“[It is] our inclination to replace Jesus’ call to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him. We replace his call with a self-serving path in which we deny our neighbors, take up our comforts and follow our dreams.” –Scott Sauls
Navigating stormy seas, especially those storms when expectations are not met in ways we hoped–those are the times we wrestle with our faith.
Is that a bad thing?
I don’t believe so. It is a human thing. Our frail humanity wrestling with darkness, despair, and disappointment. These are times when our faith in a God who loves us collides with realities that we don’t understand.
Is God surprised by our recoiling from Him in shock and anger?
In all our storms; in navigating all the heaving waves; He comes walking on the water of our storm.
When our expectations are lying in shattered pieces and the debris of our dreams seems to be floating away in the aftermath. Right there. That is where He meets us. That is where we learn what it is to truly “hope in God.” Not in those calm seas of smooth sailing. We learn who He truly is, and who we truly are, and what we truly believe in—THERE.
Dorothy Sayers wrote…
“Perhaps we are not following Christ all the way or in the right spirit… for example, to be a little sparing of the psalms and hosannas… of wielding the scourge of small cords, lest we should offend somebody or interfere with trade.
We do not furnish up our wits to disentangle knotty questions about Sunday observance and tribute money, nor hasten to sit at the feet of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions.
We pass hastily over disquieting jests about making friends with the mammon of unrighteousness and alarming observations about bringing not peace but a sword; nor do we distinguish ourselves by the graciousness by which we sit at meat with publicans and sinners.
Somehow or other, and with the best intentions, we have shown the world the typical Christian in the likeness of a crashing and rather ill-natured bore—and this in the name of the one who assuredly never bored a soul in those thirty-three years during which he passed through the world like a flame.
Let us, in heaven’s name, drag out the divine drama from under the dreadful accumulation of slipshod thinking and trashy sentiment heaped upon it, and set it on an open stage to startle the world into some sort of vigorous reaction. If the pious are the first to be shocked, so much worse for the pious–others will pass into the kingdom of heaven before them.
If all men are offended because of Christ, let them be offended; but where is the sense of their being offended at something that is not Christ and is nothing like him?
We do him singularly little honor by watering down his personality till it could not offend a fly. Surely it is not the business of the Church to adapt Christ to men, but to adapt men to Christ.”
― Dorothy L. Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church
Skillful Gospel Mariners
My father used to quote an old proverb that said, “Calm seas did never a skillful mariner make.” These words seem cold and harsh when our own hopes are crushed and all seems lost.
Yet I have learned navigating many storms, that it is in learning to navigate the storm, I grow. My understanding expands, my relationship with God deepens, as I plant my feet on The Rock.
Then my faith through endurance bears new fruit!
Storms teach me I must surrender my expectations to embrace His. It is not easy. It can take a long time depending on how tightly I held my hopes, but He is patient with me. He remembers that I am only dust.
In my fragile “dust” He plants His truth, and I learn again—how dearly He loves me.
Letting go of the myth of certainty…
Uncertainty has always been this world’s reality.
It is the delusion of certainty that is dangerous myth.
Only in His Truth do I find a Rock where I may plant my feet on the certainties of heaven. The disappointments of this world force me to face reality, and to realize anew–He embraces me in all my storms–if I will let Him. If I will surrender my broken heart to Him.
Then, He tenderly touches all my wounds, transforming them!
Into my pain flows perseverance. Into my heart flows peace. And into my wobbling faith flows new strength through my storm-tested endurance.
I let go of my expectations, waiting for Him in all the chaos, to lead me through to His ultimate good purpose.
And there, a realization dawns—my storms are not only for me–but for helping and encouraging other storm driven men.
We are in deep trouble for bringing you God’s comfort and salvation. But in our trouble God has comforted us—and this, too, to help you: to show you from our personal experience how God will tenderly comfort you when you undergo these same sufferings. He will give you the strength to endure.
2 Corinthians 1:6-7 TLB
(This post is an expanded rewrite of a post done in 2017.)