Calm in the Storm

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. I think they set us up for failure a lot of the time because the new year doesn’t necessarily mean a new me, as much as I would like for it to. In the last town I lived in, choosing a “word of the year” was a big tradition so I begrudgingly chose one. I drew from a big pile of words without looking because I didn’t really plan to take the word to heart until I saw my word. My word was “adapt.” It felt pretty significant for me, but I wasn’t sure why.

Little did I know the adapting that God had in store: youth online, new state, new job, new people, youth online again. I struggled in the first bit of this year (and on the more difficult days, I still do) with the lack of control.

The story of Jesus calming the storm has been my home base this year for scripture reading. The story is probably familiar to you, but for a refresher, check out Mark 4:35-41. Peace is at the heart of this story. Jesus knew the storm ahead, and yet, he took a nap. The disciples woke him up, asking if he even cared if they drowned.

The disciples thought they had already figured out how the story would end. They woke him up because they didn’t like where things were headed and were eager for a change at that moment. If they couldn’t control this themselves, Jesus needed to get moving. They woke him up because they believed he wasn’t handling the situation, and we can tell by the way they were surprised that it ended that they sure didn’t think he could handle it. Jesus’s presence alone should have been enough to bring the disciples peace, but fear took over.

It’s easy to look at the disciples in this story and think Thank goodness I have more faith than that. I would’ve let Jesus take his snooze and known he’s got it under control. It’s easy to think that our faith is bigger, but what storms are you trying to control yourself?

If you’re like me, you might have tried with all your might to calm the storm yourself more times than not. Maybe you’ve been the one to say Jesus, do you even care if I drown? How do we get a sliver of that peace?

We release our grip. In the storm, I hold tightly to things that feign control. But all that the gripping so tightly does is make my hands too tired for serving. My hands and my heart get exhausted in trying so hard to do God’s job and control everything. When trying so hard to do God’s job, I normally don’t do great in my own job: to follow.

So in the storm, we have a few options. We can panic. It makes sense. This storm is uncomfortable and ugly. This year, it’s done a lot of damage. Both the storm we see in the pandemic and any personal storm that you might be weathering are intimidating. So we can panic. We can attempt control. We can stress ourselves to a breaking point.

Or we can trust our God. We can trust that God is in control, and he will have his way. We can stop spinning our wheels trying to fix everything. We can say, “Lord, have your way,” over and over until we know we really mean it. And then we should probably say it a bunch more times just to make sure we still do.

The “Lord, have your way” peace acknowledges that God is always bringing us back to him. It acknowledges that he is our Father, adopting all of us orphans into his family. It acknowledges that Jesus is the great liberator, freeing the oppressed in the new kingdom. It acknowledges that life has purpose and you have significance in Christ. This peace acknowledges that for all of our sin, there is forgiveness. And it acknowledges that we don’t have to do these storms alone anymore. That’s the only way we will find peace in them. Peace doesn’t mean we don’t hurt, but it does mean we know that God is in control.

So in the year of adapting, we can feel a little frazzled. We crave the consistency of a schedule, the predictability of going to school in person every day, and the confidence of writing down plans in pen instead of pencil. But in every storm, we can say, “Lord, have your way.”

 

 

Taylor Parsons