Fatherhood & Storms

If you have ever had a baby you know the exact moment I am about to describe. The moment when your expectations have a massive, violent collision with reality. My expectations when I woke up that morning were that everything would go great. That my two month old baby boy would be happy and smiley like all those cute babies I see on Instagram. But the reality I had come face to face with was one of emotional chaos, despair and frustration.

My wife is an incredible mother. She seems to be able to meet my son’s needs even before he thinks he needs it. On this particular day, only a few weeks after our son was born, my wife declared she needed “mommy time” and she would be back in 45 minutes. I was beyond excited about my chance to prove my mettle as a dad. Father-Son time. One-on-one. We got this! I was already preparing my “Dad of the Year” acceptance speech in my head.

The first ten minutes of this Dadapalooza was going great. I made funny faces – he smiled. I dance around the room – he giggled. He had a dirty diaper – I changed it with the same grace and coordination as Emeril Lagasse making the perfect chicken cordon bleu. It was just about time to change my initials to PTP (Prime Time Player!) until suddenly and without warning, my son lost his ever-loving mind.

Sure, no problem. I can handle this. But my funny faces suddenly weren’t funny. My dancing around the room only seemed to make things worse. And for the hundredth time, no he isn’t dirty. That’s when I felt it. Those little beads of sweat begin to form on my forehead. Like a far-off title wave, I could sense the panic heading towards me, attempting to wash me out to a sea of frustration.

The bouncy chair. Yes, that’s it. That is what will save this day. So I scrambled to the nursery and drug elephant-adorned life raft into the living room. I tossed him in, turned on the vibration and the swinging motion then stepped back to watch the miracle of calm begin. Only it didn’t. Instead his screams seemed to grow louder. With only moments to spare before I became the next dad stranded on the deserted island of futility, I texted mommy. The ultimate “break glass in case of emergency” move. But it had to be done.

Cool, calm, steady – the voice on the other end of the line simply said, “it’s time for his bottle, that’s why he’s fussy.” Without saying goodbye I dashed to the fridge and started mixing up that beautiful milk cocktail that would meet his every need. Just moments after he started guzzling down the white gold, the tears dried up and the crying stopped. The beast, was tamed.

As I sat at the kitchen table eating my lunch alone, in silence, starring out the window like a shell-shocked war survivor, I thought about how similar this experience must be to the one my Heavenly Father has with me. No, I’m not suggesting God scrambles around heaven trying to make silly faces looking for my spiritual bouncy chair. But two theological truths stick out from this story that Christians must remember on a weekly basis: God will never panic and God always knows what you need.

In Mark 4 the disciples find themselves on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. What they experienced was not that different from what I described: their expectations had a massive collision with reality as they were sure their boat would sink in the storm. To make matters even more intense, this guy they had left their jobs and families to follow – baptized by John as the Son of God – was asleep below deck! Mark 4:37-38  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?  In this moment of emotional chaos and physical despair the disciples failed to remember the promises of Jesus. We as Christ-followers are taught throughout the New Testament that we will face trials (James 1:2) and we will have challenges (John 15:20). As we experience these trials and challenges our only source of strength to overcome them is the power of God. Our hearts are healed and empowered as we cling to the promises of God. Promises like Psalm 46 and Psalm 138. Rather than looking to the winds and the waves. Rather than listening to the voice of Satan declaring your doom. Look to the promises of God found throughout all of Scripture and draw strength to preserve and overcome.

In the midst of the storms we must also remember the presence of Jesus. Christianity is not a cold religion with a distant god. Please never forget you do not have to earn God’s favor or achieve a specific spiritual status to receive His presence. He has promised He will always be with us (Matthew 28:20). These kinds of promises are not only reserved for mission trips deep into the valleys and jungles. This kind of promise is for you in the midst of every storm you face in life. The disciples experienced this kind of presence in verse 39: And He woke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be Still!” Jesus did not wake up and immediately accuse the disciples. He did not wake up, point His finger in their chest and say “well if you had watched where you were going we wouldn’t be in this storm” or “if you went to church more often and gave more money to the offering bad things wouldn’t happen to you.” No. Jesus immediately springs into action with His presence in the life of the disciples. Even when you don’t feel it or barely believe it, Jesus is always with you and is always only a whisper away.

So whether you are fighting for your life battling cancer or fighting your sin-nature not to scream at a fussy toddler, it is in those moments we must remember the power of Jesus. With only a word He calmed the winds and the waves. With the touch of a hand (Mark 1:41) He heals or with a prayer and loud voice He raises the dead to life (John 11:43). This power of Jesus is not limited to biblical experiences 2,000 years ago. Jesus’s love for you is as powerful and active as it has ever been. Don’t live your life like Samson in Judges 16 who tried to do everything in his own power for his own glory. In the midst of life-shattering storms trust in the power of Jesus.

Jesus is never asleep in your life. In the exact same way it only took one phone call to my wife, your Heavenly Father hears your every prayer. In fact, the Bible teaches in Matthew 6:8 …your Father knows what you need even before you ask Him. God has infinite wisdom and knows you intimately. He created you and is present with you. The perfect combination for knowing exactly what you need in the eye of the storm and providing it for you. May we all remember daily the promises, presence and power of Jesus.