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?”
Storms fill most everyone with just a little bit of fear. Sometimes you can see the storm coming or sometimes they come out of a blue sky. While the storm in this story brought fear to experienced sailors, the greatest fear came after Jesus calmed the storm. It was the storm that brought them face to face with the idea that Jesus was no ordinary teacher. Now they must decide who Jesus was and if they were going to follow him. We also must decide who Jesus is. Will we accept him as a good teacher or the Powerful Son of God? Will we awaken him, call on him, and let him calm the storms in our lives?
Jesus, Controller of Storms
We bow in amazement at your power and accept you as Lord. Strengthen our little faith. Calm the storms in our life and bring us the peace that comes from trusting you.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
An important part of our recent road trip north was time spent in the Chicago Botanical Garden. Here I experienced the beauty of a garden in a new way. Every plant, every walkway, every statue, and every bench is in its place for a purpose. It is easy to find silent places in a garden, especially a large garden early in the morning, to just sit and wait on God.
While I don’t have a garden as beautiful as the Chicago Garden to go to every day, I do need to learn to sit in silence and wait on God. I think I do hear him in a special way when I can sit in a garden, for it was in a garden where God first put man. It is in the silence of his presence that I find hope and strength to move through the noisy world. Take time today to sit in silence and view God's world if only through a window. Open your heart to him and find hope.
Creator of Gardens
Thank you for the beauty and lessons I find in gardens. Teach me to wait in silence each day for you. My whole being rests in only you, my refuge from the noisy world.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
The sun sets over the calm, still waters of the lake. It is peaceful here now, but I have seen the lake with choppy waters and a dark threatening sky during a passing thunderstorm. The only true place to find peace in our troubled world is in Jesus Christ. This weekend I came across a beautiful song about peace. I will put the first verse here and here is a link to the song on YouTube sung by Claire Crosby and her dad Dave Crosby and written by McKenna Hixson.
There is peace in Christ;
When we learn of him;
Feel the love he felt for us
When he bore our sins;
Listen to his words;
Let them come alive if we know him as he is
There is peace in Christ
He gives us hope when hope is gone
He gives us strength when we can't go on
He gives us shelter in the storms of life
When there's no peace in earth
There is peace in Christ
God of Peace,
Thank you for the peace that only you can give.
The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
I left the camper with only my camera and started up the path to the lake. The sun was up but just barely and since it rained during the night a light mist lay over the lake. It was so quiet and still.
It is hard to find quiet in our noisy world. We must make a conscious effort to shut out the noise of the world and listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd. He knows our name, knows us better than we do ourselves, and he is calling us. We will only hear his call when we are quiet and listen. He will go ahead of us for he knows the best way to go.
Quiet my soul and open my ears to hear you calling. Thank you for calling me by name. I want to always follow where you lead. Forgive me when I go my own way and pull me back to your fold.
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
There is something about seeing a beautiful sunset that just makes it easier to rest. We have seen the beauty of God’s world and sleep just seems to come much easier. Not every day has just the right amount of clouds in just the right places for that beautiful sunset. Even on days when the clouds cover the sun, if we put or trust in God we find a security that gives us peace and rest in even the most difficult circumstances.
Teach us to trust in you even when our circumstances seem to be filled with darkness. Show us your beauty and give our weary souls the rest that only your peace can give.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
It was late afternoon, the busy dock was closed, and the lake was calm, quiet, and still when I took this picture on our walk around the lake. There was such a sense of rest and peace. But there was no sense of rest or peace when the prophet Isaiah spoke these words to a rebellious people.
Rest is something that can be very hard to find. We want to do a good job and work hard to seek perfection. So many times I hear people call themselves perfectionists and there was a time when I would have called myself the same thing. But I have learned that perfectionism is a burden that I no longer want to carry. When we seek perfection we are seeking to save ourselves by the quality of our work instead of trusting God to save us. We need these words of the Lord spoken through the prophet Isaiah today. We need to return to God when our work becomes our way to salvation and then in quietness and trust we will find true salvation and rest.
"Father, help me to use the gospel on myself to weaken the perfectionism that makes my work a burden. Give me the deep rest of soul that comes to the degree I remember I am saved by faith in Jesus, not by the quality of my work. Amen."
Taken from Timothy Keller’s Book, God's Wisdom for Navigating Life
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
About This Image:
Waterfalls can be loud and exciting or quiet and calming. I love to walk by quiet streams like this one on Roaring Fork in the Great Smoky Mountains. This verse has been one of my favorite verses for a long time. I love the imagery of God singing over me, like a mother sings over her newborn. But when I went to read this verse again today another phrase spoke to me - "he will quiet you by his love:" I thought how else can we find quiet except when we are sure we are loved. When we need to be quieted, like when we are stressed, isn't it when we are focusing on something other than God's love for us - trying to make our own way instead of trusting him.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
About This Image:
I had seen this tree many times on trips to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains, but not until this day in the fog did I see its beauty. It is in a field where the horses graze at the beginning of the loop road and I usually rush by to get to more scenic views. This morning the loop road was closed to all but walkers and bicyclists. The fog covered all the business of the field that I usually see and because we were walking, there was no rushing. It was so quiet and still. It is not easy to be still and wait, especially in silence, in our busy world. To wait in silence requires trust in a God who is stronger than you, who loves you with a steadfast love. Silence, an inner stillness, peace, only come when we put our focus on God. It can't be achieved any other way.
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