A Walk on the Waves

“The secret of tranquility is the presence of Christ. When He is in the boat the waves calm themselves…if you and I are conscious of restlessness, interruptions of our tranquility by surging, impatient passions and hot desires within ourselves, or by the pressure of outward circumstances, or by having fallen beneath our consciences and done wrong things—let us understand that the breaches of our peace are not owing to Him, but only to our having let go His hand.” —Ian Maclaren

The devil makes every effort to keep our hearts turbulent—to keep us unsettled and afraid—grabbing for anything but Jesus to calm the storm—to make us fear walking on the storm with Him. But when Jesus arises He’ll rebuke the winds and waves, and there will be a great calm. “It is I—be not afraid.” Take His hand, hold tight and go for a walk.

Shalom.

—j

Prayer on a President’s Desk

“O, God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” —An Old Breton Fishermen’s prayer, from a plaque on President John F. Kennedy’s desk

God can seem dark and vast, stormy, dangerous and overwhelming—like the churning sea. But like the sea, He’s also encompassing—unpredictable at times—but His love and grace fill the deep, endless expanse of all He is. The sea is always bigger than the storm. Even on the waves He comes to us walking, reminding us, “Fear not—it is I,” and calms the storm.

We are surrounded and we are safe.

Awesome.

—j

Forgiving the Unforgivable

“When God alone is with us in the strange, trackless forests of what we really are, there is potential for us to do or say all sorts of unpleasant things. Take heart. Whatever those things might be, he will forgive us, as long as we extend the same courtesy to others.” —Adrian Plass

Forgiving others isn’t a tough as we make it—yes, as we make it. Jesus taught us how—minus a step that we added. To forgive someone isn’t to finally feel good about them, which is a terrible burden of often hopeless, if not disingenuous effort. If we’re waiting to feel good about our offenders, we’ll be waiting a really long time—God never told us to feel good about them. Whenever Jesus taught us to forgive others, He always used the same metaphor. Debt—like keeping a ledger. Jesus’ death in our place erased the ledger of every unplayable penalty we’ll ever owe God—and He did it when we weren’t even likeable—when we were His enemies—objects of His wrath and ungodly. Through Jesus He erased the ledger of our unpayable debt. When the Books are finally opened, they’ll be blank.

And that’s how we forgive our enemies—even the unforgivable. God doesn’t require us to like them, but to discharge their debt against us—yes, they did bad things, but they owe me nothing—not even an apology, forevermore. Like Jesus did to us.

Jesus said: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…” Now ya know.

Be free.

—j

The Mosquito in Your Room

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle [you know nothing about].” —Ian McLaren

We impact every person we meet—there’s no stopping it. When we’re indifferent, people feel it—and often learn it—from us. The same thing is true when we’re kind, compassion and loving—people feel it and learn it—from us. That’s how the world is changed—it’s how Jesus did it and it’s why His impact has traveled so far for so long so powerfully. Walking as He walked Him, even the smallest person has mighty impact. It’s just that big.

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room…” —Bette Reese

Give ’em Heaven.

—j

When You’ve Wrecked Your Day…

(An Elementary School teacher’s poem…)

He came to my desk with a quivering lip, the lesson was done;
“Have you a new sheet for me, dear teacher, I’ve spoiled this one?”
I took his sheet, all soiled and blotted,
Gave him a new one, all unspotted;
And into his tired heart I cried, “Do better now, my child.”

I went to the Throne with a trembling heart, the day was done;
“Have you a new day for me, dear Master, I’ve spoiled this one?”
He took my day, all soiled and blotted,
Gave me a new one, all unspotted;
And into my tired heart He cried, “Do better now, my child.”
(Author Unknown)

Don’t you just love God’s grace…?

—j

My Favorite Poem. Ever.

My favorite poem (to be read in the meter of my favorite poet—Dr. Seuss)…

When I Became A Christian
by Adrian Plass

When I became a Christian I said, Lord, now fill me in,
Tell me what I’ll suffer in this world of shame and sin.
He said, your body may be killed, and left to rot and stink,
Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen—I think.
I think Amen, Amen I think, I think I say Amen,
I’m not completely sure, can you just run through that again?
You say my body may be killed and left to rot and stink,
Well, yes, that sounds terrific, Lord, I say Amen—I think.

But, Lord, there must be other ways to follow you, I said,
I really would prefer to end up dying in my bed.
Well, yes, he said, you could put up with the sneers and scorn and spit,
Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen—a bit.
A bit Amen, Amen a bit, a bit I say Amen,
I’m not entirely sure, can we just run through that again?
You say I could put up with sneers and also scorn and spit,
Well, yes, I’ve made my mind up, and I say, Amen—a bit.

Well I sat back and thought a while, then tried a different ploy,
Now, Lord, I said, the Good book says that Christians live in joy.
That’s true he said, you need the joy to bear the pain and sorrow,
So do you want to follow me, I said, Amen—tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Lord, I’ll say it then, that’s when I’ll say Amen,
I need to get it clear, can I just run through that again?
You say that I will need the joy, to bear the pain and sorrow,
Well, yes, I think I’ve got it straight, I’ll say Amen—tomorrow.

He said, Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me
A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sanctity,
The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit,
Now tell me, will you follow me? I said Amen—I quit.
I’m very sorry Lord I said, I’d like to follow you,
But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do.
He said forget religion then, and think about my Son,
And tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done.
Are you man enough to see the need, and man enough to go,
Man enough to care for those whom no one wants to know,
Man enough to say the thing that people hate to hear,
To battle through Gethsemane in loneliness and fear.
And listen! Are you man enough to stand it at the end,
The moment of betrayal by the kisses of a friend,
Are you man enough to hold your tongue, and man enough to cry?
When nails break your body-are you man enough to die?
Man enough to take the pain, and wear it like a crown,
Man enough to love the world and turn it upside down,
Are you man enough to follow me, I ask you once again?
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said Amen.
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen; Amen, Amen, Amen,
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said, Amen.

Amen.
—j

Holding Hands in the Dark

Sometimes God is hard to see. “Where is God in my darkness?” people cry, and understandably so. Yet even the night cannot contain Him…

“As the rain hides the stars, as the autumn mist hides the hills, happenings of my lot hide the shining of Thy face from me. Yet, if I may hold Thy hand in the darkness, it is enough; since I know that, though I may stumble in my going, Thou dost not fall.” —Alistair Maclean

He was there all along.

Blessings,
—j