18 February, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Calm – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Be calm and carry on! It’s plastered all over Britain. We’ve been thinking of being patient, and for some of us patient and calm do not go hand in hand. I have a terrible habit of shaking my leg when I’m trying to be patient. I can fold my hands, try to smooth out the furrows in my face (some of them are permanent), and try to look like all is at peace. But my leg is a dead give-away. I’m not calm. I’m not interested in being calm and carrying on; I just want to carry on. And yet, truly patient people are calm despite the delay or the wait. They not only control the outer body language, but also inside their minds is at rest, their heart rate is normal, their stomach is at peace.
There’s a story in our gospels of Jesus going out in a boat with his disciples and a horrific hale blows in. The disciples, seasoned veterans of the sea, are terrified and fear for their lives. The story cuts to Jesus and he is absolutely calm. So much so that he is sleeping in the bottom of the boat. The disciples wake him in a bit of a huff and Jesus promptly shares his calm with all of nature as he passes the peace to the wind and the waves. There is no description of Jesus that doesn’t describe him as being calm, with maybe the one exception of the temple-cleansing scene. Even then, I think there would have been a eerie sense of calm in his voice as he rebuked them. Admittedly, I’m not sure how you kick over tables and flick a whip with calmness. Other than that moment, it seems to be a calm Jesus in the crowd, at the party, or walking along the road. Even when he is in front of his accusers at the trial, the biblical metaphor to describe his demeanor is one of a sheep before his shearers. I don’t know much about sheep, but I’m told the sheep often provides very little resistance to the person shaving off its wool. Jesus was calm despite the pending doom, the questions, and the hostility. There was no panic in his words, no hurry in his steps, no anxiety in his actions.
It’s hard to be calm when there is so much to be achieved in life. We have so many things that we want to do and finish. How do you find calm in the midst of our driven world? Maybe we can do what the disciples did in the boat. Go to Jesus and ask for his help. Point out to him whatever might be causing you distress today. Beware of the fact that he may not command the wind and the waves around you; he may just speak to you. Listen for his voice saying, “be still and know that I am God.” Take a deep breath, pray, and then hopefully you can carry on being calm.