Steady in the Storm – Chapter Seven: The Fearless Pirate Captain
“I distinctly remember in this season, Jesus was cozied up in an armchair by the fire, reading a newspaper and wearing glasses. I still don’t know why Jesus needed glasses. I spent much of this season on the couch, under a blanket, resting while a snowstorm took place outside the cabin. There was a table in the cabin constantly laid with a hot and steaming turkey dinner. We never did sit down to eat. It think that was more my fault that Jesus’. One thing I’ve noticed in my prayer time with Jesus is He will often ready many things, but it’s up to me to step up and partake of them.”
The above quote is referring to my prayer life with God. Much of my prayer time is spent visualizing time with Jesus. He often speaks to me through pictures and imagery.
If you want to know why the chapter is called The Fearless Pirate Captain, well, you’ll just have to buy the book and find out!
I’ve been connecting a lot with my friend Tracy, whom I mention in my book and who introduced me to the type of visual prayer I reference above. Her and her husband Cam moved to Australia a few years back. It’s been tough having them so far away, but thankfully we can connect through the wonders of technology. Tracy and I have been spending most of our calls praying together or Tracy takes the liberty of straightening me out. She’s earned the right to do that in my life.
One thing that keeps coming up in our conversations is how God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. That in the midst of obvious despair and turmoil, God prepares a place for us to be nourished and thankful. The table is a place of gathering, a place of blessing and a place of communion. God calls us to sit, enjoy, be nourished and give thanks in the presence of our enemies.
Jesus prepares a lot for us, but it’s up to us to partake in it. When faced with your enemies are you fearful or seated at the table of blessing? This is a hard concept for me. I opt for fear every time. I’ve cultivated a nice and tidy relationship with fear throughout my whole life and it’s been a tough breakup to face. I’m slowly learning to replace my fear with thankfulness and the nourishment of gratitude. David knew how to do this well. The Psalms are full of him facing adversity, yet singing praises of thanksgiving.
When I sit down to focus on what I’m grateful for I literally have to grit my way through it. I have to unclench my jaw, tell my mind to abandon the need to fix and plan, and release the tension of the day. I have to start so basic, like being thankful for, ‘looks around the room’, that I have this room to sit in. I once again have to remind myself to not think about all that needs fixing with the room, but just to be thankful that I have somewhere warm and quiet to reflect on gratitude. The other night I was thanking God that I had somewhere nice and warm to sleep. My husband and I had watched a YouTube video on the uncontrollable homeless situation in Los Angeles. Block and blocks and blocks of tent cities. People asleep on the sidewalk. I thanked God for a warm, safe place to sleep. And then I cried about it for a good five minutes, overwhelmed with how blessed we are to know we have a safe and warm place to sleep each night.
God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. When I first heard this verse as a kid, I imagined a WWII battle field, and Jesus politely setting the table for everyone. He was putting chargers on the table, setting them with fine china, wearing a nice apron, and lighting candles. He looked a lot like my Grandma setting the table for Sunday roast. All the while, people were opening fire at each other across the field. Jesus unmoved by the noise, just focused on how to nicely fold the napkins into sailboats. Somehow I don’t think this is exactly what David was meaning.
God knows we face battles every day. He knows we face challenges every day, that life is hard and all consuming. His desire to provide us with a place of rest, a place of reprieve from all this, to nourish our souls. The table of the Lord is a place where we can come, break bread, be reminded of the gift of salvation and the grace of Jesus. It is a place where we can acknowledge the areas of blessing in our lives, a place where we can join together and be united in Christ.
This offering of a place of rest and nourishment is readied every day, but it is up to us to come and sit at the table, to come and partake of the blessing and peace offered by Christ. I’m slowly learning how to do this. I’m learning how to settle my mind, unclench my jaw, and partake in the table of Christ, to offer up my thanksgiving and receive his goodness and love.
Adversity will always reveal to us where our lack is, and lately my lack has been in my gratitude for what I have. My lack has been in not looking to God for my strength throughout this very difficult year. My lack has been in focusing on shooting my rifle across the field, instead of sitting down to partake in the peace and rest of Christ. My reward for doing this is joy, peace, a thankful heart and a happier life, regardless of the battles surrounding me.