Calming the storm

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly 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!’ Matthew 8:23-25

Jesus was the calmer of the storm when the disciples were terrified in their boat. I often think about that scene in my mind when I feel like I am bobbing around on the choppy seas of life.

Sometimes in my imagination I am stood at the bow of the boat, wind in my hair, riding the waves with confidence knowing that if I slip, Jesus will catch me.

Other times I’m under the deck, curled up, frightened to even open my eyes as the boat rocks and tips, praying I might feel a hand on my shoulder to save me.

I’m in the second scenario at the moment.

Some around me have noticed that my faith “phase” has not passed. This had made them nervous, scared that I’ve had some sort of episode, confused at why I have changed, cross that I am not the same person anymore, resentful that I have a different outlook. 

I just love God, that’s the bottom line. 

I am taking a path to follow Jesus.

He is calling me, I cannot ignore it, I don’t want to ignore it.

I dip back into the story of Jesus calming the storm when I feel like I am all at sea with no one to listen. 

As I started writing this post I was under the deck of the boat, hiding, scared, eyes closed, wrapped up in my own worry. I could not see that Jesus was already there with me.

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. – Mark 4:38

Nervously I stand up and get my balance, I climb up the steps and stick my head out of the hatch, the fresh windy air is invigorating, the boat still pitches and rolls, I’m unsure and duck down so only my eyes peer over, I see Jesus on the deck, so I get up and follow. 

I walk up the deck onto the bow, grasping the rail with each step, the wind is strong and I have to catch my breath but I’m still moving.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. – Mark 4:39

Finally I stand up tall, arms open. The storm is calm, I look across the water and my Lord is there with me.

I scramble over to the side of the boat, my feet swing over the side above sun sparkling sea and I watch as he smiles and walks, I am at peace once again.

 

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Comfort in the light

I love stained glass windows. There is something magical about them, the way each colour uniquely glows as the passing sunlight projects through the panes. I often find myself, neck craned, on tip toes trying to see every bit of detail, the images are static but in my mind they dance and change as frequently as the clouds roll by. 

In one of my local churches, just to the right of the altar, is a stained glass window with the depiction of Jesus on the cross. I only really get to look at it when I’m on my knees waiting to receive communion.

I had turned up early for the Thursday service, so I decided to wander down the aisle and stand at the foot of the altar so I could look at the window.
I was there only a few minutes and suddenly the sunlight broke through and shone brightly through the image of Christ; I took in a sharp breath and I held it as the light began to grow stronger and brighter. I didn’t want to move in case the sunlight disappeared, I felt the heat from the light growing, not only on my face but from my stomach, then rising into my chest. I couldn’t look away, I didn’t want to look away, my soul was being pulled, called to stay there at the altar. I was breathing heavier now, like I’d received amazing news and was taken aback. 

Eventually the light faded, I assumed the clouds had covered the sun in their grey blanket and the window became still again.

Suddenly I became very aware of where I was, standing at the foot of the altar, grasping my service book, my head raised, my eyes dry from lack of blinking. 

I looked away, how long had I been stood there? What had just happened? I felt like I’d swallowed a hot ball of fire which was still glowing like embers within me. 

For however long I’d been stood there the worries that I’d had when I’d walked into the church had been lifted. My heart felt lighter, even though I’d been told just a few hours before, that my parents marriage was over.

My legs finally obeyed and I turned to walk back down the aisle, I opened my pew door with clumsy hands.

I sat there feeling so thankful, so grateful and so humbled by the love of Christ. 

God’s love for us, projected through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is the best comfort I could receive.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

  

Young Knowledge

I was a young mother, I had my first daughter at 19 years old. I encountered a mixture of treatment from being pregnant at a young age, the most positive was from the midwives, they had confidence in me during labour and birth, they had faith that I would be a good mother.

It was a steep learning curve adapting to being a parent but I loved it, so much so I had my second daughter a year and a day later. I had the same midwife for my second birth, she had confidence in me, she believed I had the knowledge and experience regardless of my age.

Flash forward a few years and I had five children by the age of 24, I was knowledgeable about looking after babies, I knew how to have a good solid routine, how to breastfeed, how to cope with night waking, yet if I offered advice to other older mothers who asked questions at baby group, I was ignored.

I became afraid to talk about my experiences of being a young mother. I decided I would start to write about them instead, but would anyone believe the information I had to share? Would anyone take me seriously? Was my knowledge irrelevant because I was young?

I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. (Job 32:6)

I was terrified when I started my parenting blog, I remember hitting publish on my first post expecting to either be ignored or mocked. In fact neither of those things happened. My readership grew, my stories of potty training, night waking, and weaning were actually quite popular.

I have experienced this feeling of fear again, whilst sharing my experiences of being touched by God. Here I am, starting another blog to write about my journey, to share my ups and downs, but to write about one constant, God.

I remember taking the first step to vocalising my experience of hearing God’s word, I was concerned about whether I would be taken seriously or actually believed.

Elihu, so desperate to speak to Job, acknowledges that he is young and shares his fears of being ignored and offers evidence to show why he should be listened to:

“But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the almighty, that gives them understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.” (Job 32:8)

I thought of that passage as I sat in church, with my voice breaking as I told my story, my eyes hot with tears. Small patches of silence allowed my emotions to build like a wave, crashing over the fire in my chest. I was sitting down at the time, but inside I was on my knees; begging you not to cast away my story, pleading to let me tell you what I know.

I am (relatively) young, but I know God is with me, with all of us.

I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. I thought, “age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom” But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the almighty, that gives them understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.  (Job 32:6-9)