What is the Name of Your Storm?

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 
Mark 4:37-38 ESV

It is interesting that in generations past no one thought much about what to call a particular storm.  But in 1953, the National Hurricane Center figured out that naming a storm got people’s attention. Since the point of their forecasting was to help folks prepare, they decided that naming was a pretty important thing! The same is true for our spiritual storms. One thing I have learned as I have gotten older is that we rarely face the same storm twice. Circumstances I faced as a twenty-five-year-old with toddlers running around our apartment were certainly different from waiting up late nights waiting for them to come home when they were teenagers. Today our children have children of their own who are teenagers and we lay awake some nights praying for them. Someone once said, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” But the real truth of the matter is that our storms really do change both in kind as well as ferocity and the only thing that remains the same is Jesus. Even though it may seem that He is asleep while we are going through life threatening circumstances, the truth is that He knows what we are going through and He is ready to come and help when we cry out to Him. No matter what our storm is named today, we are never forgotten, or abandoned. Jesus gave His life on the cross as the sky darkened and the earth shook beneath His feet. But as the blood flowed down the timbers, from the nails that pierced His hands and feet, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” The cross has finished everything we need to deliver us from our storm, to still our seas and to calm the trouble around us. No matter what our storm’s name we can know that He loves us, He cares about our problems He is showing us new ways to trust Him, no matter what name of the hurricane that lies ahead!

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Listening – Day 3

"They also serve who only stand and wait"
John Milton

Listening, is intimately linked to waiting, but waiting is not exactly my favorite activity. Today’s quote about waiting comes from one of my favorite poems. I don’t know about you, but I love to read about waiting far more than to I like to experience it. Milton wrote this poem, Sonnet 19 (On His Blindness) because as his vision failed, so also did his hopes, ambitions and opportunities in life (or so he thought.) Though the poem does have a nice ring to it, what in the world does it mean? What kind of service would it be if our waiter at the restaurant, just waited. I want my food, my refill and my check in a reasonable amount of time. I am not all in on the guy or gal who is simply hanging out, leaning against the wall or hiding in the breakroom! But then I recalled a man in the Bible whose entire life’s ministry was to wait. His name was Simeon.

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Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Luke 2:25-26 ESV

Imagine an entire lifetime of waiting. Simeon grows up and watches other young men starting their careers, launching out into successful businesses or leading large congregations. His friends may stop by for tea and as they sit and visit, they ask him, “So, Simeon, what are your plans for this year? When are you going to get started on something new?”

But Simeon’s answer was always the same. “I am waiting for God’s Messiah and His consolation for us as His people.”

“But can’t you do something else in the meantime? Isn’t there anything you want to do or places you would like to visit?” But Simeon simply nodded his head and quietly trusted God while he said his prayers at the temple – week after week, month after month and year after year. Decades passed and yet Simeon’s hope did not grow dim and God told him to hang in there, because one day it would come to pass as sure the sun comes up in the morning. Simeon’s life reminds me of the proverb, –Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when the desire cometh it is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12

Are you waiting like Simeon? Are there dreams and hopes that God has planted in your heart that seem as far away as the other side of the moon? God has not forgotten you. If He has planted His promise in your heart, He knows what He is doing, and He will be faithful to make it grow in His own time. Just as God did for Simeon, the day will come when Jesus places in your arms all that He has promised you and then, just like Simeon, you will have a song and a joy that no one else could give you! And by the way, John Milton wrote his most famous work, “Paradise Lost” after he became completely blind by dictating it to others. John Milton, like Simeon, was standing and waiting, but He wasn’t just standing around!

Are We Listening?

In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Matthew 26:12 ESV

Many years ago, as we sat through an average Sunday service, our pastor began to preach about the cross. First, he described the terrible beating that Jesus received and how the crown of thorns was pressed down on his head. “Next they took the nails” our pastor went on, “And they drove them through His hands….” he was suddenly interrupted by a tiny voice that pierced the silence of our congregation. “EEEW!” a little girl in the back cried out. The rest of us heard the message that morning, but I believe that in God’s eyes, she was the only person actually listening!

In our scripture passage today, it seems that just like that little girl; only Mary seemed to be listening. Jesus had told them many times that He was going to Jerusalem to die. But only Mary, understood that Jesus would not be with them much longer. Only Mary, who chose to sit at Jesus’ feet listening, did something to give Him her blessing while she still had time. Other people were celebrating and relaxing at the supper, but Mary poured out her alabaster box of perfumed oil on the Master’s feet. Everybody listens to someone. Who are you listening to today? If we want to fill the room with the fragrance of the presence of Christ, it all depends on listening at His feet and then acting on the words we hear!

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