I love the story of Jesus in Mark 4. He had been teaching all day sharing spiritual insights through parables with crowds of people. When He was finished, He told the disciples to get in a boat and head to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. After they had been going a ways, a sudden storm blew in and threatened to sink the boat. In the midst of the chaos and fear, someone realized they needed Jesus and He wasn’t on deck. Verse 38 says, “But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion” (TPT). In the middle of the storm, Jesus was able to rest because He trusted God.
Most of us aren’t that way. When things are going downhill quickly and everything we hold dear is being threatened to sink, we struggle to rest. Sleep eludes us as our minds think of everything bad that can happen and what we will do if everything heads south. Yet, in this story, we find that Jesus is able to rest. I believe that the rest He was given is a rest that belongs to us. We have to learn that our perception of things is not His reality. Where we look up at the storm in fear, He speaks to it in faith. When we let fear dictate our emotions and steal our rest, we lack the faith to trust His providence for our lives.
Psalm 116:7 says, “Now I can say to myself and to all, ‘Relax and rest, be confident and serene, for the Lord rewards fully those who simply trust in him.’” If you’re uncomfortable speaking to your storms, then speak to yourself. Worry robs us of the strength and rest that God wants us to have. Just because you’re surrounded by turmoil, it doesn’t mean you have to live in it. God gives His children rest and peace, but many times, we have to take hold of it and tell ourselves to take it. Sudden storms that pop up are not a surprise to God. If you will simply trust in Him, He will guide you safely to shore.
Photo by Michael Dam on Unsplash
I’m getting close to my next Haiti trip. This trip has been an emotional roller-coaster for me. When I initially planned it, I had close to 40 people wanting to go. I had something at work come up on the week that we had agreed to and I couldn’t get out of. When I switched the week, it was like all the momentum was lost. Almost everyone couldn’t make it on the new week. I barely got ten people who could go. Soon after the deadline, people started contacting me letting me know they couldn’t make it after all.
I decided I would cancel the trip even though I felt strongly we were supposed to go. I began to allow my feelings to dictate my actions instead of what I knew God had said. My expectations for the trip were not being met by a long shot. I started with 40 and ended up with three from that original group. Of the ten who had signed up, five had dropped out. Money for the trip came in slowly. Out of frustration I went to God and complained. He didn’t beat me down, but He did remind me that this is about Him and not me.
I’m the type of person who likes to have a plan and to work that plan. When the plan goes out the window, I try to make a new plan. When all my plans fail, I begin to question myself and God. Did I hear Him? Is He paying attention? Why do I feel like I’m alone in this? Did I have the wrong expectations? I don’t think it’s wrong to ask God the hard questions or to be honest with Him when things don’t go as planned. He sees our hearts and knows our thoughts. Why not be honest with Him? I think He appreciates that more than us pretending that we’re ok with how things are.
Each of us have our own expectations in life, in relationships, in work, in family, in plans we make and of God. If you’ve lived more than a day, you have found out that those things rarely live up to our expectations. Plans fail. Life changes. We get dealt what we think are bad hands. Just because things don’t happen according to our plans, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t happening according to His plans. We see a small piece of the puzzle at a time and think we know where and how it fits in the whole, but God is looking at the picture on the box. He sees your life from beginning to the end and knows exactly where each piece fits and why they fit where they do. His reality is greater than our expectations.
His reality for my trip is a group of people only He could fit together. His reality is that the people He chose have the right skill sets to accomplish what He wants us to accomplish on this trip and not what I wanted to accomplish. I can fight Him and continue to be disappointed because my expectations aren’t being met or I can let go of my expectations, embrace His reality and know that what He wants to do on this trip is greater than anything I could have imagined. God always leaves that choice up to us. We can choose to be bitter and resentful or we can choose to let our plans and expectations go in order to embrace His. What’s your choice?
By the way, He sent five more people and has created a team that I could have never imagined or put together. I can’t wait to share with you what God has planned for this group!