Jesus Is Not In A Panic But We Often Are

I thought 2017 was a tough year for me and many of the people I work with but 2018 has already been marked by one report of bad news after another. I have that same sinking, weak, and impotent feeling I had last summer when my Dad died. My knees seem to constantly be in a state of weakness.

Thankfully, God provides messages and resources in my weakness. For my time with God, I like to read the meditations put together by Jan Johnson in her book, Meeting God in Scripture. In part five of the book, the theme is “Facing fears, frustrations, and discouragement.” The first passage that she walks the reader through is Mark 4:35-41, the time when Jesus is taking a nap on a boat while a huge storm erupts and has the Disciples fighting for their lives. Johnson pointed the reader to a Rembrandt painting of this scene.

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Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

I found it so interesting to observe the disciples and all of their different responses (including the one heaving off the side of the boat) and then to ask myself which disciple most resembles the reaction that I would have.

At first glance, I identified with the lone disciple at the back of the boat straining at the rudder, trying to keep the boat on a steady path. He is all strain and little progress. Rembrandt seems to really like the dark and so it is hard to see that there is one disciple who is kneeling before Jesus, perhaps begging for him to do something, or crying out for mercy. Some scholars think this is Rembrandt himself, placing himself in the painting. Where are you in the painting and this scene?

Take a few moments and read the passage and then observe the painting. Which disciple are you in your current situation? What response do you wish you had in light of how the scene plays out? Will you ever be able to just calmly sit next to Jesus during your stormy seasons? How will faith help remove the fear in your life?

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Why We Are Partners With God and Not Puppets

“God wants partners not puppets.”

Jan Johnson, one of our master teachers at the Apprentice Experience, made this statement in a talk on God’s love during Gathering 1.

There is nothing about a puppet that is independent or free from the one who controls it. Puppets can’t move, talk, or participate in a story without someone directing their every move and choice. God doesn’t want puppets, he wants partners.

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Partners have similar values and work toward a shared goal. Partners bring their own unique set of gifts and skills to the partnership to make it better. Partners operate in tandem with a mutual understanding of what is needed from each person. Partners provide feedback to one another and communicate effectively.

Scripture tells us that we are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. We are loved because of who we are, not in spite of it. God wouldn’t love a puppet in the same way because the relationship is only one way. Our relationship with God is interactive.

Julian of Norwich says that God “wishes to be seen, and he wishes to be sought, and he wishes to be expected, and he wishes to be trusted.”

God is calling out to you for a divine partnership. Won’t you seek him and join him and trust him for whatever that partnership leads to.

photo credit: pexels.com