“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”*
At what point did I stop seeking? Asking? Knocking? At what point did I decide I needed to ride out the storm instead of cry out to the one who cares?
Last weekend, my 2-year-old daughter locked herself inside her bedroom. I had heard stories of this happening to other moms, confident this tragedy would never happen to me. I know how to open a locked door. My bobby pin skills are strong.
Only this time it didn’t work. The lock was jammed. The screaming half-breaths peppered with “mo-m-m-my” were enough to rip my heart out. But I made a decision not to join in the panic.
I resolved to stay calm for my daughter’s sake. To stay strong even when I wanted to crumble with empathy. This was the time she needed to know she was safe. Having a meltdown on both sides of the locked door would have leveled-up this experience from scary to traumatic for everyone.
It was probably less than 20 minutes. My husband worked at the doorknob. My neighbor, like a heavenly warrior disguised in her Saturday morning sweatpants, brought over a “key” thingy and words of courage. My fingers stayed pried beneath the crack of the door as a small effort of being present with my girl.
Finally, the doorknob clicked. Out rushed a sweaty, exhausted heap of tears, pink pajamas, and swirly blonde hair, into my arms for immediate calm. We snuggled on the couch, just quiet, together.
At last, I uttered a half-hearted, “Thank you, Lord,” and it hit me: I didn’t even think about praying. Through that whole fiasco, I didn’t cry out to God for help, or comfort, or peace, or wisdom.
Of course, He was with me, but I didn’t notice. His presence is more than a couple fingers under my emotionally closed-off door, but I didn’t care to reach for them. My resolve was to endure the storm.
Looking back, I have been this way for a few months now. Just get through it, I tell myself. Get through the packing, get through selling our house, get through the potty-training, get through winter, get through the tantrum years. Focus on surviving the storms.
Mark 4 tells the story of another storm:
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:37-41)
How long did the waves beat that little boat down before the disciples cried out to Jesus. I imagine their thinking “we can handle this on our own,” while Jesus rested, waited, unfazed by the storm. I can see their white-knuckles, gripping the boat, riding it out.
After all, logic tells us the storm will cease…
Locked doors will get open…
Stubborn toddlers will get potty-trained…
Bosses will reward hard work…
A friend will come along…
Unfortunately, this expectation of eventually keeps us stuck in the determination to endure. Get through one more week, one more hour. It will all be fine in the end.
Or it won’t, but then at least it will be over.
What if we, like the disciples, grab a lightbulb moment of SYMOTA and remember that Jesus is Immanuel: God with us.
Not only was Jesus present through the storm with the disciples, he also had the power to calm it. More importantly, as our pastor reminded us last Sunday, Jesus cared about the disciples.
Without a doubt, Jesus always provides, even when we ignore his presence. And clearly, endurance has its place in the Christ-followers journey. However, these truths cannot substitute the beauty of embracing the presence of Jesus.
He is with us and he cares.
This relationship with Jesus is so simple on our end: seek! And Jesus meets us with His beautiful, fulfilling, awe-inspiring presence.
At last, color is returning to my knuckles as I release the grip on survival and cling to Life Himself.