In Honor of Jacob…

The storm swept in suddenly, with absolutely no warning.
One moment it was a normal day.
Not fabulous but certainly not awful.
Just your average Wednesday.
Until the phone rang.
And the heavens opened.

The little boat that is my life was suddenly rocked hard.

That initial wave was so shocking that it took a while for me to realize just how enormous it was.
It is.
He was only 19.
And he is gone.
Taken in a car accident.

The wind roared in and in one moment, with one phone call, the waves went from gentle rocking to enormous, soul-swamping heights.
And it’s still raining.
Will be for some time.

So here is where I have choices.

I can stay in this little boat of my life that is being tossed about by circumstances and the emotions they bring.
I can bemoan the storm.
I can look inward and find all the pain, all the emotion, all the grief.
I can rail against the Creator who is in charge of the wind and waves.
And I can fold my arms against my chest, battening down the hatches until the storm stops.
Locking up my heart and my tears.
Using them to water the seed of bitterness that so desperately wants to take root in my heart.
Because I want to understand.
And because I hate these circumstances.

Tempting choice.

Or I could choose another way to deal with the storm.
Turn to something – or someone – that will help me to forget, at least for a moment.
Box up my emotions and this circumstance and then turn to a numbing agent.
Personally, I won’t choose drugs or alcohol. Those don’t tempt me.
But a plate full of carbs, preferably in the form of chocolate-something? Yes, please.
Eating away my sorrow? Sure.
Or choosing a friend to be my savior?
Turning to human comfort, looking for someone to love away the pain? Absolutely.

Those are both very tempting for me.

But then there is the sane choice.
The right choice.
The only one that will see me through this storm without major repercussions when it subsides.

Choosing to grab the hand that is extended to me.
The nail-scarred one.
The strong-yet-gentle hand of the carpenter from Nazareth, who is the King of Glory.

He is standing in the storm.
On the waves.
Un-rocked.
Unmoved.
Unshakeable.

And He invites me to get out of my boat and walk with Him.
Stand with Him.
Be victorious even over death – with Him.
Though the storm still rages.

And when I look into His eyes, I see His heart.
His heart for me.
And His heart for Jacob.
For his grieving family.
And the huge hole he leaves behind.
I see that Jesus is weeping with us even as He stands, rock-solid, on the waves.

He sees my pain.
Their pain.
Our pain.
And He understands.

But as I take His hand, I feel the scar beneath my fingers.
The one from the nail that pinned Him to the cross.
His love held Him there.
But the nails were the human instruments of torture they used.
Not because of His sin.
But for my sake.
For this exact moment.
My sin separated us before that.
It had to be paid for, atoned.
And so He did what needed to be done.
Dying in my place.
And then rising again so that I could experience this moment.
His presence in the storm.
His power over my circumstances.
His promises fulfilled in my life.

And that nail-scarred hand is the only hope I have in this horrible storm.
Because it represents every promise He has made – and died to keep.
It represents the resurrection power that brought Him to life again – and that now is at work in all who believe.
It reminds me that He is for me and not against me.
That He loved my friend Jacob and died for him as well.
That I will see Jacob again, sooner rather than later, because we both are trusting His work on the cross.
That God is inherently, inexpressibly good.
And that everything He does is right.
Even when I hate what He has allowed.
Even when my already limited sight is blinded by tears.
He is good. Those nails prove it.
His presences proves it.
And the peace that passes understanding proves it.

And for all those reasons, in Him, I have the power to walk these waves.
To stand on His promises instead of the shifting waters of my emotions.
To cling to His hand instead of my own strength.
To live what I say I believe, even in the darkest moments of life.

Yes, that standing comes with weeping.
And that is OK.
Because this is hard – but His love is harder still. Rock solid.
Even in the midst of the sea during a storm.
This hurts – but He hurts with me even as He reminds me that “weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
And this is holy. A time set apart, a time to be reminded, a time to remember.
Who He is.
What He has done.
How much He loves me.
How much He loves Jacob. And his family.
How all of His promises are true.
How I can trust Him even in the storm.
How important it is to tell others about Him so they, too, can have this hope.
And how even this is not the end of the story.
Not mine.
And not Jacob’s.
Jacob has turned the page in the book of his life from the title page to the first chapter far sooner than we expected.
He is now living the chapter entitled “Seeing Jesus Face to Face”.
With the subtitle, “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant”.

One day, sooner rather than later, God’s hand will turn that page in my life as well.
As well as yours.
Are you prepared for that day?
Jacob was.
I am.
And you can be, too.

And in the meantime, my prayer for you is that He will make Himself very real to you as you face the storms of this life.
Perhaps we share this storm.
Or perhaps yours are very different.
It doesn’t matter because waves are waves and wind is wind.
But He is God.
And He can give you all that you need to walk on water as well.
If you know Him.
And if you keep your eyes fixed on Him.
Pray for me to do that.
And I will pray for you as well.

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