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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Be Still

'Calm Afternoon Sail' photo (c) 2007, Patrick Crockett - license:"Peace," said Jesus. "Be still."

You know the story. Jesus was out on a lake in a storm with His disciples, and all Jesus had to do was say those three words, and the storm stopped. The disciples were quite impressed, obviously; wouldn't you have been?

Things have been... interesting in my life lately. We've found ourselves in an uncomfortably precarious financial situation, and I've had to bob and weave a bit to keep things running smoothly; at work I've had some complex, high-profile projects which have taken a lot of time and mental energy to manage. Yesterday I figured out a little trick which allowed me to maintain my focus, but today that all got upended by a single phone call, and I found myself feeling anxious and out of control. Pretty embarrassing for someone who, almost exactly six months ago, was blogging about stress! I guess fear can overtake us even when we think we know all about where it comes from and how to avoid it. Boy, what a mess.

It's been cold out, but I went outside without my jacket... I needed to take a walk. (Good thing it was a little warmer today than it's been lately!) I started to take a walk around the block, and I wound up taking a walk around several. It did help a little bit, and I was able to finish out the day with some good progress on my project, but I knew I was holding it together with chewing gum and kite string... not a permanent solution. I asked God for some help, for a little insight, but I really got nothing. I've learned that usually when God doesn't answer your question, it's either because you already know the answer, or you don't really want the answer in the first place. I knew I really wanted the answer, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out what it might be. Luckily, I had a pretty good idea where to get my balance back: Encounter Night.

Luckily, tonight was Encounter Night. We have it at my church on the first Wednesday evening of every month; it's a service where we spend just about the whole time worshiping God with music. There's no formal message, although we do usually take communion. I went in needing something, and sure enough, by the time I left, I had found what I needed to persevere through the next steps of my work project and my financial commitments. But it wasn't quite what I expected!

Several weeks ago I blogged about storms. Actually, though, that post is more about one particular type of storm: it's about the kind of storm that is bringing the answer to a problem, but which makes it look like things are getting worse before they are getting better. That kind of storm is uncomfortable, but it is actually from God; like digging the bullet out of a wound so it can heal properly, it seems like the pain is getting worse, but the suffering actually causes the situation to improve in the long run. The storm I was experiencing today was not that kind of storm. It was primarily an emotional storm, something raging more on the inside of me than the outside. This was a storm of fear, not a storm of circumstances. This was not a storm of God. This storm had to go. But how was I going to get rid of it?

Recently I was reading a book that mentioned that being a disciple of Jesus means trying your best to know Him so well that you think and act like Him, react to situations like He did. As I stood there worshiping tonight in Encounter Night, I realized what it is that Jesus did that I needed to do. I needed to speak to this storm. I needed to tell it to Be Still. I'm not Jesus and I can't stop either a rainstorm or an emotional storm, but I can speak out in faith, in imitation of Him, and I can trust God to be the one that calms the storm. The storm of circumstances might or might not let up immediately, but when I speak to the storm of fear inside of me, believing that God can calm that storm, I know He will. At the right time, the circumstances will resolve themselves too, but from now until then, I'm speaking to the nor'easter when it blows up inside of me, and I'm trusting that God will bring it to a peaceful calm.

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