Complete Surrender (A Poem)

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When the sails have been lofted

And the gusts of winds,

Not in our favor, have shifted

All of our hopes and dreams

Sometimes finding jagged rocks

Upon distant shores.

As foam and tide clasp

And then collide

We ride on…broken

yet still alive. 

Other times we cling to

These water logged

life boats,

bailing out bucket-fulls

praying in earnest

that we find safe harbor…

we yearn, we labor

savoring these remaining

ounces of courage

all the while

depleted reserves

left in our spiritual storage

of reservoirs are the only things

that have run dry.

The tides continue to

Beat their tribal drums

thumping against our feeble plans.

Could it be, perhaps

The Divine  waiting

In earnest yet lovingly

on our complete and

 utter capitulations?

A Survival Guide to the Storms of life

“Make haste, O God, to deliver me!  Make haste to help me, O Lord!  Let them be ashamed and confounded who seek my life; Let them be turned back and confused who desire my hurt.  Let them be turned back because of their shame…” -Psalm 70:1-3

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Is there a storm brewing?

Do you have burdens?

Are you going through a storm right now?

How do we get through these situations?  How do we overcome them, when possible? These are difficult questions and unfortunately there aren’t any easy answers here.  But what I do know and what others know is that going through the storms and surviving requires a supernatural power to journey with us.

Cue Bob Marley and his song “Don’t Worry About a thing – three little birds.”  We need to understand that when we are aligned with God’s will and his power that our burdens and our problems become His burdens and his problems.  That makes it so much more clearer then when we read what Jesus said about our burdens and his burdens:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) 

What Jesus is essentially saying is that though burdens exist, though we face them, that if we allow him access to them and surrender them we will experience a lightening of our load and our worry.  We were never meant to carry these things on our own.

Here are three prescriptions that will help us when we face and weather the storms of life.  If we adhere to these prescriptions we will survive and even thrive!

1) Prayer!

Don’t think for a minute that prayer is a last resort or that prayer is like casting out wishes into the universe and hoping that someone will hear you.  It is not like being on a deserted island and throwing a message in a bottle out into the sea hoping someone will find it…no!  Prayer is so much more powerful than that!  Prayer isn’t just hoping someone will hear you utter some desperate words, prayer is knowing we aren’t alone and that God’s power is accessible through all of life’s situations and mysteriously and amazingly they transcend time and space.  Meaning if there was one thing that could penetrate the science realm of space and time prayer is it.  God doesn’t work the way we do via a linear approach, God is outside of time and space and will intercede and protect us even before we utter the prayers that keep us connected to him.  When we pray, make sure it’s not just prayers in crisis…but pray to Him as a daily, even minute by minute conversation.  As difficult as this may sound, communing and conversing with him can lift many a burden before the storms arrive.  Do not underestimate prayer and its essential nature, nor its power.

2) Intercessory Prayer & the Fellowship of the Believers:

We are not alone in this world…so why do we continually think that we cannot share our burdens with other Christ followers in whom we trust?  Do we fear ridicule?  Do we fear being vulnerable before others?  We need the body of Christ more than just in the storms of life, but we ought to recognize that if the early church and its Apostles needed support then who are we to assume that we do not need help?  The fellowship of believers is vital to our continuation in the faith and another prescription by which we can weather the storms.  Galatians 6:2 says, Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  It’s pretty clear isn’t it?  We are in this together and so we should be there for one another through thick and thin.  Do you have a home church?  Do you trust other believers within your church to help you?  If you don’t have a church or a fellowship in which you belong you are missing out on the amazing support and care that comes with the connected body of Christ.

3) Service

I know, it sounds strange.  How can we serve when we are riding each ebb and flow of this present storm surge?  The answer is faith.  If we have this continued prayer conversation with our Lord, and we have or are continually surrendering our burdens to him in the midst of the storm then what service does is put feet to our faith.  What we are essentially saying is that despite the storms we will serve the Lord.  We can’t stay stuck or static in the process of the tumult.  We have to get on with it and serve him the best that we can.  Service in the storm is two fold: a) We let his praises be glorified despite our circumstances and we acknowledge that it’s not about us but it’s about him.  b) We will be so immersed in serving God that there will be times that we will forget about our present storms.  This isn’t to say that they will go away if we ignore them, but rather when we are serving him, we are fulfilling the Lord’s prayer when we say the words ‘your will be done’…we are living it in this manner.

These are just three prescriptions to help us amidst the storms of life.  There might be more helps along the journey, but these are central to our victories through the power of the storm tamer – Jesus Christ.

