Friday, February 4, 2011

Stormy Weather

We have been in some rough waters lately.

When we decided to move our family to France we knew that there would be days/weeks/months like this. Our recent experience was not worse or even different than we had anticipated. Unfortunately, that did not make it any easier. We had about three solid weeks of rampant discouragement, volatile tempers, raging emotions, and flailing faith. The boys were struggling with the French school system, which seemed to be demanding more of them than is humanly possible. David and I were watching them suffer and yet, we were powerless to help. Our circle of friends in France is extremely limited, which means that we were also feeling isolated.

Last Monday, when I was completely exhausted from what had felt like 257 straight hours of intense parenting and desperate praying, the Lord sent me a message. It was like a lifeguard had thrown a life-ring to a drowning swimmer.

The message did not arrive with thunder and lightning. It did not come to my e-mail inbox nor was it a post on my Facebook wall. The message was delivered by a French Lutheran pastor who was a guest speaker for our Chapel time at school. He was formal and reserved and he spoke words of wisdom that I will remember for the rest of my days. I am certain that he was God's messenger for me.

He spoke on a passage that was so familiar to me, I could not imagine that he was going to say anything that I hadn't heard before. But he did.

First, he read this. (He read it in French, of course, but I'll post it here in English to keep things simple. :)

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" MT 8:23-17

Even though it is a very well-known text, it caught my attention; for I was, at that moment, in the midst of my own sort of storm. I knew that Jesus was with me in my storm, and I knew that I would make it through. But then the pastor pointed out a nuance that I had not seen before. He said something like this. (He said it in French, of course, but I will post it in English to keep things simple. :)

"Do you see that when the disciples awaken Jesus they are fraught with fear, but Jesus does not immediately calm the storm? No, there in the midst of the raging storm, he addresses their lack of faith. Can you imagine the sloshing water, the roaring thunder, the pounding rain, the looks of sheer terror on the disciples' faces? And Jesus, in that moment, wants to discuss their faith. First, Jesus deals with their faith issues and THEN He changes their circumstances."

Conviction came like an arrow to my soul. In my fervent prayers I had been frantically asking the Lord the change my circumstances. Right then, it was as if He were looking me straight in the eye and asking me, "Why are you so afraid?" You see, while I knew that He was with me in the storm, I was still panicking. I was praying prayers of despair, not prayers of hope. I was devoid of genuine faith. In other words, I "knew" in my head that God would see me through the storm, but I was not living like I believed that very simple truth.

And so I repented for my unbelief. And then, as a child hands a parent an atrocious (though thoughtfully intended) finger-painting, I handed my Savior my battered (though thoughtfully intended) faith. It isn't much to look at, but He knows it's all I have to give.

This week, our circumstances have not changed one iota. The storm is still raging. Our outlook, however, is an entirely different story. We are riding the waves with confidence, sometimes even joy. We know that the One who called us is faithful. We are living like we believe it.


  1. Amen!!! Thank you Jenn. To see that you move forward in repentance and grace encourages me. Here in the snowscape of OK, where getting out is nigh on impossible and not knowing when we might go home or what our next step is, I too have to hand Him a battered faith. You've put it all into treasured words.

  2. Be strong my dear friend. God tells me he is with you and will always be with you. You and your brood are in our prayers and the prayers of many. None of us are perfect in our faith but God does not care. He is the one who truly gives unconditional love.

  3. I can think of no better path through life than what you and your family are espousing!

  4. Your obedience in stepping out of that boat into the stormy waves will increase your faith and bring you unspeakable joy. I marvel at the steps you have taken to serve. Your boys will NEVER forget this experience and have already grown so much through it:-) Roberta

  5. Aw, sweet cousin. Thanks for sharing so freely. I am continually reminded that I have need of perseverance. Different when it comes to life and off the page.