Best of Daily Reflections: Finding God in All the Wrong Places: In the Midst of Fear
A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
Introduction from Mark Roberts: Today, Rev. Susan Pendleton Jones begins a five-day series of Finding God in All the Wrong Places: In the Midst of Fear, Lack, Grief, Shame, and Hopelessness. All of us experience these places of pain and struggle at different times in our lives. Isn’t it wonderful that, as we read the stories of Jesus, we discover anew that God is already there in these hard places? He will not only walk with us through life’s most difficult times but will see us through—in unexpected and unimaginable ways. I'm delighted to welcome her as this week's "guest reflector," and I commend her reflections to you with enthusiasm. In her "day job," Susan is the Associate Dean for United Methodist Initiatives at Duke Divinity School. She and her husband, Greg, are great friends and partners of The High Calling.
The disciples have just heard Jesus’ beautiful teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). They have been listening with their ears and absorbing with their hearts the Words of Life which Jesus offers. Now, in these subsequent chapters of Matthew’s gospel, the disciples are invited to follow and imitate the Master—to begin putting into practice the teachings they have just learned.
Jesus models discipleship by meeting the needs of those around him: touching a leper and making him whole, healing the centurion’s servant, healing Peter’s mother-in-law, ministering to both outsiders and insiders in the community, and calling his disciples to do the same.
Finally, Jesus and his disciples get into a boat on the Sea of Galilee. While he sleeps, a storm arises on the sea, and the disciples fear that they are about to die. They wake him with the words, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
How often have we been in the place of those disciples? We believe the words of Jesus, we may have even experienced his healing presence at work in our lives. Yet we lose heart and even question our faith because we feel out of control and threatened and afraid.
I John reminds us: “Perfect love casts out fear.” As we live into the perfect love of Christ—the one who has come to bring calm to all the storms and fears of our lives—we learn to develop a life of trust, and we begin to live more fully into faithful discipleship, knowing that only in Christ do we find true salvation.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: There is much in our modern-day society that promotes fear: news programs focus on crisis situations, the headlines of newspapers herald bad news, even television commercials show us home burglaries to induce us into buying security systems. There are many industries designed to help us feel safe. How different would the world look if we trusted more fully in God’s providential care rather than in the security we believe people or products can provide for us? Are there areas in your life where you have given into the power of fear rather than trusting in the goodness of God?
PRAYER: Loving God, hear us as we come to you in all our times of need. So often we feel broken; we need your healing touch. So often we are afraid; we need your calming Spirit at work in our lives. So often we seek security rather than trusting you for the future. Heal us, forgive us, renew us. Free us from the grip of fear so that we may serve you joyfully! Bring to us that same sense of peace that you gave those disciples on the Sea of Galilee so many years ago. In the name of Christ we pray. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.