Here’s to survival and to thriving in the midst of our burdens and storms:

2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in (victory) triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

 

A Sloop, A Squall, A Savior

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The Rabbi finishes his teaching and instructs his followers to get into the boat and head out into the lake.  He settles himself down into the creaking bow as the sounds of the water lapping and splashing become his lullaby.  He is exhausted from human contact and needs to rest for just a little while.  With his eyes closed and his breathing a rhythmic tune for the sandman, his disciples chatter about the day.  What did Jesus mean about the mustard seed?  Were they to go out and gather this seed to become great leaders of faith like him?  Their conversation continued while a couple of the disciples cast out nets to bide their time in the dusk of the day.  Their learned profession casting nets into the waters would inevitably feed them tonight.   

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Out of the East a rumble is heard.  The wary fishermen are all too familiar with the temperamental shifting of the wind and the rising swells that sometimes swoop down onto the lake.  They become nervous.  The small sloop isn’t even halfway across and soon this storm will overtake them.   Another rumble echoes off of the wooden mast and continues to roll out into the horizon, this time accompanied by a bright flash of lightening as the pressure of the air changes around them.  This is going to be a big storm, and they have nowhere safe to go, they are vulnerable.  The wind suddenly picks up and the idle chatter of conversation is carried out past them as the howl of this squall begins.   Jesus is still asleep. 

 

Simon Peter looks over at his brother Andrew and they exchange a momentary glance of concern.  The wind starts to increase the chop of the waves and soon enough the boat is hurtling forward on a rollercoaster that has everyone’s stomach in their throats.  First up a tall breaking wave and then down into the depths only to repeat again over and over.  The rain begins to pelt them with larges droplets and soon they are drenched from head to toe and the bottom of the boat looks more like a big bucket of water.  Still Jesus is asleep.  How much more can this little boat handle?  They begin to wonder this as another strong gust has them bracing for another crashing wave over the bow.  Concern gives way to fear, fear gives way to dread.  This could be their last night and that realization is evident on each of their faces.  Finally, after another crash of lightening that strikes too close to them and a roar of thunder that is felt in their chests they seek the only source of hope that they have left; Jesus.   He is still asleep, the day had been long and he was very weary from travel.  One of the disciples places firm hands on Jesus’ shoulders and shakes him awake.   “Help us Teacher, can’t you see that we are about to die!”  Jesus looks up into his disciples’ face and sees sheer panic and terror as the swell screams and tears through the boat and crashing waves. 

 

Jesus takes off the now soaking cloak from his body and makes his way to the prow of the boat.  He stands up boldly before the storm as all of the disciples are behind him huddled together quaking in fear.  He raises his hands as if he wants or dares the storm to strike him.  Then in a loud voice he yells out into the squall.  “STOP, BE STILL!”  The disciples witness something astounding.  It doesn’t happen incrementally, or taper away like a receding storm, but all at once everything becomes calm.  Everything!  The waves cease their rising and crashing.  The wind that threatened to blow them away simply went away.   The roll of thunder and crash of lightening suddenly disappears as if the storm has decided to go elsewhere.  All is calm. 

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The disciples look up at their teacher, amazed.  Jesus stands there before them says to them; “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”     Then something clicks within them, and they are terrified.  Who is Jesus?  Did that just happen?  So many questions run through their minds.  But the evidence is right before them; Jesus has just stopped a storm with His words.   The air that was once filled with pressure from the storm is now filled with rebuke of the disciples’ lack of faith.  “Do you still have no faith?”  These words will echo in them for some time.  It will remind them and spur them on for years.   Their Rabbi, God’s one and only son, has shown them what faith can do.  The disciples will never forget this moment.  It will be forever engrained in them, forever a living example of God’s power that is alive and active in the world.   Perhaps, just perhaps Christ’s words rings even truer when He said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. “ (John 14:12,13)

 

I’m not sure about you, but I can identify with the disciples!  I too have doubts.  I too struggle with a waning faith from time to time.  Sometimes the storms that invade my life seem to crash over me and threaten to capsize all that I am and possess.  Many times I respond to Jesus just like the disciples when crisis comes my way, “Help me Jesus, can’t you see that I am about to die!”  But the Son of God, the same Jesus who calmed that storm so long again with mere words still speaks to the storms in my life today!  He speaks to your storms as well!  How’s your faith?  In whom is your faith today?  Perhaps, if it’s not in Jesus, the storm calmer, life giver, Messiah; you could be sinking and afraid.  Cry out to Him, have faith in Him and He will be there to help you in your tempests and your storms.  “Peace, be still!” 

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