest to acknowledge/remember/trust in His presence with us.
2) God wants me to be a “non-anxious presence” in the midst of the storm. If we are cognizant of God’s presence in our lives, we can reflect that peace and confidence in how we respond. I’m really not good at this! But I sense God wanting me to trust Him more and show those around us that faith by being one who doesn’t panic, but instead brings peace. I remember years ago hearing the phrase of “non-anxious presence.” It’s certainly not a character trait that comes naturally to me; but I do think as we dwell in the boat with awareness of the presence of Jesus that He will strengthen our faith and help us to put on the same calm demeanor that he had when he woke up, looked around, and calmed the storm.
Help my unbelief!