November 21, 2017 • Life for Leaders
But the wicked are like the tossing sea,
which cannot rest,
whose waves cast up mire and mud.
Do you ever feel like the “tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud”? I do, though I wish it weren’t true. I’ve been a Christian for over fifty years. In that time, I’ve experienced God’s peace time and again. I remember well how, in times of worry, God has calmed my soul. Yet there are still times, far too many, when I feel like the restless sea. Late at night, I can’t sleep as my mind “casts up mire and mud.” Anxiety can be my unwelcome but familiar companion, along with fear and doubt.
In these times of agitation, I have not rejected God in any intentional or lasting way. But, in a sense, I have rejected him. I’ve turned my back on his promises. I’ve closed my heart to his Spirit. I’ve decided to rely upon myself and my ingenuity rather than upon the only one who is truly and fully reliable. I’ve chosen to do that which I know to be sin. It’s no wonder that when I back away from God, I lose touch with his peace.
Yet God, in his mercy, doesn’t leave me in my restlessness. He finds ways to remind me of his presence. When I turn to him in desperation, he meets me… sometimes in that very moment, sometimes later. I realize that my life is never what it ought to be except when I rely fully on the Lord. As St. Augustine wrote in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When do you feel like the restless sea?
What helps you to experience God’s peace, especially in tumultuous times?
Do you need God’s gift of peace right now? If so, will you ask him for it?
Gracious God, you know how easy it is for me to feel like the restless sea. In times of uncertainty, my heart can cast up mire and mud… the mire of doubt, the mud of sin. Forgive me, gracious Lord, for all the times I fail to trust you.
May I never reject you, Lord, even in small ways. Help me, by your Spirit, to trust you each and every day, to walk with you, to put my life in your strong and capable hands. May my heart find rest in you, so that I might live each day boldly, free from worry and doubt. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Christ the Preacher of Peace
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Thanks for these devotionals, Mark. I appreciate the time and thought you put into each one. In reading the second paragraph of today’s insight, I was reminded of the words of Henri Nouwen—–“I leave home every time I lose faith in the voice that calls me the Beloved and follow the voices that offer a great variety of ways to win the love I so much desire. I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Why do I keep ignoring the place of true love and persist in looking for it elsewhere? Why do I keep leaving home where I am called a child of God, the Beloved of my Father? I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking the gifts God has given me — my health, my intellectual and emotional gifts — and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, and compete for rewards, instead of developing them for the glory of God. Yes, I often carry them off to a ‘distant country’ and put them in the service of an exploiting world that does not know their true value. It’s almost as if I want to prove to myself and to my world that I do not need God’s love, that I can make a life on my own, that I want to be fully independent.”
–Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son
Thanks again for a good word this morning.
Jonathan, thanks for sharing that marvelous passage from Nouwen’s book. I needed that today! Blessings to you!
Thank you, Jonathan, for this powerful quote. It’s both convicting and encouraging.