Be Still My Soul

I just received a beautiful email from a friend. It read much more like a hand written letter and I’m tempted to copy and paste it into a document and print it on paper.

Besides sharing her struggles and joys, she ends her letter with a very simple statement which left me stunned for a moment while salty liquid rushed into my eyes.

“I pray for you, Peggy, that your faith would not fail.”

I sat up late last night trying to write a different blog post and then trying to write something for just myself to make sense of life right now. One metaphor that seemed fitting was that of being out in choppy water on a small pontoon. Just as I think I’m grasping what it means to be still inside, the scenery changes and I’m sliding toward a metal railing with pinwheel arms. Three things I forgot to do and seven things that need to be done right now, and several questions I’m not completely sure how to answer slam into me at the opposite end of the boat….

Life is actually quite good these days. My emotional response to my friend’s words was not based on despair that my faith will fail. What I do see is how completely inadequate I am to successfully carry out the incredible work I’ve been given. My favorite quote has always been something said by Winston Churchill, “Success is going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.”
The last few years I’ve been discovering that success is not just about perseverance, but it’s also about surrender. Surrendering my focus on what other’s think of me, surrendering my need for specific results, surrendering the illusion of control.

Even now in class we’re going through the Gospel of Mark. Scott is teaching and leading a discussion on Chapter 4:35-41 which talks about a time when Jesus and the disciples are out in a boat in a storm. Jesus is taking a nap and the disciples are afraid, but when they wake him, he simply speaks to the wind and all becomes calm. He looks around at his friends and asks, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

And this is why my friend’s prayer reached right into me. I’m extremely grateful to have a job that is too big for me because I do believe that all of the results are in God’s hands. Like the disciples I am often confused, I often miss the point…. but Jesus? He’s in the boat with me. He will never fail and with only a word He can calm the storm without or within me.

I dislike that this calming the storm idea has been turned into a lot of cheesy songs and inspirational paintings because the reality is so much more powerful than a quote on “Christian” poster. The only God who created all things with the words of his mouth is present with us in those moments when  fear fills up our skin, and when worry sits between our shoulder blades. A storm is not just a metaphor for a bad hair day, but depicts real and hard things that come without warning and threaten to unmake us.

I’m so blessed by this brief prayer and it rings soundly within me for you, too. I pray that your faith would not fail. When you falter, may you have eyes to see that he who upholds the world by the word of his power sits very near to you in the boat.

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