Monday, September 2, 2013

Stormy Relationships...

Teacher, don't you care that we are going to drown...The disciples were absolutely terrified. "Who is this man?" they asked each other. "Even the wind and waves obey him!" ~ Read Mark 4:35-41

Prayer requires some discipline. Yet I believe that life with God should seem more like a friendship than duty. Prayer includes moments of ecstasy and also dullness, mindless distraction and acute concentration, flashes of joy and bouts of irritation. In other words, prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter... If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn't act the way we want God to, and why I don't act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge. ~ Philip Yancey

One evening, Jesus told his disciples to climb into a boat and head for the opposite shore. Thirteen men, trailed by a string of paparazzi filled vessels, let gentle breezes power them to their destination. Suddenly, a fierce storm blew in, and the once quiet water churned like a boiling cauldron. Surging winds morphed the waves into battering rams of water, breached the side, and flooded the ship. First, it covered their sandals, then their ankles, and then nets and hand-lines were swirling around their waists. Too much, too quickly--bailing was useless. Sinking. To say the least, the boys were in over their heads, or would be shortly. To the Son of God, they cried out the frantic question generations of Christ-followers have repeated, "Don't you care?"

If you read the entire story, you know that in the midst of all their chaos, Jesus was asleep in the stern of the ship. We moderns may interpret this as our need to arouse a careless God from his nap, inform him of our predicament, and prod him to action by our ardent prayers.

That is not the lesson here. God is aware. He does care.

Maybe it would be best to turn that question around and ask, Do we really care--about the relationship? Is it us who are spiritually asleep and careless? Could we benefit more by looking at our tempests as a chance for a dialogue of prayer that builds trust, faith, and intimacy with God?

Think of these questions for a moment...

We ask Jesus, "Do you care?"

And Jesus asks us, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

Yancey says it well, "Prayer stands as the place where God and humans meet." Two-way conversation converges for a perfect, or should we say, perfecting storm. Our faith deepens. We learn to trust--if not fully understand--that God doesn't act the way we want him to. When in discourse with God, his questions for us lead to discovery: what supplanted our faith, and why didn't we respond the way God wanted us to?

Our relationship with God gets stormy, and that is good, when out of the wild emerges a conversation of prayer that brings calm and peace to our soul. Fair weather sailing could never bring those disciples, nor us, to know "this man--that even the winds and waves obey--does care."

The prayer preceding all prayers is "May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou that I speak to." ~ C. S. Lewis

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