The devastation from Hurricane Michael is a reminder of just how quickly a storm can turn our world upside down.  The worst of nature can bring out the best in people.  I watched as the fear of devastation caused the people of Florida to reach out to one another without regard to race, ethnicity, culture or economic status.  It’s a beautiful thing with pictures and stories celebrated on the evening news.  Our nation is hungry to see unity.  A devastating storm can do just that!  It reduces us to a place of helplessness in the shadow of a mighty storm.  It’s a reset button; a re-calibration of our compass.

It reminds me of a story found in the Gospels:

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.  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?”  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”     Mark 4:35-41

You know this story.  The scene: Jesus and the disciples on board a fishing boat, at night in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.  Note: the Sea of Galilee lies 700 feet below sea level surrounded by highlands & Mount Hermon to the northeast rising to 9,000 feet above sea level.  The cold highland air meets rising hot air from the sea to create huge storms.

The Greek term for “furious squall” is used here to describe a fierce windstorm which literally means “sea quake”.  It was like a hurricane.  The sides of the fishing boat were low and the boat is taking on water.  For the disciples, this was not something they were going to survive.

And of course, Jesus is laying on a cushion, sound asleep.  He is exhausted from a full day of ministry.  With all that’s happening, he’s sleeping like a baby.  Until, of course, the disciples wake him to ask a poignant question: “Don’t you care that we’re going to die”?

God – where are you when I need you?  Don’t you know I can’t pay my bills, keep this marriage together, survive this diagnosis, overcome this depression & anxiety, reconcile with my brother, beat this addiction?  Don’t you see my enemies surrounding me, hear their insults?  Why are you sleeping when I’m on the verge of death?

Fear replaces faith, even when God is so close you can hear him breathe and feel his heartbeat.

Then Jesus, speaks: “Silence!  Be Still!” or literally “be still, and stay still” and nature responds immediately with a great calm.  The fear of the disciples refers to timidity and lack of confidence in God.  But even so, Jesus transformed the great storm into a great calm with a single breath.

But don’t miss the real gut punch here!  After Jesus had calmed the storm and rebuked them for their lack of faith, this happened:

THEY WERE TERRIFIED – literally “they feared a great fear”.  The great storm that Jesus turned into a great calm now led to great fear! “Who is this that even the wind and sea obey him?”

This is the fear which brings a reset and re-calibration.  It’s me and you eclipsed in the sheer magnitude and power of Almighty God.  It’s a fall on your knees and worship kind of fear.  It’s a fear that brings unity, without question or regard.  It’s a fear that melts away all our other fears.

If you find yourself faced with a hurricane, remember: God is in the boat.  But even more so, when He melts the storm away with a word, concede your flesh and ambitions for a place of humility, subjection and submissiveness before the magnitude of who He is!

There’s never been a better place to be before a Holy God!  And just like those scenes from Florida of help, caring and selflessness in the wake of a storm; choose gentleness and kindness as you lead unity in His Church!

Routine often dulls us to the majestic and beautiful.  That which we see and enjoy on a daily basis succumbs to the certainty that it/he/she will always be there.  We often take for granted those who are closest to us until it’s too late.

This summer, while at the beach, I played in the sun until I got burned.  And then I sat in the shade complaining about the heat and sunburn and wishing I had a little respite from the singe of the sun’s rays.

But the past February, I longed for just a flicker of warmth and the feel of the sun on my face and it’s steady warmth to sooth my pale soul.  I was homesick for the very thing in the summer which I wished would wane.

Every day we’ve had on this earth, the sun has risen and set in it’s path.  We set our clocks by it’s course and we live out our schedules completely tethered to the sun’s timetable.  We just take it for granted.

It is God, who at the beginning of the age of this earth created the sun and set her course:

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.  And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.  Genesis 1:14-19

Yet today she will go dark.  That which we have grown to rely upon and take for granted will be momentarily snuffed out.

This time, we’re expecting it.  We have our certified viewing glasses.  NASA has given us the forecast schedule and it’s a big party.

Next time, it will be unexpected.  That which we have taken for granted will be darkened as a sign in the heavens:

“The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.”  Joel 2:31

“I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;”  Revelation 6:12

Today, as we enjoy the total eclipse of the sun, remember to pause and give thanks for it’s light – for it is a gift from God.  When she peeks her head back out from behind the moon, pause and give thanks for His grace that gives us a second chance.

And finally – do as the scripture says:

From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!
Psalm 133:3

Praise Him for this day, for the Word tells us His day of judgement which will darken the earth will surely come!

So let your LIGHT shine!

 

 

Very soon we will enter the week of passover observance. And so it was on the eve of the cross Jesus gathered with His disciples in the upper room to observe passover; a traditional feast they had each participated in countless times. It was a recognition of God’s covenant with His people. They would break bread and take the cup to remember the miraculous salvation of the Hebrews from the angel of death and thus the oppression of Pharaoh.

It was a covenant that would soon be updated! For it would, in just a brief moment, be eclipsed by the a bold pronouncement from Christ Himself: “This is MY BODY…this is MY BLOOD”! The new covenant was now replacing the old.

In a fraction of a moment, God replaced a lamb for The Lamb of God!

Sin once forgiven for a moment, now forgotten for eternity through the Lamb – our sin debt paid in full.
Now the Angel of Death would pass over us. The red crimson blood was placed on our forehead, upon our heart and the sting of death banished from all who find shelter in the shadow of His mercy.
Next week Passover begins. Our Jewish brothers and sisters will gather to reflect on the faithfulness of Yaweh to deliver His people.

They will worship under the old covenant. Yet still His chosen people.

For it is through the line of David that we as gentiles find our salvation.
And because of this they’ve become the most persecuted people since the call of Abraham and the birth of a new nation. Today I can’t help but be drawn to the plight of Israel. I sense God’s longing to bring them home to Himself. I sense time is fleeting and we must be praying for the salvation of Israel.
Have you ever noticed how so much political unrest and deep hatred centers around Israel?  She is a democratic nation surrounded by enemies on all sides.  Yet, even so, she continues to thrive and prosper.  We would be wise to remember God’s covenant with His people, for it has no expiration date.  We are commanded to pray for Israel (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. – Psalm 122:6).

Pray we must…speak out we must…and be prepare to always defend our scriptural allies! Good Friday is a convergence of Passover and The Lamb of God!

The symbolism is profound and has deep meaning. Don’t miss it! God leaves nothing to chance.
Jesus was the Messiah who fulfilled every prophecy and now stands as the Lion of Judah!
He has come to save His covenant people and we have the enormous benefit of being the orphaned child, adopted, upgraded and placed at the same table with His chosen.
Thank you Jesus!