Fears, My Back Porch, and the Lesson In the Stars

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” –Og Mandino

I’m a night person because that’s when the stars come out.  I sometimes sit on my back porch in a wooden chair and stare out into the blackness, hiding from the streetlights and watching the faint twinkling of diamonds in the sky.  I like to imagine what all the other worlds must be like as they orbit these massive smatterings of light against the darkness.

It calms me;

it centers me;

it encourages me to dream.

As pleasant as they are to admire from afar, stars are actually very stormy places up close.  They are places of intense energy and violent reactions.  As elements merge, they release unimaginable energy that would be deadly if you were in the midst of it.  The worst tempests of Earth don’t even compare to the storms of the stars.  Thankfully we are far enough removed from those storms that we can see their beauty.  We have a perspective that gives us a sense of awe and enjoyment instead of fear and dread.

Which brings me to a story about Jesus and his disciples.  (Didn’t see that one coming, did you?)  In Matthew, chapter 8, there is this great account of the disciples crowded on a boat with Jesus, traveling from one place to the next.  All of a sudden a huge storm blows up, and their boat starts taking on water.  While the disciples are freaking out, Jesus is just… sleeping.  You know, getting some rest, not worried about the storm whatsoever.  Of course the disciples go wake him up, just like I would have.  Until recently it has always bothered me that Jesus seemed aggravated at the disciples for being afraid.  He sort of chided their faith, then calmed the storm for them.

The question about why Jesus seemed miffed has always stumped me.  Weren’t the disciples’ emotional reactions to literal waves sweeping over their boat pretty much on point?  I mean, if any reaction seemed strange, it was Jesus’s.  Sleeping?  Really?  But recently it hit me.

Maybe he had more confidence in the disciples’ boating abilities than they had in themselves.  He knew they could make it.  He knew they were OK.  He knew the Father had been working in them and preparing them for these storms, and he was confident enough to sleep and leave it all in their hands.  He trusted them more than they trusted themselves.  He had a perspective they did not have.  Maybe he hoped they had already learned to view storms with a wider lens.  After all, were these not the same disciples that Jesus later said would do “greater things than these” once he left?  How’s that for confidence?

So the next time you look out into the night sky, be reminded that even the interstellar fury has been tamed, and those storms turn out to be beautiful.  When life feels scary and Jesus seems to be sleeping, I hope you will know he has already given you what you need, and that you are better at handling storms than you think.  May you see yourself the way God sees you, and may you find peace even amidst your darkness.

–From Matt Thames

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2 thoughts on “Fears, My Back Porch, and the Lesson In the Stars

  1. This was the best explanation I’ve ever heard of that writing/story. Right on. Jesus knew their thoughts before they even asked Him, and He understood everything, so he had that confidence in the storm. I think we are capable of understanding to have that steadfast confidence, but it’s hard for any of us to see it in our busy world. I’ll keep searching. -AE

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