Questions for a New Year

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I am convinced that we generally have more choices than we are aware of but often fewer than we wish. Last year was a strange year, and for some it was downright awful. Bouncing emotionally between killings between the police and rioters, to the Cubs winning the world series, to political upsets in the elections… There have been protests that ended in celebrations and protests that ended in tears. I saw an article that said for the first time Heroin killed more people than guns last year. It has been a crazy year for our nation – the kind of a year leaves my head and heart just spinning.

Rather than start the year off in a frenzy, I want to slow things down just a bit. Even if the world charges madly around me, I can at least find a way to settle myself. Do you remember what Jesus did in the storms? He slept. His faith in His Father was so secure that when others around Him thought they would all die, He was able to take a nap (Mark 4:35-41). When Jesus awoke, He calmed the storm with a two commands, “Silence” and “Be still”, and then He turned to His disciples with two questions.

“Why are you so afraid?” He asked. “Do you still have no faith?”

Jesus knew that storms happen on the inside as well as the outside. While the sky may have been clear, things were still cloudy in the hearts and minds of the disciples. He also knew that the storms on the inside are not settled by commands, but by questions. Why is this? I think it may be because God created us with the freedom to choose whether to follow Him or not, because He wanted us to work with Him in caring for our world (See Genesis 1-3). God doesn’t want to have to command us to follow Him. Instead He asks us and lets us decide for ourselves.

So let us begin this new year by dealing with the storms of 2016. Let us answer for ourselves the questions Jesus poses to us. Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? Remember, Jesus is right there in the boat with you. Once God’s questions calm us down, we are able to ask our own questions and see more clearly the choices we have ahead of us. It allows us to act with purpose rather than simply react to the chaos or bullying around us. I don’t want to be pushed into doing something I will regret. I want every action I make to be someething I can look back upon and say, “I did my best.” I want my deeds to be inspired by love and generosity, not fear and defensiveness. I want to live by faith, not by fright.

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