After I adopted my sons, I was supposed to be done with adoption ministry. When God dropped more children on my doorstep, I was supposed to be their mom forever. When my friend got sick, she was supposed to get better. God was supposed to remove the cancer, the divorce, the offense. We were supposed to go back to school after Spring Break to finish my daughter’s senior year.
It just wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Long before the arrival of COVID, God was attempting to teach me to anchor to Him in the storm. Apparently, I am a slow learner. In the last few months, as our community prepared to return to school, I pondered the story in Mark 4, Jesus Calms the Storm.
My favorite version of this story is from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. If you don’t own a copy, you should. The Jesus Storybook Bible is beautifully written with striking illustrations.
Here is a snapshot of Sally’s version of Mark 4:
Jesus had been helping people all day, and now he was tired. So they left the crowds at the shore and set out in a small fishing boat.
Jesus climbed into the boat to take a nap. As soon as his head touched the pillow, he fell fast asleep.
They were only about halfway across when out of nowhere, whirling winds swept across the lake, fierce and strong, like a hurricane! The fishing boat was blown and buffeted and tossed and turned–back and forth and up and down and left and right and round and round!
And in the middle of the storm, Jesus was sleeping.
Now Jesus’ friends had been fishermen all their lives, but in all their years fishing on this lake, they had never once seen a storm like this one. No matter how hard they struggled with their ropes and sails, they couldn’t control their boat. This storm was too big for them.
But the storm wasn’t too big for Jesus.
“HELP!” they screamed. “Wake up! Quick, Jesus!”
Jesus opened his eyes.
“Rescue us! Save us!” they shrieked. “Don’t you care?”
(Of course, Jesus cared, and this was the very reason he had come–to rescue them and to save them.)
Jesus stood up and spoke to the storm.
“Hush!” he said. That’s all.
And the strangest thing happened…
The wind and the waves recognized Jesus’ voice. (They had heard it before, of course–it was the same voice that made them, in the very beginning). They listened to Jesus, and they did what he said.
Immediately the wind stopped. The water calmed down. There was a deep stillness and a great quiet all around.
Then Jesus turned to his wind-torn friends. “Why were you scared?” he asked. “Did you forget who I am? Did you believe your fears, instead of me?”
As the 2020 school year, and life, bring unexpected changes, there are many reasons to get excited, but there are also two important things to remember:
“Hush!” he said. That’s all.
Jesus said, be quiet, and the storm listened. Have you ever been in the middle of a sermon to your spouse or child and knew deep down you should stop talking and walk away? This might have happened to me recently. I was deep into delivering a “You Should Have” sermon to my son when I felt the Lord tell me to "hush." I didn’t. The next morning, I woke up to the Lord prompting me to ask for forgiveness for overreacting. Sometimes, the best choice is to be quiet. Like many of my relationships, my prayer life can also be full of talking instead of listening. While it is essential to pour out my heart before the Lord, it is also vital to listen to what He has to say. I need His voice to speak correction, truth, encouragement, and love over me.
If I am always talking, I can’t hear Him.
“Did you forget who I am? Did you believe your fears, instead of me?”
While we were on vacation in Colorado last summer, we received notification my husband’s company was closing its doors immediately. No more job. No severance. No notice. No more paycheck. Thankfully, my husband had already been searching for another position. Door after door was closed. He was passed over for jobs he was perfectly qualified to do. We kept praying for God to open the door for the job He wanted us to accept. The only job offered required our family to relocate. We accepted the only position we were offered and began preparing to move. My friend texted me, "wouldn’t it be great if the new job offered him a job that didn’t require relocation?" My response, "not going to happen." A few days later, the new company called to offer my husband a remote job which would not require a move. I didn’t believe that was even a possibility, but the God who created the winds and the waves can certainly change circumstances.
God can move in the most unlikely of situations. The goal for us in the middle of the storms is to remember who God is and align ourselves with Him, instead of this world.
When things are not going how we thought for this school year, be still and remember who God is. When disappointment, fatigue, and grief come, don’t forget God is in control. In 2020, parents and educators will face situations that may not go the way we planned. Cling to the truth that God knows what He is doing.