A month ago I was asked to prepare something to share during advent lighting. All the members on worship commission took a Sunday to share about joy. I got assigned "joy in suffering". Now that's a tough one. How do you sum that up in 3-5 minutes? I've been musing and praying for God to show me what to say.
Then last week, I found myself staring down at my friend as she lay in ICU, critically ill.
Two days later, we learned she was beginning to improve, but in my morning prayers, I suddenly remembered the story of Jesus calming the stormy seas, and it seemed like I actually heard the words, "Jesus, is in the boat!" Not two hours later, I learned another friend had a stroke. I made my way to the hospital to visit. On the way in, I ran into a friend who had her son at the lab for testing for a feverish illness. On the way back down in the elevator, I ran into my cousin who informed me my second cousin had just been admitted for a blood clot in her lungs. So, back up the elevator I went to visit her as well.
Really, Lord! Don't you think this is enough?
The next day, we prayed as the spouse of another coworker was in the cardiac cath lab waiting to see if open heart surgery was needed.
Lord, wake up! This boat is going to sink! Please calm this storm.
Finally, last night, I sat and wrote out the words for my advent sharing, entitled: yep, "JESUS IS IN THE BOAT!"--a dramatic paraphrase of Psalm 46, Mark 4, and Joy to the World:
"Shhh! Jesus is sleeping in our boat!" (whispered, in the voice of a disciple)
It's been a long day, a long week,
We're taking the boat across the lake--away from it all!
God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in times of trouble. (Psalmist declarative voice)
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.
Though the waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
The waves have been rocking the boat for hours now, (disciple voice-emotional)
A huge, huge storm is upon us!
The sails have been slapping back and forth,
The waves are coming over the sides of the boat,
We're taking on water, threatening to sink us!
--Yet still, the Christ, he sleeps in our boat?! (exasperation, disbelief)
There is a river whose streams make glade the city of God. (Psalmist voice; declarative)
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered.
Then, finally, we woke Jesus, 'Lord, wake up! Don't you see we are about to go down? (disciple voice-desparation)
Don't you care, we are about to sink!'
Then He stood, arms stretched out to the winds and the waves, and He spoke,
"Peace, be still."
And the wind died down. And the waves calmed. All became still.
He raised His voice, and the earth melted. The Lord of Hosts is with us. (Psalmist voice)
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Then, we fell at His feet, 'Jesus, you are the Son of God! The Son of God is in our boat!' (disciple voice-confessional voice)
Jesus is in our boat! (my voice, amazement, louder)
Jesus is in our boat!
He's come. He's come to make His glories known, as far as the curse is found.
Peace, be still. The Son of God is in your boat.
These are tidings of great joy!