Peace by Piece
Mark 4:35-41, Jesus calms the storm
"...They wake Jesus up with their fear and he doesn’t say “there’s nothing to be afraid of” even though he isn’t afraid at all. He says “why are you afraid?” Because Jesus knows that we can’t work on our fear until we start talking about it. Some wise person once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Some wise person, because when I looked this quote up online I found it attributed to at least five different people. When we encounter something so true, we want to spread it around. Courage is not the absence of fear, but realizing that other things are more important than our fear.
Racial hatred and murder in South Carolina offer us all a chance to consider what is more important than our fear. For many loved ones of the people who have been murdered, it is forgiveness, so that their futures won’t be infected by hatred. For many people of color it is creative resistance, as they seek a world in which they are safe to walk home from the grocery or gather for Bible study and prayer. For us who are white, it is confessing our privilege, releasing our self-righteous sense that we earned what we have, letting go of the lies that have told us we’re better, giving up our desire to stereotype and judge people. We have opportunity in this tragedy, an opportunity for courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but realizing that forgiveness, creative resistance and confession are more important than any fear....
...At midnight, as the clock turned to Father’s Day, I was in the operating room with two tearful, terrified parents as their 37-year-old son breathed his last. He’d been in a construction accident, and for two weeks they waited at his bedside, navigated the intimidating hospital, and prayed for a miracle.
Finally they accepted what the staff had been patiently, sadly saying: Shane would not wake up. The family gave permission for organ donation. With the best love they could summon, they’d been his parole board, sentencing him to both execution and release.
They’d been at his side for those two weeks, but I took them to the OR waiting room while the staff prepped Shane for surgery.
In the OR, nurses removed the ventilator that was breathing for him, and a surgeon waited quietly in the corner. Once Shane was discreetly tucked under blue paper, I brought the family in, and they held his hand and stroked his head for 25 minutes until his heart and lungs fell silent.
I kindly rushed his family out the door so the doctors could take his organs to share with six sick people. Six families were performing their own bedside vigils in hospitals around the region, and their nights would end with the miracle Shane’s parents had earnestly prayed for.
“We couldn’t have lost more that night, and we couldn’t have gained more, either,” Shane’s mother told me months later when we reconnected. Shane’s family had been blessed by letters from the man who now carries his heart, who had gone fishing with his own family for the first time in years....
...We often think of fathers as powerful through their strength, their control, their skills, their wisdom. We rarely see a father’s power in his letting go. Shane’s father spent father’s day saying goodbye to his son, letting him die, letting him go. God prepared Shane’s father for this. God’s own son died and brought life to others, just like Shane. God let him go, weeping just as Shane’s father wept.
Power can be telling the storm to hush. Jesus got in the boat “just as he was” without titles or badges or tools. Doctors are the powerful in a hospital – none as powerful as surgeons. People say surgeons have a “god- complex” and it’s no wonder – these surgeons carved life from Shane’s death. That is God-like. Power in hospital comes with titles and badges and tools. But Jesus gets in the boat “just as he is.” And Shane is naked under that sterile paper. But he saved six lives. And his parents are the ones who gave his life so that others would live. Their worst father’s day imaginable became the best father’s day imaginable for six other families.
The most important power in that OR is not in the doctors (though we appreciate and admire them). The deepest power is the Christ power – of resurrection, of self-sacrifice, an outpouring of selfless love. On the stormy sea of Galilee Jesus’ power quells the storm. But the power we honor most deeply in him is his outrageous, extravagant love for us. Peace, be still."
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