A Story of His Grace

Luke 8:22-25 (the message)
One day he and his disciples got in a boat. “Let’s cross the lake,” he said. And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
      Getting to his feet, he told the wind, “Silence!” and the waves, “Quiet down!” They did it. The lake became smooth as glass.
      Then he said to his disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?”
      They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, “Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!”

As I sleepily read these verses I stop to ponder a bit…

My husband’s Granny passed away yesterday.  Her health had been declining for some time, but still who is ever ready to hear the words?

Shannon spent a lot of time with his Granny as a kid.  I believe she influenced his passion for growing a garden and working hard.  I believe she loved him very much and she has always had a special part of his heart.

Granny’s life was a hard one.  Oh I only know a speck of her story, but the speck I know was enough.  So, as Shannon and I drove to be with family yesterday I thought of her.  As I looked up into a gray sky I thought of the bitterness she tasted in life, the loss and pain.  The struggle.

Then I thought of her with Jesus.  Free in every way…Oh, I know she’s there.  I know it.  It makes me happy-cry this morning.

Last night my father-in-law, who helped to care for his mom as her health failed, talked a little while about what Granny went through over the past year or so.  Smile…Granny was a tough ol’ bird.  She was feisty and independent and spoke her mind.  You knew where she stood on things.  Granny would send you home with a quilt she made just as easily as shoot a hole in her porch trying to kill a possum.

Uh-huh.

Granny made me a little nervous for the first couple of years I knew her.  I think she had to figure me out…this “city girl” (smile… if you only knew I’m not really a city girl!) that had married her much-loved grandson.  But a time came when I no longer feared Granny, I loved her.  Really loved her.  I found myself hugging her tiny frame and kissing her forehead and telling her I loved her.  Somewhere in the sporadic visits I kinda think she found she really loved me, too.

Granny has lots of grandkids and greats, as well.  All of those who were able gathered into her tiny, worn little home yesterday.  The home where she raised five boys.  A home full of memories and marriage and hard, hard work.  Stories and laughter abound when this group gets together.  The living brothers (two passed away too early in life)  like to rag on each other and repeat the same stories we’ve heard over and over.  But we still love to hear them, still laugh and imagine youth and fearlessness stopped cold in the big presence of this little woman.

As I read about this storm in Luke, I thought more about how Jesus asked them, Why can’t you trust me?  I’ve often wondered about the times when Jesus questioned His disciples and their lack of faith.  Most of the time I think what was their problem?!  Smile.  This morning I find a fresh seed of truth unearthed in my heart.

You know why the disciples didn’t trust Jesus?  Why they were in a panic when the storm came?  Because even though Jesus was sleeping in the same boat, they didn’t really know who He was.  How do I know?

They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, “Who is this, anyway?”

They were blown away when Jesus calmed the winds and waves with His words.  They did not yet realize He was God.  I’m not sure who they thought Jesus was at this point, but I can say they didn’t know the Man in the boat with them.  And since they didn’t know Him, they could not trust Him in the middle of the storm.

Here’s the catch for me, though.  And perhaps why I thought of Granny this morning.  How do we get to know Jesus in such a way that we trust Him in the storm?  Well, in a seemingly tragic (but not really) turn of events, we get to know Jesus and really see who He is… in the storm.

I know.  I thought it was Sunday School, too.  Potlucks and women’s Bible study.  Marriage retreats and Sunday morning note-taking.  Oh and especially the books.  I like ’em, I read ’em!  Yet in all of this very worthwhile and helpful stuff we can not grow the same kind of trust that comes when we live sea-sick in a near capsized boat with Jesus.

We don’t really know who He is until we experience, for ourselves, the power of His presence in our storm.

I could not understand the power of His presence, His nearness in a storm, until I myself was white-knuckled, holding on for dear life and in a near panic.  As long as Jesus was the guy from Bible study and the notes I never go back and read, I couldn’t really trust Him.  I could say I did because all good Christians say they trust Christ.  But it was not until the terrific storms came crashing in, until the waters of impossible need were pouring in that I witnessed the flannel-graph Jesus from childhood take on a new reality in my life.

The Son.  Creator.  Power.  Compassion.  Soothing Nearness.  Strength.  Never-be-the-same.  My Friend.  Protector.  Provider.  More-than-Enough.  More than I imagined.

Granny’s body slowly gave out over the past year.  It was hard on her and hard on her family.  Do I think God sends storms?  Not really.  I think we are going to run into them and so He just decides to go with us.  Magnificent, really.  Amazing.  So, as Granny’s health declined, as yet another storm emptied itself into her boat, I believe she caught a clearer image of the Master.  I believe she clung to Him in a new way.  In this, her last storm, I believe Granny learned to trust a bit more than before.

Nobody wants the storm.  We want to know Jesus and believe we trust Him while everything stays perfectly tranquil.  We want to see the miraculous and feel the goose bumps.  But we sure as heck don’t want to get into a boat headed for a storm.

I don’t like storms, either.  And I don’t think God is asking us to like them!  But because of past storms, I can learn to check in when the sky begins to darken…Oh, Jesus is sleeping.  He’s still here in my storm.  The winds are howling and the waves are crashing but He’s still in the boat with me.  The storm conditions may rage about but the Maker of the winds and waters has yet to be thrown overboard.

I love you, Granny.  And I love that you are with Jesus now.  I will think about you on cloudy days and remember the little spit-fire woman who stayed in her boat through many a storm.  When I think of you I will think of God’s grace and a Savior who stays in our boat with us no matter what.  I will remember the way you would watch the girls when we came to visit, drinking in the sight of Shannon and his daughters.  Your life was layered with stories untold.  And yet in the quiet I hear a story of His grace.

 

 

 

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