Sisters and brothers,
I hope and pray that you all have been safe and finding peace during these challenging times. 2020 has been a year that will not be forgotten. I think about you all often. I find myself thinking about each of you several times throughout the course of the week. Even when I speak to a camera that has no soul, I try to picture your faces.
COVID-19 has changed our lives, our families, our communities, and our world. When my family and I arrived in OKC and embarked on this journey of leading this remarkable group of people, I never in my wildest dreams imagined such a difficult first year of pastoral ministry. I have teased my predecessors and mentors, Mike Rasmussen and Mike Urmie, that they did not mentor me on how to lead through a pandemic. Nobody can prepare us for what we have encountered as a church family.
Nobody can prepare us for what we have encountered as a church family.
But, what I have found through the challenges of 2020 has been a new-found peace and deepening of faith in Jesus. I was listening to another pastor’s message this morning (yes, it’s okay to listen to others preach. :D) and I was reminded about a particular story in the bible. It’s the story when Jesus and his disciples are crossing across the sea of Galilee and they encounter a massive storm that was about to sink the boat they were in. The story can be found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and I encourage you to read the full story.
What strikes me about this story starts in verse 24 in Matthew 8. It says, “Jesus was asleep.” Just think about that for a moment. This fierce storm with high waves breaking into the boat and filling the boat with water and Jesus is sleeping! In the Mark writing it adds that Jesus’ head was on a cushion!Jesus was nice and cozy with his cushion.I don’t know about you, but I want that cushion! That must be one remarkable cushion!
His disciples fearing for their lives abruptly wake up Jesus by shouting at him, “Lord, rescue us! We’re going to drown!”?” Which makes all the sense, doesn’t it?
Then, as Jesus gets up from his nap he asks the disciples such an obvious question. “Why are you afraid, you people of weak faith?”
Why are they afraid? WHY ARE THEY AFRAID?! Does Jesus not see what’s going on around them? A fierce and giant storm is about engulf and sink this boat and probably kill everybody! Now’s not the time to ask the obvious questions…
But, Jesus, the creator of all things, stands up and says, “Silence! Be still!”
At the end of Matthew 8:26 it says, “and there was a great calm.”
Silence…be still…a great calm.
Jesus never promised that life would get easier if we followed him. We are not promised that we would not be subjected to the troubles, hurts, and pains of the world. There will be and are storms that you are facing…right now! Some storms may be little waves and make you a little seasick-puts you down for a little bit. But, there are storms that you might be in right now that you are uncertain whether you’ll survive it. You might even be shouting at Jesus like what is written in Mark: “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”
Maybe you feel like you’re drowning.
However, be encouraged my brothers and sisters. Jesus did not promise a great weather report with no storms. But, he did promise “never will I leave you, nor will I forsake you.” Jesus is not somewhere else in a cozy warm home on the shore. Jesus…he is right there in the middle of the storm with you. He is in the boat with you. Jesus is peace. Peace is in the middle of the storm.
Jesus…he is right there in the middle of the storm with you. He is in the boat with you.
I wonder when Jesus said, “Silence! Be still!” and there was a great calm if he may not have been even talking to his disciples…you and I. Maybe Jesus is telling us during our storm, SILENCE! Stop with all the noise. Just be still! Just breath. The creator of the created is already here. Don’t be afraid.
Maybe…just maybe…if we silence the noise and be still, we will experience Jesus bringing a great calm within our souls in the middle of the storm.
If you, or someone you know of who needs help with anything during this storm of a global pandemic, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact our team at our website gcsurreyhills.org/contact. We are a family and we are here to love one another and serve one another.
I have been discussing and working with the leadership team about future plans on getting back together as a family. It may be a little different than what we are all used to but we believe it will be good for the GC Surrey Hills family! We will release more info in the coming weeks.
On behalf of me, my wife, Megan, as well as the entire GC Surrey Hills leadership, we love you and miss you dearly. You absolutely matter. Our hearts long for the day when we get to see you again.
May you, brothers and sisters, find rest, peace, and a cozy cushion in the middle of the storm.
Grace and peace,