UNRUFFLED AND SIDELINED … A LESSON WHILE HEALING

Bellingrath Gardens long bridge and swan (C)
Long bridge with beautiful swan at Belingrath Gardens, Alabama.

 

There are times that nature moves quickly and with an intensity that man can only watch and admire. But, nature can also move slowly and with a deliberation that allows us peace and unruffled living. The swans at Bellingrath Gardens, in Alabama, provide a peaceful scene in which quiet contemplation is possible.

The swan must exert herself under the water so that she can majestically glide over the water, but she is able to do it with truly “unruffled” feathers.

Swan
The majestic swan — unruffled even while working!

How do we respond to things that upset our schedule or which create a problem for us to overcome? Do we have peace? Are we unruffled? While we might have to work at the response to the situation, do we worry and fret all the while?  What about while we are at work or have family troubles, do we stress and complain or do we have peace, even in chaotic circumstances? What about healing? Do we squirm because we are not as physically able as we want to be? Are we willing to submit to His loving care and see what He has for us, even if that includes physical pain?

The past two years have been an exercise in waiting for me.  I retired so that we could have time to do things like travel and visit family around the country.  Nine months later, I had a left ankle break that required surgery and over 9 weeks of non-weight bearing; then there were months of physical therapy as I healed from that event. I then had meniscus repair surgery to my left knee with resulting physical therapy, and I am just now beginning therapy after having surgery for a total right knee replacement. Each of these medical situations has found me, at times, accepting and, at other times, frustrated.

My schedule was stopped cold. Now all I had to do was to heal.  Wait, and yield to the caregiving provided to me … frustration and humiliation at not being able care for myself, even in fundamental ways, had to be let go so that I could appreciate the effort and care being rendered on my behalf.

As an example, I came home from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day and the next day my daughter Liz and my daughter-in-law Mandi prepared an incredible Thanksgiving Day meal for 12 people, served in our dining room, and all I had to do was to get up the steps and walk to the table. This was the first time that I had relinquished the holiday meal to others.  I praise these two wonderful women for their efforts which were absolutely successful, and I am thankful for the great celebration we had together. (The day of our Thanksgiving Day meal was our wedding anniversary, so it really was a celebration!)

Then too there is the wait for the doctors to practice their skill with still more waiting for the healing to come. Multiple doctor office visits and many more physical therapy sessions, with even more to be scheduled and endured. Wait, be calm and do the therapy so that healing will be complete.

There have been times when I wanted to scream “Doesn’t God know that we had plans?  Doesn’t God know that this is messing with what I thought He wanted me to do?  Doesn’t God care …?”

Of course, the answer is that “Yes, God does know. In fact, He knows everything!” That is the very definition of omniscience! What I need to know is that He is sovereign and He is in control of everything. That is the definition of omnipotence!  And, God does care — the cross is our confirmation of His love, mercy and grace for us.

                 What I need to remember is that I am not God.

This time of testing has a purpose, unknown to me, but important to God. Perhaps He has something that I am to learn about Him, about my life in Christ, about myself and the best way for me to do that is to experience this diversion that I would not have selected on my own.

In Mark 4:39 Jesus was with His disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a storm arose. His disciples were terrified and they woke him pleading that He help. Scripture says:

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

This became a teaching moment for the disciples! It should also be such for us, for me.

The Almighty God who spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1) and His Son, Jesus Christ, who could stop the storm instantly by commanding “Peace,” has promised to provide peace to us in our time of need through the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 26:3 instructs:

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”

Jesus promised that we would have divine help through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:25-26.

We are not guaranteed a life of ease as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, but we are guaranteed eternal life with Him and His presence through the Holy Spirit in the here and now. Such peace will transcend the frenetic pace of the world and calm our hearts if we read His Word and listen to the Holy Spirit’s instruction. If we turn our eyes upon Jesus, He will help us to learn the lessons that He has ordained, and He will encourage and support us even as we go through the difficulties attendant with those lessons.

Blessings to you. May you find Peace through your relationship with the King of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord and may His Spirit reside within you to comfort and strengthen during difficult times, even physical therapy!

