‘Living with Uncertainty’ Meditations: 2. The Storms of Life (1)
Mt 8:25,26 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Recap: In the first study I suggested that contrary to much popular preaching, the Christian life is often a life of uncertainty. Yes, the life of the non-believer is even more uncertain but the honest reality is that the life ‘walking with Jesus’ is also often uncertain and the only way we can cope with it is to realize there is a greater certainty underpinning it.
The Aslan Analogy: I think the only way I can explain what I mean is by referring to C.S.Lewis’s children’s book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. If you have read it (and if you haven’t, why not?) you may remember Aslan the lion, representing Jesus, is killed by the Witch, because one of the children had sinned and the Deep Magic of Narnia demanded punishment, but then he comes back from the dead. He explains to the two girls who had been watching from afar, “though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” That was Lewis’s way of saying in a children’s story that Jesus’ death had been agreed within the Godhead before the foundation of the world, a testimony found seven times in the New Testament.
The Fallen World: We refer to this word as ‘fallen’ because of the rejection of God by mankind, initially by Adam and Eve, but subsequently by each of us, what has become almost a ‘natural’, inborn propensity to self-centred godlessness, the fruit of free-will. Because of this, forces are unleashed that we won’t understand until we see God face to face, forces that mean the world no longer works like it did originally when God first made it. The greatest mystery is that God allowed us to have free-will, knowing what the consequences would be, knowing what Jesus would have to do to reconcile us to Him. And yet in His love for us He did. Now the wonder is that we have to offer up this free will to Him to receive the wonders that He has for us in a relationship with Him, earned by Jesus on the Cross, and worked out by the indwelling Holy Spirit. This ‘certainty’ is what holds you and me as we encounter the ‘uncertainties’ of this current fallen world, which is what I hope we will see more and more in the days ahead of us.
The Dark World: But for the disciples who we find in the early chapters of the Gospels, this is all yet to come, they are staggering around in a world of dark uncertainty. The apostle John in his Gospel refers to this darkness and Jesus coming as a light into it: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it,” (Jn 1:5) and later, “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil,” (Jn 3:19) and later records Jesus saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life,” (Jn 8:12) and, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (Jn 12:46) Thus as we watch the disciples in the Gospels, we see men and women floundering in darkness while the Light walks with them, illuminating them and the world around them. One day when the Spirit comes on the Day of Pentecost the light will be within them but for the moment ‘uncertainty’ is the name of the game! Darkness restricts vision, restricts sight, and thus limits understanding and exists in uncertainty.
Today when you and I listen to the world, we need to realize we are listening to darkness and we need to turn back from the world and face Him, and let His light shine upon us and His light within us blaze forth to dispel doubt, dispel uncertainty, for we are now vessels of light, made to receive it, hold it, give it out. Life and our daily circumstances sometimes seem to create uncertainty within us at which point we must turn back to the ‘deep certainty’ we referred to above.
Watch the Disciples: As we observe the disciples with Jesus in the Gospels we should learn these things. Our starter verses take us back to a time when they were together in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and a furious storm blew up threatening to swamp the boat and drown them. Some of them are fishermen and they know this lake and they know the threat – but Jesus is sleeping. Their future suddenly seems uncertain and, even worse, they are uncertain about Jesus. They have seen him do wonderful things already and perhaps deep down they feel he can do something about this, but that doesn’t stop them panicking. They wake Jesus, he rebukes the storm and peace comes. He is the certainty in the midst of their uncertainty, he is God, he is the one with all power that even stills storms, but they have yet to learn that, and so until they do, they will remain uncertain.
And Us? So here we are in an uncertain world with viruses threatening and who knows what else ‘going wrong’, and the more we let our minds dwell on these uncertainties the more they pull us down. We may feel we are in the midst of a growing storm, or even that we’ve been in one for some time, and storms are definitely bringers of uncertainty, and so the call from heaven is, “Look who’s in the boat with you!” As we wait on him, realise his presence, the uncertainty fades into the background as the light before us fills our vision and certainty establishes peace. How he will get us to shore is his business; ours is to trust him to do that. Amen? Amen! We will see more about ‘storms’ in the days to come but this is sufficient for now. Rejoice again that he is with us in it, whatever comes! Hallelujah!