By Krissa Rumsey
On Sunday, Pastor Dan spoke about fear. Although I feel fortunate that I have not encountered many situations where I felt my life was in danger, I do recall one. Years ago, in my early twenties, my friend Tina and I took a canoe trip on the Fox River in Illinois.
We were both teaching high school near Chicago at the time and decided to celebrate the end of the school year by spending the weekend at a spectacular Illinois state park.
On our first afternoon, we had planned a three-hour canoe trip. A van hauled us and our canoe up the river, dropped us off, and away we paddled. To my amazement, much of what bordered the river were cliff-like limestone rock formations. The landscape was unlike any midwestern state park I had visited.
Not long into our trip, it began to rain …. really hard. The wind blew and we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of thunder and lightning. I was not a science teacher, but I knew that a metal canoe and bolts of lightning don’t mix.
Because the river was ensconced in limestone walls and rocky terrain, there were no beaches nor embankments where we could pull over to wait out the storm. All we could do was paddle as fast as our bodies would allow. With unwavering focus, Tina and I paddled. We didn’t speak.
Not long into our trip, it began to rain …. really hard.
We didn’t dare breathe. I lifted my fear up in prayer at a fever pitch, “Please deliver us from this, Lord.” We stared straight ahead and paddled so furiously that what was typically a three-hour trip took us one hour.
Sunday’s text depicted the fear that Peter, James, and John experienced at the marvelous transfiguration of their friend, Jesus. It wasn’t the first time that they had been overcome by fear despite being in the awesome presence of the Lord. Pastor Dan reminded us of their memorable trip across the Sea of Galilee, at which time a fearsome storm brewed while their beloved Jesus slept.
Upon being awakened, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Pastor Dan’s point was that Jesus was in the very same storm, calmly sleeping. And although the disciples may have felt as though he was unaware of what was happening, Jesus was in complete command of the situation.
I find this extremely comforting. As frightening as that literal storm on the river was for me, there have been moments in my everyday life that, metaphorically speaking, seemed almost as treacherous.
Jesus was in complete command of the situation.
There have been episodes when the present reality seemed inescapable and all I could do was pray for safe passage to a more peaceful—or, even just more mundane—place. When I am in those dark, stormy places—be they literal or figurative—I tend to look ahead to the place where I know the Lord will be waiting for me.
Pastor’s sermon reminded me that we don’t need to wait for the storm to subside before we find God because He is where we are. He is not at the end of the tunnel, appearing as a distant light that we will eventually reach after holding our breaths hoping the darkness will not overcome us first. He is in the tunnel.
— Miriam Rossow (@MiriamRossow) March 2, 2014
I clearly remember one dark place in my adult life when I felt overwhelmed by life’s circumstances. My default was to open the Bible and just read, clinging to my Lord for whatever hope He could provide. I remember reading from Psalm 121, which spoke so clearly: “I lift my eyes up to the mountain, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord.”
We don’t need to wait for the storm to subside before we find God because He is where we are.
I palpably felt the storm calm down. I didn’t need to worry about it. He was there and I just needed to keep looking at Him. He is with us in the midst of fear and is unfazed because He is the Lord of all.