Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Calming the Raging Storm

Jesus Stilling the Tempest by James Tissot

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” --Mark 4:35-41

I had a profound and important experience of this Gospel passage Sunday morning. 
Sunday, I would be meeting again with the Convocational Discernment Committee in Albany, Georgia. These meetings are not comfortable places for me to be. As I described in the previous post, it feels as though I'm being taken out into the wilderness. There are no sign posts, no markings, no place for me to be sure of where I'm going as I field questions and attempt--repeatedly--to explain myself and why I'm feeling called to ordained ministry. The metaphors that have cropped on these trips are just way too rich and plentiful: my phone's GPS doesn't work at different key moments of finding my way through the south Georgia countryside. And, on the way home from my first meeting, I was re-directed along a road that was totally unfamiliar and took me six miles out of the way of where I was trying to go and left me wondering if I was destined to drive in circles all night. 
This is when the God came crashing, as it were, into my early morning dreams. In this one, I found myself recalling the Mark Gospel lesson from a few days ago when Jesus is asleep in the boat and the storm kicks up and the disciples are in a panic as the waves are crashing and rocking them in their sea vessel. They rush to Jesus and demand that he wakes up.
"Jesus!!!" they were screaming. "Jesus, get up!! Save us!! We're all gonna die!"
Weary and sleepy Jesus gets up, goes to the front of the boat, raises his hands and calls for the stormy seas to "knock it off!" And they did. And Jesus looks at the disciples, still rubbing his eyes, and says, "Where's your faith? You know, I got this!" and goes back to bed, leaving them all awe struck. 

As I was dreaming about this lesson, I kept mulling it over and attempting to figure out, "Who needs to know 'Don't panic. Relax. Jesus has got this.'" What group of people in our society need to know this simple message?

I woke up, still letting this dream work through me. Waves crashing over the boat must have felt unsettling. They must not have known that the storm was coming when they set sail, and so this might have come on suddenly and caught them off guard. I likened this feeling to what happens in life when we are faced with numerous challenges and strife. 

That's when it hit me: who needs to know to be still and know that God has got this? Me.

I realized that I had been thrashing. My first meeting with the CDC had left me rattled and I needed this assurance that Jesus would calm the storms.

I did need that. As I waited for the committee to call me into the room with them, I could feel the anxiety rising up inside me.

"What are they saying? What more do they need to know? What curve balls will be thrown at me?"

I tapped back into the dream...and breathed slowly and deeply. I envisioned Jesus standing before me and commanding the anxiety in my head and heart to cease. 

"Be still. Be still and know that I am with you." 

This helped. It kept me grounded, and prepared me for Round Two with the CDC. I think it even helped to give me the ability to have a better conversation with the committee. I started the meeting with various acknowledgments of things I had thought and prayed about after I left them the last time. I included in that prayerful consideration the realization of being able to trust and let go. 

Thank you, Jesus. 

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