Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Trouble in River City

One of my favorite musicals is The Music Man; and one of my favorite numbers in The Music Man is You Got Trouble.  I was thinking about this today because trouble has come into my life.  I knew it was coming; I tried to circumvent it; but it remained out of my hands, and now is knocking at my door like the angel of death.  Okay, this is over dramatic and hyperbole; things could be much, much worse, and is for so many people I know.  In some respects, though, trouble in America is much like the trouble Harold Hill spoke of in River City.  The town was well fixed and peaceful, compared to other places in the world at the time, so what they saw as trouble was really only a minor annoyance.  Many things we see as trouble in America are really only what my daughter refers to as first world problems.

What disturbs me more than the pending storm is my inability to deal with it in my spirit.  I mean, how often have I encouraged us to trust Christ, and not fear because He is alive?  Now, with what is really only a minor disturbance--comparatively speaking--I am completely unsettled.  It is easy to pontificate about faith from an easy chair, in front of a warm fire, while sipping a glass of Malbec.  Only when the fire goes out and you start to feel cold, do you begin to understand how much of what you believe is only theory.  It reminds me of what the disciples of Jesus felt when a storm suddenly rose up over the lake as they were boating their way across....

And there was a sudden great squall of wind and the waves crashed into the boat so that the boat was already filled.  And Jesus was sleeping in the stern on a pillow, and the disciples woke Jesus up and said to Him, "Teacher, doesn't it matter to you that we are perishing?"  And after having been aroused, Jesus rebuked the wind and said, "Be silent, Be quiet!"  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  And Jesus said to them, "Why are you cowardly?  Do you not yet have faith?"  And they were filled with great fear and spoke to each other, "Who, then, is this, that both the wind and the sea obey Him?" [Mark 4:37-41]

It all goes to show that ideas and doctrines do not hold us up, only the real presence of Jesus in our life does.  And we only come to really understand faith when we are forced to walk in it.  This reminds me of a story my physics professor once related to us.  He told how he had invited his girlfriend to go sailing with him.  She asked him if he had ever sailed before, and he told her he knew everything there is to know about the theory of sailing--and he did.  Well, after several hours of floundering on the water, and finally walking the boat along the shoreline, his girlfriend told him in no uncertain terms they were through.  I think she called him an idiot, but it was a long time ago, so I might be wrong about that.

Thank the Lord he isn't fickle like my professor's girlfriend.  The Lord didn't give up on His disciples because of their tentative faith; He hasn't given up on me because of my cowardice; and I assure you He won't give up on you, either.  He will continue to give us grace upon grace:  grace to forgive us when we stumble, grace to pick us up again, and grace to strengthen our faith for the next challenge. Such is the beauty of the Gospel of Christ; such is the wonder and peace of standing in His kingdom.

Thanks a lot, folks, for letting me unload on you like this.  I am feeling much better.  I guess this is why Jesus calls us to be a community; we cover for each other in our moments of weakness.  Thanks again for listening.