Waking up in an icy cold room, I slip on a robe and walk to the kitchen where I’ll prepare the morning’s breakfast. Once again, I find myself missing the comforts of home. I miss the feeling of soft carpet under my feet when I climb out of bed. I miss the pantry full of breakfast choices. I miss the hustle and bustle of my family rushing to get ready for the day. But most of all, I miss the people I can count on–the ones whose love I know will remain despite any storm. And I cannot wait until I return.
It’s How We’re Wired
While you may not be reflecting on the comforts of home from a dorm room, I’m willing to bet there’s a sense of yearning in you. Because our hearts were wired to yearn for and to lean towards God, it’s ingrained in our very nature. The problem? That’s not always where we reach. These instincts are often projected onto aspects of life that we try to separate from God. Leaning, wishing, hoping, expecting, yearning–these are postures we pass through in the rhythms of life. Are you constantly awaiting the next moment or hoping for the future? If you’re anything like me, I willing to bet you might be.
Productivity or Preservation?
We spend a lot of time planning. I’m not talking about big plans like jobs, marriage, kids, and houses. I mean the simple planning. The planning that consumes our day with tight schedules. The planning that leads us to look ahead to the events of the upcoming week and worry about them in the present. I find myself constantly swayed by a balancing act of worry and calm. We’ve been trained by a society that’s oriented towards productivity. Taught to never waste time, to “seize the day,” to make “every moment count,” it’s like we’re gripping onto something that we fear is going to be taken away from us.
“If I don’t study long enough, that grade is going to be lost. I’m going to lose my career and all of my future plans will fail.”
“If I don’t work more, I won’t be paid enough. I won’t earn that promotion. I won’t be able to live the comfortable life that I desire.”
“If I don’t do XYZ in my relationship, he/she won’t like me enough and I might feel alone.”
Any of these sound familiar? We’re all in different stages, all trying to walk through different storms. And you know what? It. is. exhausting. Afraid we might lack something, we suffocate in our desire to preserve it. While we were made to yearn for God who can satisfy, we’ve begun to lean towards and desperately hold on to the things that cannot.
Where You Stay, I’ll Stay
What’s more is we are constantly told to move, and we’re reminded to do it fast. Lines like “God’s got big plans for you. You’re going to be a kingdom-changer if you choose to follow Him” are fed to Christians on a regular basis. And don’t get me wrong, there is much truth to those statements. We are called to follow in the footsteps of our Savior. But often, I think we can misunderstand what that following looks like. Because following doesn’t always mean moving. It doesn’t always involve looking to where the next footprint is going to be made. In some seasons of life “following” might really mean “remaining.” And it can be just as hard.
Withstanding the Storm
In Mark 14 : 22-33 Jesus leaves His disciples on a boat and climbs a mountain where He begins to pray in solitude. While Jesus sat calmly praying in the presence of the Father, no doubt there was increasing worry, fear, and turmoil in the sea below. The passage tells us the boat is being “tossed by the waves” and the wind was “boisterous.” In the middle of the sea, surrounded on all sides by raging waves and enveloped in darkness, there is no question these men were experiencing great fear. In fact, because of their fear and lack of faith these men believed Jesus to be a ghost when they saw Him walking on water towards their vessel. The disciples would have been desperately praying for God to calm the sea, for safety, and for the return of their teacher.
When we hear this story we tend to focus on the miracle that occurs when Jesus walks on the water. But if we look closer, we find there’s a sharp contrast between the despair and chaos these men experience on the sea, and the peaceful attitude of Jesus who sits calmly on a mountain top amidst the storm. Standing on the mountain top with the wind raging against Him, Jesus–unlike the disciples that night–had no doubt that the windstorm could be calmed.
I think our lives often look like that night. Only we tend to reflect the disciples’ reactions more often than our Savior’s. When a storm hits our life, we pray for it to cease. We are afraid and doubtful, and sometimes our faith falters. Instead of remaining peacefully in the storm, we yearn for the calm. We hope for the next moment, for the future when “all will be well.” But I think, sometimes, we are called to just remain. Let the wind and the waves rage against us. But rather than fearfully struggling to reach safety, we might practice a little of what Jesus did: Stand firmly in our faith and know that amidst the storm, or the moment we do not wish to be in, our Father is there listening to our prayers sustaining us.
It is in this posture, I believe, that we can find rest. When we remain in God, we accept the position He’s placed us in. Instead of yearning for the present to be over–instead of awaiting a ‘better’ future that we have planned for ourselves, we wait and we listen. Perhaps the storm is happening for a reason. If we yearn for God rather than for the calming of the storm, Jesus will walk through the raging sea with us. And when, in His own timing, He climbs “into [our] boat, the wind will cease.” (Matthew 14:32). So friends, I encourage you this week to examine where you’re at in life right now. Is there something you’re yearning for? Examine what it would mean for you to remain in Christ and in the role He has placed you in, rather than reaching for the next moment ahead.