A few months ago, Sam and I were anchored out, on a moonless Florida night, atop water that was as still and black as volcanic glass. Nothing moved. Not wind, not water, nothing. There was only perfect shiny stillness all around us.
It’s an unusual condition, so I remarked about it.
I told Sam about the time Jesus was napping in a boat during a hurricane. Fearing for their lives, his friends woke him up and accused him of not caring. Jesus got up and spoke to the storm.
“Peace, be still,” he said, and the wind died and there was great calm.
That phrase “great calm” is deceiving though. In the Greek it actually reads “dead calm,” like the water under us that night in Florida. Mariners know it takes a while for water to go dead calm after a storm, at least a day or two, if it ever happens at all.
Rightly, Jesus’ friends were terrified and said, “who is this that even the wind and waves obey him?”
As we slide into the holidays, a season that is tricky for many, including me, there are plenty of things to be anxious and unwell about. But lately I feel like the wellness I seek is a moment by moment choice. Here are three questions I’m finding helpful:
Can I let the holidays be what they are and not compare them to what “is” on television?
None of those families are real. The argumentative, dysfunctional one around the table, that’s my real one. Can I accept it?
Can I control my thoughts before I’m fully awake?
While still groggy, try answering any of these questions: What three things am I most grateful for? What are three things going well in my job? What am I excited about today? Maybe that sounds trite or naive, but it sure beats starting my day thinking about my new president. I’m not entertaining fear and anxiety first thing anymore, my thoughts are already elsewhere.
Can I be more deliberate with my time?
Spending the first and best of the morning with Jesus, usually means before sunrise. It’s then he asks me, like he did his friends in the boat, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
I’ve got some big changes coming up; ones that will surely at times feel like a hurricane or, worse yet for me, a vast snowy desert, but they are neither. They are just new lands along on the path I chose when I decided to follow Jesus like I mean it.
Truth is, Jesus told the disciples, before they got in the boat, they were going to the other side. So they were going to make it. Dead calm was a bonus.
Jesus was gracious enough to show a bunch of terrified fishermen just who they were dealing with. It was a lavish gift given to a bunch of skeptical, anxious humans who did everything possible to not deserve it.