God is not anxious

Published 12:36 pm Saturday, June 9, 2018

“Peace, be still.”
– Jesus, in Mark 4:39, rebuking a storm.

by Nathan Decker

I am not afraid. The Church (and specifically the United Methodist Church) in America is going through some pretty catastrophic changes. The institutions and traditional ways we have grown accustomed to being and doing in our faith may not survive the next decade. Each year, more and more churches are closing. Several churches are already packing their bags in anticipation of a change in the way we make decisions regarding human sexuality. Most churches look at their attendance, budget and bills with fear and trembling. Still, I am not afraid.

We’ve been in storms like this before. We followed Jesus out onto the water. We laughed as we fished, splashed water and listened as the Master told us stories. And when the winds of change picked up and the waves of culture and context tried to drown us — we looked and Jesus was peacefully sleeping in the back of the boat. We shook him awake in our terrified state. “Jesus, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”

Our mouths drop as we watch him. He stands up. He isn’t afraid. He looks into the storm the way a matador looks at the bull. He isn’t anxious. The wind tries to blow him over. He leans in. The waves try to make him lose his balance. He stands fast. In the midst of the storm, Jesus leads us with a heart that is at peace. Jesus knows the truth that we should memorize and trust: God is with us, we do not need to be afraid.

We’ve been in storms like this before. The Church has split and argued over language, culture, skin color, slavery, women preachers, laity being allowed to vote, interpretation of salvation, Scripture and many more issues.

Each of us empowered by the Holy Spirit listens for God in the Bible, our Faith and our experiences and tries to discern what is worth fighting for and what is worth allowing for the sake of the Church and the Gospel. If anything, the rainbows after storms should teach us that no one color is the one expression of God’s love. We have been in storms like this before, and we came out diverse and growing on the other side.

So, we do not have to be afraid. Even when our little boat gets rocked by the waves of culture’s constant changing forces and even when the wind tries to tear the sails of our soul apart: God is not anxious. Jesus still stands fast, face defiant, unafraid, rebuking the wind and the waves.  He still calms them with his words. Jesus is still whispering into our worries, doubts, fears, and terrors, “Peace, be still.”

I am not afraid. We need to not let fear win in the midst of times like these. Leaders do not put their heads in the sands and hope that it all works out. Leaders lead with hearts at peace because we know God is with us. Leaders lean into the wind, take charge of the storm, and point us toward the future where the Kingdom of God reigns. Let us lead in these times of chaos and uncertainty. Let us tell the storm, we are not afraid. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

“Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky.”
Author, Rabindranath Tagore

NATHAN DECKER is the pastor of High Street United Methodist Church. Contact him at 562-3367.