Do you know where you are? Do you know where you are headed? Those seem to be two questions that many people in the world don’t have an answer for and don’t seem to care that they don’t. We live in a world where personal desires take center stage and “where I’m at” and “where I’m headed” are answered by “getting what I want” and “having the good life” (whatever each person decides that is).
Going down this path seems to work out for most, until a storm comes up to rock the boat they’re in. This year, the world we live in, and in particular, we in the United States, have had our boat rocked – haven’t we? We’re not used to being told we can’t go where we please and do what we want. We struggle with friends and family alike because we find the extremes in both our families and among our friends – from those who think this virus thing is over-blown to those who are very afraid. So how do we find any sense of peace?
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell the story of the Disciples having a rocky time in a boat they were in. They were on the Sea of Galilee when a storm came up that threatened to swamp the boat (and I think many feel like this now). What they did is a reminder to what we should be doing. They sought help from Jesus. Jesus had been asleep in the stern of the boat, and the obvious question you might ask is, “How could he be sleeping through a storm?”
There are a few things I want you to take away from this story and work to put them into place in your life during our present storm of Covid-19 and racial unrest. First, just as Jesus could sleep through a storm because of his confidence that God, the Father, was in control – take a deep breath, relax just a little, and remind yourself – God is still in control. He didn’t cause the storm, but He can certainly work through it for good for those who put their faith and trust in Him (Romans 8:28).
Second (and this has been my prayer for some time now) turn your heart to Jesus. I know this country has people of many different faiths, and it is right and just to respect each other’s beliefs, but it seems like the further the Christian community has turned from Jesus – the more and stronger the storms that have come upon us. This comes back to the questions I asked at the beginning of this article. If you are truly a follower of Jesus Christ, you know the answer to both questions. When my focus is on serving others in the name of Jesus, I am right where He wants me. It makes no difference if you are a pastor or not. If you have a focus on serving your brothers and sisters in Christ, then you are exactly where God wants you. A funny thing happens then. With your focus on others, you tend to forget about the problems – the storm – you were facing.
As far as the second question, there is only one destination for followers of Christ – paradise. Yes, paradise! God created it at the beginning with His desire to share it with his children – us. That is still His desire – to lead His followers back to paradise.
Remember, we are in the boat together. The more we pull together and pray for each other and love each other, the easier it becomes to weather the storm. We can do this – together!
The writer is the pastor of the Anna and Botkins United Methodist churches.