Is it okay to rest when everyone else is striving?
These last few months have been a rollercoaster of storm-calm-storm-calm etc. For some reason, I find the 'storms' emotionally easier to respond to than the calms. The calms are what often send me over the edge, but what often feel like an inappropriate time to suddenly be overwhelmed with anxiety and panic! Over the next few weeks I plan to share some thoughts with you on engaging with rest in the midst of 'normal', 'calm' but busy life, but today I wanted to share a post I wrote back in March on leading others in the midst of crisis:
There is a huge storm raging. The boat is filling up with water and the waves are getting hurricane huge. Deathly huge. A storm like this has not been seen before. Everyone is doing their best to bail out the water and everyone is joining in the communal panic.
Everyone that is except Jesus. He is sleeping on his cushion, unperturbed by the splashes of seawater and the angry exchanges taking place between the other sailors. They ignore him at first, but their fears grow so large and Jesus’ sleep so offensive that they shake him awake and demand an explanation. How dare he sleep whilst the boat is going down? Doesn’t he realize they are all dying, including Him and soon the boat will sink? They desire to draw him into their panic, inspire him to start bailing or just do something!
Jesus doesn’t grumble about being woken from his slumber. He doesn’t react impulsively to their criticisms and provocative accusations. He doesn’t get drawn into their panic. Instead, he recognizes the real distraction and tells it to be quiet. To be muzzled. To submit to His authority. To cease completely.
And the wind and waves obey.
The disciples hearts shift. Their fear of the wind and waves suddenly get submitted to a fear of the real Mighty One. The One who really decides their earthly departure date.
And Jesus asks them why they hadn’t spotted who was in control before? Did it really take a demonstration from the Almighty for them to believe he was Almighty?
I have always looked at this passage before from the point of view of a disciple (and how I so often forget His Mighty Power too!) but as we read the passage together this morning in prayers I saw it for the first time through the eyes of a leader.
How often do others around me get panicked and fearful in the face of the latest crisis and I can either presume I should join them and be understanding or allow their fears to run the show?
How often can a prayer meeting run off into a seeming desperation ‘if we don’t do something in prayer right now, God won’t act?!’ striving session?
How often do we find people or ourselves being driven by our fearful emotions to act in a certain way and try and bail out the water from the boat before we all drown?
But Jesus doesn’t allow himself to be dragged into their panic. He doesn’t encourage them to call out desperately in prayer. He doesn’t start barking out storm management strategies.
He recognises that the wind and waves HAVE to obey the voice of their Creator. He doesn’t waver in trust but remains calm and collected. Unperturbed.
And it is offensive to the disciples.
It is offensive to others when we seemingly do nothing in the midst of a crisis. When we don’t panic and instead keep our heads in prayer and trust that God knows and God will do it. Rest is offensive to others who see a need for work, even if it is futile, energy-draining bailing out of water on a sinking ship.
But we, His disciples, are called to see things from His perspective. To trust and believe. To be still and not panic and rest and listen to Him in spite of how others desire us to react.
As I reflect on our leadership and lives as we move into a new Ministry school year after an emotionally exhausting few months, I recognize that we need to find that peace in the midst of the storms or we will burn out quick. One of the things I recognize is that one of my weaknesses and temptations is to say yes to everyone and respond to every crisis that comes up that is not my own. I am first at grabbing the bucket to start bailing out the water. My husband Mark’s response is to push back every crisis and refuse to give it any space at all, dismissing them as distractions. He’s happy to be asleep on the cushion in the corner, trusting God will sort it out. Neither reponses are healthy (although perhaps my husband is closer to Jesus’ response!). Jesus slept in the storm, but he also responded to it and took authority over it at the necessary time. He responded in rest AND took authority over the storm demonstrating faith in action.
I too desire how to learn this year how to rest and trust in the storms but also to hear His voice, acknowledge the authority He has given me over the enemy’s distractions, and to respond in obedience, putting aside both my own fears and the fears and panic of others.
How about you?
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