Decades ago, my grandma painted a haunting scene in beautiful shades of grays and blues. The drama on the canvas has always fascinated me. Against a backdrop of gauzy mountains, there are three figures in a small boat, buffeted and tossed by white-capped waves. Their desperation is palpable. They’re suspended in mid-motion, no easy resolution to their problem. The monochrome is disturbing, fascinating, and a favorite of no one but me.
Somewhere inside that painting is hope and the promise of peace.
It’s become a symbol of our world. Especially recent days. Here in Dallas, the last week has been shattering. When situations in the world were disturbing and tense, our chilling events unfolded Thursday night with the calculated killings of five police officers, and the injuries of several others.
More personal still, the shooter was someone from my former neighborhood. He was a person we probably saw regularly, crossed paths with, considered a nice boy.
As an educator, that tears me up. How many students did I think were nice boys, nice girls, who will turn into unrecognizable adults? Did I do everything I could to impact young lives when I had a chance? That was my mission.
But the answer is no. Because if I’d done everything I could do to impact young lives of students, I would have taken away from my impact on the three young lives entrusted to me as a mother.
You can’t do it all.
You do the best you can.
You have to be at peace with that.
Today, as my heart hurts for my city, for the officers’ families, for the wounded who missed death by inches, for the ones who protect us, for the ones who fear they’ll be targeted for skin color or uniform color, I find solace in the words of Isaiah.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
There is hope for our mourning, peace for our despair. Jesus is our hope in these turbulent times. He is the light and purity we desperately need to find our way home amidst the chaos. We can put our faith in him.
When Jesus was in a boat with his disciples, a storm came up without warning. Waves swept over the boat. Jesus slept through it but the disciples panicked. They said, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He asked them why they were so afraid. Didn’t they have faith? Then he got up and called down the winds and the waves. The disciples were amazed at the complete calm around them. “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27)
Despite all they had seen Jesus do, the disciples still didn’t understand Jesus’ power.
Even though it’s easy to look down on the disciples for their lack of faith, I wonder at my own. I despaired Thursday night, each time the newscaster announced one more officer had died. All I could think was, God, no! Don’t let this happen!
But after so many years of watching God work in my life, I should know–this is a God who tames the wind and the waves. Nothing is too hard for Him. I might not understand when He allows things and when He chooses to intervene, but I know He can overcome anything. Even devastations past, present, or future. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33(NIV)
We can trust Jesus with our stormy waters.