Last week I talked about my three 'Hogmanay' words: connection - power - change. Since then it has been very interesting in the last few days to see a number of 'connections' developing in our wider circle and I'd encourage you to pray for us and yourself along these lines.
In our readings from Luke's gospel this week, we came to the account of Jesus calming the storm.
There is so much in this story to excite, instruct and challenge us. Jesus' authority over the elements staggers the disciples. Not long before this, Jesus has replied to John the Baptist's questioning and points to his 'Messiahship credentials':
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.
These close companions have witnessed all of this and yet in 'fear and amazement' they ask one another, 'Who is this?' The revelation of the personhood of Jesus reaches a whole new level.
The fact that Jesus 'rebukes' the wind and raging waters is suggestive of a malign intelligence behind the storm, especially when we see the demonic challenge awaiting him on the other side of the lake. We don't interpret all hostile circumstances as spiritual opposition but neither are we to be 'ignorant of his devices'.
And then there is the issue of Jesus questioning their faith which seems perhaps a little harsh given their years of experience on these waters and the evident ferocity of the storm. And yet I remember John Wimber preaching on this passage and pointing out that Jesus had said, 'Let's go over to the other side of the lake.' Jesus had spoken, and this voyage was clearly part of his Father's purpose for that day. Did they not recognise this and trust his word?
As we read and prayed over this earlier in the week, I felt an adjustment of emphasis: Where is YOUR faith? The presence or strength of their faith is not so much the issue here as much as the focus. It's as if Jesus is saying, 'You have seen my faith. You have seen something of the bigger picture of what my Father has given me to do. You are here because I have called you to partner with me in the cause of the Kingdom. Is He going to let a storm on a lake wreck all of that? You found me asleep in the boat. I have shown you where my faith is centred - what about yours?'
'Make the connection, trust God's power and see the change.' It's not about the strength of our faith; it's about the strength of the One in whom we have faith, the One who is all-seeing, all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful and always present with us.
Today I ask myself the same question: where is YOUR faith?