Saturday, November 30, 2013
Perhaps peace comes in a steeping hot bath after the kids have gone to bed or perhaps you have known precious little peace since your spouse died and the stillness that often accompanies peace is just too much to bear because you live all alone in an all-too-quiet house. Whatever the case, true peace seems increasingly difficult to find these days. There IS a way.
Today I am writing you about a friend of mine where I work. She was raised Catholic but is currently not a church-goer and, in this sinner's opinion, is not a believer in Jesus Christ. In a conversation a few years ago she told me "Jesus could never forgive me for some of the things I've done." She's probably in her late 40's or early 50's, smokes and drinks, sometimes to excess.
A few years ago she lost her best friend to cancer. Her friend did not believe in God. She was a nurse and placed all of her faith in her doctors because that's all she knew. It was the doctors . . . or nothing. And now . . . she has nothing. She has been lost for all time.
My friend at work was really impacted by the death of her friend. Yet, on the times I have spoken to my friend about Jesus, she seems rather unimpressed. I was reminded of my friend as I read a passage from John 6 this week. The story of Jesus walking on the water.
"16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading." - John 6:16-21
Let me see if I can explain the earthly situation of my friend, and many others among us for that matter, by using the words in bold as my talking points.
Every one of us starts out like the disciples did. "They got into a boat." The boat is our life's journey. We got into it when we were born. When we leave the boat our journey here on earth will be over. We will have, as they say, crossed over to the other side.
"It was dark." What a perfect description for the world in which we live. It's cold and dark and it is, for the most part, totally without The Light - Jesus, as he is known in scripture. Jesus is The Light of the World. And do you know why this world, and many of the people in it are "dark"? Spiritually dark? Because The Light, "Jesus had not yet joined them."
Then, "the waters grew rough." Those are the "storms" we encounter in each of our lives. They are the broken relationships, the accidents, the illnesses. They are the divorces, the addictions and the deaths that each of us can face in this life. For my friend at work it was the death of her best friend.
Sometimes the struggles we face are abrupt and pack a powerful punch. Sometimes they are long and drawn out. Sometimes is seems as if we have "rowed about three or for miles." That's a long distance to row during a violent storm. What a struggle! But then something incredible happened. "They saw Jesus." They even "saw Him walking on the water" but still "they were frightened."
At some point in our lives we all have the opportunity to hear about Jesus. We all have the opportunity to come to know Him. Maybe were not quite sure what to do. The disciples were unsure and they already believed in Him! But then Jesus did something. He calmed their fears. He reassured those in the boat by saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”
Maybe my friend needs to see a miracle in her life. Maybe she needs proof. Maybe she's like Thomas and needs to see the scars in His hands and in His side. Maybe my friends need to be reassured somehow. Perhaps that's MY role, to reassure her by my witness, by my testimony of how Jesus calmed the storms in MY life. But ultimately, my friend has got to make the decision. She has to feel calm and reassured about things. She must become more afraid of the storm that she is about any pending leap of faith. My friend must become willing "to take Him into the boat." Her boat. Her life. She must become the willing recipient of Gods free gift - forgiveness of sins. All she must do is repent of her sins and allow Jesus to come aboard. As soon as she does that, the long, stormy journey will be over . . . "immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading."
Those of us who believe have all allowed Jesus to enter our boats. We are all anxiously standing on that distant shore, staring out to sea, hoping to spot another arriving boat headed for shore. Each time Jesus rescues another boat, another life, from imminent destruction we, who have made it to shore, cheer. We cheer because another life has been saved from a fate that is literally worse than death.
And so it is that I seek your prayers for my friend. We need to pray for those who are about to encounter the decisive storms in their lives. Perhaps God will soften their hearts and they receive enough courage from above for them to allow Jesus to enter their boats, to take control and allow Jesus to calm their storms. Then, and only then, will they know the TRUE meaning of peace.
Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby & David Bowie