More bad news. Killings in El Paso. Shootings in Ohio. All this on the heels of a violent weekend last week. All this violence adding up to too many mass shootings in just 216 days. Is our society coming unraveled? How are we to respond to this dark season of bloodshed?
Anger is the choice of many. Anger at politicians. Anger at the NRA. Anger at God. We become bitter and sour toward this world; toward one another. Fear is another option. Lock the doors and close the windows. Avoid every shadow and dark alley.
Yet, do we want to be a nation of fear and anger? But what can we do? The best known storm-story in the Bible provides some direction.
“When evening came, [Jesus’] disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough (John 6:16-18).
The hearts of the followers began to sink as their boat was certain to do. Their skin was soaked, throats hoarse, eyes, wide. They searched the sky for a break in the clouds. They gripped the boat for fear of the waves. They screamed their prayers for help. But they heard nothing.
But then the unimaginable happened. “They saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But He said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid’” (John 6:19- 20).
The literal translation of what Jesus said is “I AM; don’t be afraid.” I AM is God’s name. If God had a calling card, it would contain this imprint: I AM. Ever since Moses saw the burning bush that refused to burn up, God has called himself, “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). This is the title of steadiness and power. When we wonder if God is coming, he answers with his name: “I AM!” When we wonder if he is able, he declares, “I AM.” When we see nothing but darkness, feel nothing but doubt, and wonder if God is near or aware, the welcome answer from Jesus is this: “I AM!”
Let’s pause and invite God to tell us his name. Our greatest need is his presence. Yes, we want this storm to pass. Yes, we want the winds to still. But yes, yes, yes, we want to know, need to know, and must know that the great I AM is coming.
Such was the experience of the disciples. The moment they invited Christ into their boat was the moment they reached their destination. “So they gladly took him aboard, and at once the boat reached the shore they were making for” (John 6:21).
Let’s follow the example of the disciples. Welcome Jesus into the midst of this turbulent time.
Don’t let the storm turn you inward. Let it turn you upward.
Listen and see if you don’t hear him say: I AM with you in the storm.