"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rough winds

Wind has a truly amazing power. The plant I hung on the hook outside was knocked off and on the ground.. the hook itself broken from the event. The bird feeder was askew, empty of all seed. Our electricity had been precarious when the winds kicked up. Sealed up safely in our home we could still hear the sounds of the wind whipping through the town. Almost scary sounds... It is amazing the power of wind.

I journeyed this morning through an exercise in Alice Fryling's book, The Art of Spiritual Listening. This book has been used greatly in my life. I opened it this morning with anticipation. I was not disappointed. She directed me to the all familiar passage in Mark 4 where Christ takes his disciples across the water. Apparently, Christ falls asleep and a great squall comes up. Early in our journey through this passage Fryling asks us what a "squall" is... I didn't have a ready definition in my head. I could imagine one. I knew it had something to do with wind. Strong, violent wind.

At some point in the journey she asks us to sit quietly, imagining our lives as a boat, and then she asks us to discern what the "wind" is in our lives. What is that powerful force that swells up? What is that which threatens us, rocks us, and brings instant fear somewhere deep within? My answer was immediate. The answer within me was ready. I know what the winds are in my life.

The answer isn't "busyness"... a busy schedule is the waves, breaking over the boat and nearly drowning me sometimes. The answer isn't insecurity, pride, frustration, or fear... those are the my boat "rocking". No... my "winds" are expectations. Those MUSTS... or SHOULDS... in my life, coming at me at high speed.

When I look up squall in the dictionary I find that it most definitely has to do with winds... Squall is defined as a "sudden, sharp increase in wind speed". This describes my heart-life a bit. I don't feel the pressure of expectations all the time. They just come up! I am going about my day, or sitting quietly before the Lord in a devotion time and BAM--- a sudden, sharp increase in wind speed. Oh!, I think, I haven't called so-and-so, Oh! I need to do such-and-such, Oh man!, I never did this-and-that, Oh yeah!, I forgot to write whoze-it.... And certainly this squall is accompanied by the thoughts or perceived (made-up or assumed) expectations of the person(s) I am letting down because I haven't called, written, or done. And those are the main gusts... expectations. Oh! The winds pick up speed rapidly in my heart.

The to-do list gets filled up, the schedule "figured out" and adjusted... these waves get quite large and begin to threaten my boat. And, then the fear, the worry, the pride, the insecurity, and the real annoyance--- my boat is now rocking!!

Fryling asks a poignant question that opened my eyes not only to my winds, my waves, and my boat--- but to my attitude. She asks, "What did the disciples say to Jesus before He calmed the storm?" As I read prayerfully the answer was as plain as day, "Teacher, don't you care..." Do you care, Lord!?

I get mad at Him somewhere deep within when I feel those waves and the rocking of my boat. Don't you care, Lord! You have me here! You gave me these responsibilities! You made my weak body! I can only do so much, Lord, you know that! Don't you care?!!

Christ stands and up rebukes the winds. "Shut up, expectations!" "Be still, busyness and planning!" "Be quiet, you musts and shoulds!", He says. My rocking boat begins to calm again. He rebukes the wind and the waves first and then... He rebukes His disciples. Steph, why are you so afraid?! Why do you listen to those winds and hear scary sounds? Do you not yet trust me, Stephanie? Where is your faith? So easily lost... I almost hear dissapointment in His voice. Or is it compassion?

What do the disciples say to Jesus after He calms the storms?, Fryling asks... They say nothing. What can I say? Oh, yeah! I forgot who You are Lord!! Oh yeah!, I forgot who I am because You are with me!! Oh yeah! I forgot Your power, Your love and Your Presence! I forgot Lord!

They look at each other in a half surprised, half wondering way--- Who is this! Who is this One that we are following!

Winds have power, yes... but the Lord of Heaven and Earth, my loving Father, made the winds and the waves! I can trust Him in my boat. What would it be to actually be able to sleep with Him in the boat? What would my life look like if I trusted Him so much that I saw the squall and just layed down next to Him to sleep?

This sweet journey ends with an exercise that brought peace and enlarged my soul to fit a bit more faith this morning. She says, "Set aside some time to sit with the verse, 'Be still, and know that I am God' (Ps. 46:10). Repeat the verse to yourself, leaving off one word at a time. Be quiet and prayerful as you sit in God's presence. Spend a few minutes with each phrase...
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know that
Be still and know
Be still and
Be still
Oh Lord, lead me forward in rest and stillness in You. May I know You more so that I may trust You more. May I know that you are the "I am". May I know that you can do all things... May I be still. Oh, loving Father teach me to rest.
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