Monday, June 22, 2009

...staying "onboard"


my personal struggles, financial & otherwise..
are no secret from my regular readers...
if I still have any due to the ISP shortage...
and lack of internet time...

yesterday, in church...
our young rector spoke on Mark 4:35-5:20...
this Gospel lesson has several parts...
it begins with Jesus & the disciples...
boarding a boat on the Sea of Galilee...

during the night, a fierce storm came up...
filling the disciples with fear...
they woke Jesus, who was sleeping soundly...
complaining that He was unconcerned for their safety...

Jesus calmed the wind & sea with a word...
they were all astonished at His power over nature...
then He asked them why they had been so afraid...
"Have you no faith ?"

the rector's point at this juncture...
was to point out that God will often bring us...
to the edge... of our faith...our fears...our strength...
before He calmly rescues us, building our faith in Him...

further points included the facts that they were headed...
to a place no "good Jewish men" went, the land of the Gerasenes...
who were pagans, raised pigs & even worshiped a pig god...
and before He calmed the storm, the disciples...
had probably been convinced that they were going to die...
going to that evil place for a reason they didn't understand...

when they reached the shore and left the boat...
they were met by a demoniac...
a man with an unclean spirit who lived among the tombs...
the evil spirits were so strong in him...
that chains no longer could hold him...
day & night, he bruised himself with stones...
trying to drive out his demons to no avail...

now, he ran to Jesus & worshiped him...
the unclean spirit within him cried out to Jesus...
Jesus asked his name & the unclean spirit said "Legion"...
meaning that there were many unclean spirits within him...

the spirits begged to be sent into a nearby heard of swine...
so Jesus commanded the unclean spirits to leave the man...
& enter the herd of swine...who ran over the edge of a cliff...
and drowned in the sea...leaving their herdsmen to flee...

local people who came to see what had caused this...
found the demoniac in his right mind...
sitting & conversing with Jesus...
he wanted to join Jesus, but was told to return home...
and tell his friends what Jesus had done for him...

the rector's points about this part of the story...
were that "when you get in the boat...
you don't know where you're going...
you have to trust God to sustain you...
and once that the trials are past...
you never know what job God will have for you...

and you'll never find out just how powerful God is...
or how He can bless you & use you to bless others...
if you don't get into that boat...
even if you think you know the destination...
and are sure that it's not the place for you..."

so I'm taking this all in...
realizing that this had been the reason...
that I had made it to church that morning...
[I had overslept & woke up at 9:40 AM...
church starts at 10 AM...]

I've been overcome by storms & terrible seas lately...
seeing only the darkness, feeling only the pain...
& I'd try to calm the storm myself...
but I need to wake up Jesus because my faith is not enough, yet...

He's throwing me lifelines...
scripture, songs, smiles & the kindnesses of friends...
but I have to stay in the boat...
& become so calm that I too, can still the raging storms...
without and within...

for faith is built in calmness...
and no true work of God may be accomplished in fear...

"Protect me, O Lord, for your sea is so big...
and my boat is so small..."

[Breton fisherman's prayer]

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