One summer in my late teens I went on a rafting trip with a good friend and her boyfriend’s family. This family had been doing this for many years and had a lot of experience on the river. I had never done anything like that before and was clueless as to what I was getting myself into. Before getting into the rafts, the boyfriend’s father gave us a brief training session. He told us that if we were to ever get thrown from the raft we needed to relax and not panic. He proceeded to say that the river would eventually spit us back up to the surface, so we needed to allow the river to do what it does. Panic would cause us to fight against river and put us into a more dangerous situation. That proved to be some life-saving advice for me later on. After the second or third rapid our raft flipped while going through another and I ended up stuck under the raft. The initial falling caused a deep panic as I began to gasp for air; however, I remembered those words. “Relax, the river will spit you back up.” So, I took in a deep breath and let the river be in control. Sure enough, after getting pulled underwater through the rapid, the river calmed and spit me up. And I could breathe again. It was terrifying and I truly believe those words saved my life.
Jesus spoke similar words in a familiar Bible story that I believe are life-giving in this season of crazy.
In Mark 4:35-41 Jesus and his disciples head out across a lake on a boat where they encounter a storm. The men become frantic and look to Jesus only to see that He is sleeping. They awaken Him with accusation. He calms the storm and rebukes them for their fear.
I can imagine the panic they felt was similar to my experience on that rafting trip. The storm raging, water filling the boat while putting all their effort into keeping it afloat. I’d imagine their lives were flashing through their minds, thoughts of loved ones they may not see again. And the one person that could do something to help them was asleep. As anxiety and fear overwhelmed them, they woke up Jesus by yelling at him. “Don’t you care about what is going on?!”
Sound familiar? Current events have produced storms that have shaken the very fabric of our lives. It seems there is no end in site and the hope of going back to normal continues to fade away. What are we to do? How are we to respond? The weight of all the decisions to be made in this hour can be overwhelming to say the least. I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who has shaken my fists at Jesus in these last few months.
Now for those words of Jesus I mentioned earlier. “Peace, be still!” Just like how that man told me to relax through the rapids, Jesus speaks peace to our hearts. Every time a wave hits…peace, be still.
I believe there is an invitation into peace in this season. We can experience it by laying down in the boat next to Jesus. We need to stop bailing the water out of the boat. Surrender…lay down all the decisions..stop looking at the storm…get down next to Jesus.
What does it look like practically?
- Change your focus. Spend time with Jesus in His word rather than watching the news or bingeing on social media. Consistent time with the Lord will enable your spirit to be at peace and better equip you navigate the stormy waters of life. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever honorable, whatever is just, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Phil 4:8-9
- Surrender. Through prayer bring every fear, anxiety or decision before the Lord. Acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus in those areas. Repent where it’s needed. Ask him to guide you. “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7
- Thanksgiving. This is a divinely powerful weapon that often gets overlooked. One of the best ways to experience a change in attitude, mood or perspective on anything is to spend time thanking God. Just try it! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be know to everyone. The Lord is at hand;” Phil 4:4-5
Friends, we can thrive in a season of uncertainty. Jesus is with us in the boat and we do not need to be afraid. The waters may rage but they will spit us back up when we stop fighting and relax. Put your faith in God, trust the process and live in peace. I’ll leave you with this final scripture.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.Psalm 46 ESV