Saturday, June 20, 2009

Onward, part 3

Jesus is asleep as he is crossing the lake. He is on his way to a confrontation with a demon possessed man, a storm is lashing the boat, the disciples are terrified. And Jesus is asleep. When the disciples wake him up, what does he do? "Peace," he says, "be still." It says he's talking to the wind and water. But he might have been talking to us.

We normally seek peace by avoiding confrontations, by backing off, by turning our heads and looking away, by entertaining ourselves with gossip or sports or the weather. But Jesus does something different. "Peace," he says, "be still..." and they keep going. They cross the lake; they cross the border from safety to a place and a person who is anything but safe--and while the disciples look on Jesus defeats evil, frees the possessed man, and tells him to go and tell all his friends and family about the wonderful, powerful mercy of God.

Usually, you and I, we do one of two things. Either we leave evil alone, seeking peace, or we think we need to somehow charge in under our own foolish power. Either we decide it's not our problem or we decide we've got to take care of things on our own.

But God has another way. Like Moses at the Red Sea, seeing the attacking Egyptian army, saying " The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still." Or, like David standing with stone and sling against Goliath, saying "You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord."

Neither backing down nor attacking, just trusting and praying and waiting for the Lord to do his work. That's God's way. Remaining steadfast in prayer for those who are lost. Never forgetting them, even when it seems totally beyond our power to help, but waiting for that time when God will act, and making ourselves available for the time of his choosing. And remembering that we too are sinners, totally dependent on the grace of God.

Who are those who seem to be beyond help? Alcoholics or drug addicts who have been through treatment multiple times? Those who are mentally ill? Or perhaps a family member or even a father who has lost his way? I've been one of those that others may have thought were lost. I am evidence, and perhaps you are too, that God can, and God does, to amazing, miraculous things. And God may choose even you and empower you to do his work. Nothing is too hard for God.

My son Jon is part of a Christian band that God seems to be using to reach kids who wouldn't come to church. Some churches and preachers regularly confront evil in a way that seems crude to me. Women in our community are praying that the Lord would guide them to reach out to people we usually forget. And in the ELCA, our church is daring to deal with complex, controversial issues that make me very uncomfortable.

What will we do? Leave well enough alone? Attack? Or pray for the Lord's peace and keep moving onward to do his work, allowing him to lead us even to places and people that we would just as soon avoid. I pray that will be our answer.

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