Father, thank you for loving me so much that you are working in my life to transform me into the image of Jesus. Forgive me when I rebel and don’t want to go down the road you have ordained. Help me to remember that I am yours and that you are sovereign and in control of all things. Thank you Heavenly Father for your Son, my Savior and Lord, and thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to instruct, guide and comfort as we go along our way, even if it is to physical therapy.

 

 

 

PEACE IN THE STORM!

We have just experienced an incredible rain deluge in the Carolinas along the Southeastern coast of the United States. According to the National Weather Service, one area of downtown Columbia, South Carolina, received nearly 17 inches of rain in 17 hours, and it was still raining. This rain was not the result of a hurricane or tornado, but the rain came from storm systems that collided and hovered over the area, dumping multiple inches of rain per hour.

Storms are not uncommon – we know that, and we depend on the rain to provide fresh water for the animals, including us, to drink and to provide water to irrigate the vegetation on our world, thereby providing food for us. Indeed, without water, we would be in real trouble, to say the least.

Storm clouds over Lookout Rock, Colorado
Storm clouds over Lookout Rock, Colorado

Even though storms are an everyday experience, even heading directly into a storm is frightening!  The power that the storm unleashes is awesome and can be unnerving. The howling wind and driving rain, along with lightning and thunder, create anxiety if not outright fear in our hearts. Severe storms occur over land and over the seas, their power is fearsome and their scope is immense.

Driving into the rainstorm in Mississippi
Driving into the rainstorm in Mississippi

Scripture tells us that God created the heavens and the earth, including the ocean or sea.

“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.   God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:9-10 [ESV].

Ocean storm in the distance
Ocean storm in the distance

In Psalms 24:1-2, David says: “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.[NLT]

Jesus illustrates His power throughout the Gospels of Scripture, but one of the stories that I often think of is recorded in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4. Jesus and his disciples were crossing to the other side of the sea.

Sailboat in the ocean
Sailboat in the ocean

A violent storm overtook them; in fact, it was so severe that Mark says that the waves beat into the boat so that it was full! Although I am not a marine expert, even I can understand that the situation Mark described was dire!  Imagine being in that boat, with the wind howling, the waves churning and the boat filling up with water. The expert fishermen‐now‐turned‐disciples were afraid for their very lives. This was no ordinary storm – it was fierce, they were afraid.

Ocean waves
Ocean waves

Jesus, on the other hand, was sleeping – no fear here!   When the disciples woke Him in their wide‐eyed fear, Jesus stood up and ordered the sea to be still.

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39. [KJV]

While I would have screamed at the sea, Jesus simply spoke and nature had its marching orders. Jesus essentially said “that’s enough.” He didn’t flail around waving His arms and stomping his feet. He was, at all times, in control. He simply spoke the words and directed the sea to “be still”.

It is encouraging to me to note that the sea’s response was not delayed until the storm naturally dissipated or moved away from the water. Further, the directive was not ignored. Jesus was in control: He spoke and the sea obeyed, immediately.

Rainbow in the sky after the storm on the ocean
Rainbow in the sky after the storm on the ocean

Notwithstanding the miracles Jesus had consistently been demonstrating, Scripture says that the disciples asked each other “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” Mark 4:41. [NIV] Of course, the answer to their question is that Jesus is the Creator, the One in whom we have our being, He is the Word made flesh, and He is our Savior.

When I look at the deluge of rain the Carolinas experienced this week, I am reminded that my Savior is Lord over all. He is sovereign, even over storms. I don’t know why this one attacked so fiercely, but I do believe that God is with those affected by the storm, and He will enable, sustain and encourage them if they turn to Him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Landscape Rainbow, Alaska
Landscape Rainbow beneath the storm clouds in Alaska

The storms and seas of this world, with their incredible expanse and surpassing power, obey Jesus’ voice. And He, through His Holy Spirit, is with me in every circumstance — His voice that calmed the sea will calm my own heart and fears. Whatever flood overwhelms me, whether it be water, problems, illness, finances or circumstance, my Lord is in control.

Trust Him ‐‐ even when you feel that your boat is sinking! His voice is still powerful! He can still say “Peace, be still.”

Father, I praise Your Name that You sent Jesus to be my Savior. Jesus, I praise Your Name that You obeyed and became the sacrifice for my sin. Holy Spirit, thank You for being with me every step of the way, and for holding me close, even in the fiercest storm.