What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Faced with a set of circumstances, personal dynamics and priorities you find yourself temporarily stalled as you cannot decide on a course of action.
Let me take you to a favourite story of mine. Peter, James and John and the rest of the crew were on a lake in a growing storm (you already know the feeling). Things had reached a difficult point and they didn’t knowwhat to do.
The traditional approach to their narrative would be to criticise them – albeit mildly – for not taking a spiritual view of their struggle,.but before we succumb to that tradition, it might be worth reflecting on what they actually did.
Firstly, they drew on their own expertise; not an unwise thing to do – they had learned over the years how to navigate this lake and this learning had come in their God-given lives, via their God-given brains, through their God-given hands and feet.
They also worked together seeking help from each other. This was also a sensible course of action. God had given them each other, and no one of them, as the saying goes, was as good as all of them.
Again they worked hard. Very understandable – the water wasn’t going to throw itself back in the lake – it would reconnect with the lake eventually but more likely via the sinking of the boat, so hard work was a sensible thing to do.
If you don’t know what to do, using your talents and experience, drawing on the help of others, and working hard on a solution are wise, godly and sensible things to do.
In this story that wasn’t enough. The problem was a bit more complex – probably more complex than they could see or feel when you consider the spiritual implications of a drowned Messiah.
So they yelled out in frustration for help. Again, they are to be commended because this was the right thing to do – asleep in the boat was someone who could help, would help and did help.
But as he helped he also gave them a slight telling off for not working with faith. They did not bring their faith out onto the lake.
So maybe we should still use our talents and expertise, but with faith. Maybe we should call on others – but with faith. Maybe we should work jolly hard but with faith.
Nice sentiments, but what does ‘working with faith’ mean? I suggest it means hundreds of things but one thing it might mean here, would be to ask for help early on in the storm, not just when you feel you are about to sink. The man Jesus was tired, but he still had enough energy to put the storm back in its place.
35That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
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