There are a lot of little threads converging on this post for me, that all began with my realization that God wants me to move forward and not just say, "Don't worry about it, He'll forgive it." He'll work with me if I work for it. Those threads will end in a little boat on the Sea of Galilee, but they started on the football field in Buffalo way back in November 2010.
Yesterday this was brought up by my son, who has apparently downloaded a "stupid tweets" app onto his phone. He found this one that was tweeted three years ago after Bills WR Stevie Johnson did what he does best- he dropped a pass:
"I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!!AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO..."
I told KC about a SM from just a few weeks ago when I spoke on rants like this. Remember this?
Here is where the cork popped. I had a long one sided talk with God that involved a lot of whining and complaining, and saying Job was right all along. What is the point of being faithful if it only gets more crap piled on top of you?
And I knew certain facts about such an eruption. First, it was petty, pointless, and stupid. Second, it was an argument I was never gonna win. Third, the tension release would give me a short-term release, followed by feeling guilty and stupid, because I'd just done what Satan wanted. And finally, because I'd done what Satan wanted, something would shortly happen to make me feel two inches tall.
On queue, my top boss came out and said, "well, (the lady who does canopies) has five or six back there. I think Debbie will be in Saturday, so she can cut some if she needs more. If you can get six or seven covers (I was cutting the fifth one at the time), we should be okay."
Well, now Stevie and I have something in common. And while I can't speak for Stevie, I knew better. Because Jesus is sleeping in the boat.
HUH? Bear with.
As I read this morning before the sermon, I hit Daniel 6, where Belshazzar has just seen the handwriting on the wall, but doesn't know what it means. Or does he? Because Daniel points out that Belshazzar knew what had happened to his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar for not humbling himself before God- and because he had this example, and still turned to his sinful ways, it was going to be much worse for him.
Then I rumbled into Hosea, and got hit by two related verses- well, not related to Belshazzar, but to myself. The second one was in 6:4 where God through Hosea admonishes, "For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud; and like the early dew it goes away." The first one though, hit me the more for the way it was written. Because of all the translations I have access to, none of them puts it quite the way it is in the battered old Bible the UAW gave us when Mom died. The translation is called "the New American Bible (not New American Standard, mind you), an American Catholic translation. In it, Hosea 5:11 reads like this:
"Is Ephraim mistreated, his rights violated? No, he has willingly gone after filth!"
I like this, because it puts it in the form of a yes-or-no question. Is God unfair? Or is it me? If I sin, if I fall into hard times, where does the blame lie?
I have been debating lately on the paradox of how things seem to go easier when you are being a lazy Christian, but should you tighten up your obedience, you end up like me and Stevie- hitting the storms and blaming God for them. And this is where we get to this morning's sermon.
The story is when Jesus and the Apostles, exhausted from non-stop preaching to a crowd that had literally pushed them offshore, decided to cross the sea to get some down time. While Jesus crashed, a storm came up. Peter and co. were passing out the buckets, bailing as fast as they could, as the wind and waves rocked the boat and threatened to swamp it. Meanwhile, Jesus was STILL SLEEPING. And this kinda teed them off, and they woke Him up, shouting, "Don't you care we're gonna die???"
So here's the important question- WHY was Jesus sleeping? BE-cause, He had equipped them with everything they needed to handle the situation THEMSELVES. But they booted the ball. All they needed was faith, and He had shown them that time and again. And, since they were perfectly capable of handling the storm, Jesus slept while the storm went on.
Do you hear my voice, or Stevie's, in the Apostle's cry? Do you hear yours? One thing to take into account here is that when the journey started, the goal was to cross the sea and get some rest. But when the storm hit, the Apostles' goal contracted down to surviving the storm. But Jesus' goal was still the same- getting to the other side to rest. When the storm hits, we contract the goal down to surviving the storm- whether it be a major financial blow, a rocky spot in marriage, illness, what have you. Or, dropping a football. But if Jesus is in our boats, we have what we need to get across, through it, if we're not too busy panicking, screaming for help, blaming God for the whole mess.
So what does this have to do with moving forward? Well, it occurs to me that their are two ways we can deal with the battle between our sinful nature and moving forward- the extreme or the non-extreme. For example of the first, you can demand of yourself to never commit the sin again, focusing all your efforts, all your prayers, all your "faith", on the problem. And when you slip up, as you will inevitably do, the whole structure of your "faith" collapses, and the boat sinks. Another example is like I said at the top of the thing, "Forget it, it's forgiven,"- and you follow a wrong perception of Jesus example, and sleep it away. And the boat sinks.
The non-extreme is a different bird. The lessons from the storm on the sea here are-
- The goal lies BEYOND the storm.
- You have the equipment to deal with it. What Jesus did by faith, you can do, too- if not so successfully.
- Jesus is in the boat. You WILL make it to the other side. Just gotta put some faith and some work into it.
--The Apostles survived, but I'll bet they were soaked when it was over- and maybe in need of a change of underwear. It's okay to get a little wet, you'll dry. (meaning don't let your whole faith collapse if you fall.)