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Calm in Chaos

Calm in Chaos | May 2-3, 2020
Series: Forget Not
Introduction: Kenton Beshore – 0:00-1:49
Eric Geiger – 13:55-21:16
Sermon: Eric Geiger – 26:14-1:05:11
Closing/Benediction:  Kenton Beshore – 1:11:09-1:14:51

Psalm 100, “Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to the LORD! Serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Acknowledge that the LORD is God. He made us, and we are his—his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the LORD is good, and his faithful love endures forever; his faithfulness, through all generations.”

Our sin destroyed the beauty that God created but God loves us so much, He is creating beauty in our lives. He is restoring our identity. He gives us His love and whenHe does, the Psalmist says that our natural response is to sing. It is to shout. It is to celebrate all that God has done.

That’s why we’re here today. That’s why all of these worshipers are here. That’s why we have Matt Redman with us so that we can worship. And all of us, we have a reason to worship God, don’t we? He’s been good and loving. He’s been faithful. He carries us through, even though we’re sheltering in place, we see God’s faithfulness in so many ways. What we’re going to do is we’re going to sing. We’re going to shout.

Now, I know some of you are sitting comfortably on a couch. You’re kind of slouching but you want to praise God. Our need is not to be sung to. Our need is to sing. Maybe you want to try sitting forward. Maybe some of you, even try standing up. I know it might be a little dangerous but stand up and worship with us because look at what he says. He says (Psalm 100:4-5), “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise…for the LORD is good, his faithful love endures forever.” The Lord is good, His faithful love endures forever. Worship with us.

That is so true, that everything else is sinking sand and He is the only solid rock on which we can stand. And in this crazy time, it does indeed feel like so much in our lives is being shaken but He is not shaken. He is the firm foundation in which we can run but let’s be honest, things around us are being shaken.

Just last week the OC Register reported that calls to an LA hotline concerning mental health has skyrocketed 8,000% from February to March. There were 22 calls in February and 1,800 calls in March. The implications of the stay at home order are really wreaking havoc on our mental health. ABC reported that calls to the national hotline have increased 900%.

I know that many of us are wrestling with our mental health. Anxiety, depression, struggles that we have. They are exponentially increasing in this moment as so much around us is being shaken. I want you to know if you’re experiencing that, that we are here for you and we want to pray for you. We have a number that is on the screen and we have people ready to pray with you and talk to you, if you are overwhelmed in this moment with everything going on around you and so much is being shaken.

To receive Prayer, text “Connect“ to 949-267-3131 

People are asking, “Why is it that those calls are skyrocketing? Why is it that, so quickly, mental health in many people is a struggle and mental health is deteriorating?” 

Here’s what we know that researchers and wise therapists and counselors have told us for years, exercise really helps our mental health and well, with stay at home orders, it’s harder to exercise than it was. Structure helps our mental health and structures have been ripped from us in the last several weeks. Community helps our mental health and this is a struggle for us to have community when we are isolating and staying at home. We have to fight for it. 

We have to push through and still have that Zoom call, even though we are so tired of it because we need community and so many of these predictors impact our mental health. Meaningful work is another one. Researchers for years have said when you feel safe in your job and you love your job and it’s meaningful to you that this contributes as a positive factor to your mental health and that has been impacted as unemployment has skyrocketed in the last six weeks. Therefore, we have the implication of anxiety on the rise, depression on the rise. 

Church family, I want you to know that, and if you’re new to Mariners, I want you to understand that none of us think we have this figured out, that we are a place where we can be honest with our struggles and find grace that Jesus is here for us, that he wants us to come to him with our struggle. If you have a struggle today, your church wants to pray with you, wants to care for you and so just reach out to us with that number. We’re here for you, our church loves you. Now, I want to mention one group in particular, as we are in the middle of this global pandemic and we’re going to spend a moment praying. 

Addictive behaviors, sadly, are also on a rise in the middle of this pandemic. Alcohol abuse, research is saying, has just skyrocketed in recent weeks. The number of people that are visiting pornographic sites in the middle of the work day have increased dramatically in recent weeks. For those who wrestle with an addictive behavior, a time like a global pandemic, when everything is shifting can easily run back to that addictive behavior or run more deeply into that addictive behavior to try and find some solace, to try and find some peace and some rest but we know, for those of us who have struggled we know that we never really find rest there. 

I want you to know, Church, that our faith family has a community that you can be a part of with other people who want to apply the grace of Jesus to you. Every Monday night we have groups that meet. We used to meet physically but now, we’re meeting digitally and it’s our Remedy Groups. You can click the Connect Card and just check that you want help and you’ll see a section about our Remedy Groups. 

For Information on Remedy, text “Connect” to 949-267-3131 

Now, our Remedy Groups are groups for those who are seeking recovery. Maybe it’s an addictive behavior, maybe it’s this pattern of behavior that you keep finding yourself stuck in and you so badly want to get out of it. I want to say, you cannot do this alone. You need community and our church wants to provide that community for you. And we do not think that there’s levels, like we have those in our church who figured out and then there’s those who haven’t figured out. We understand as a church that all of us are broken and all of us are in need of the grace of Jesus all the time. 

This is a safe community for you to join—where people will lovingly apply the good news of Jesus to your life. Get connected, reach out to us, fill out that Connect Card. Let us help you get into a community during this crazy time. 

Church, I want to suspend a moment and pray. Pray for those in our community that are struggling with mental health and for those that are struggling with being drawn back into addictive behaviors or escalated addictive behaviors in this time. That Jesus will be the sure and steady foundation in the midst of this craziness. Will you join me in praying? 

Father, You love us. You love us more than we can imagine. And You love each person in our church. And whatever our struggles were in the past, they feel greater now and I pray that You would sustain Your people. For those who are wrestling with anxiety and depression and an overwhelming sense of despair, I pray that You would press close to them in this moment and that You would spur them on to reach out for help. And Lord, our church wants to help them, help us help them well. I pray for those who are in an addictive pattern of behavior in this season. Lord, I pray You’d bring freedom. Where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom and we believe that You can bring freedom into their lives, even in the midst of this craziness. 

Jesus, would You please press close to them in the middle of the painful moments and bring Your healing power, bring Your liberation, do a great and gracious work in their lives. Jesus, we believe these aren’t just songs that we’re singing. We believe that You are the sure foundation to which we can run and so, Lord, call us to Yourself, pull us to Yourself in this moment. It’s in Your name I pray, Amen. 

I love that song so much, Matt. Thank you so much for being with us today. Everybody at home, let’s give Matt a hand and thank him for being with us, Matt. You can’t hear them clapping but I promise they are clapping. 

I love our friend Matt Redman and I love the powerful lyrics to that song and we are going to celebrate that what Christ did for us on the cross is ultimately what’s going to calm our souls in the midst of this craziness. 

You see a ladder, I’m going to get to it in a minute. “Why is Eric teaching with a ladder in front of him today?” Just hang with me. I’ll explain in a minute.

You have likely seen these posters, these Keep Calm posters. They’ve really been kind of like a favorite in recent years and there’s been a whole lot of variations, “Keep Calm and Carry On” is the original poster but a whole lot of different variations from this poster. 

There’s the, “Keep Calm. Oh, Who Are We Kidding”, which is kind of how we feel right now, like how can I keep calm? Who are we kidding, this is not a moment to be calm. There’s the, “Keep Calm and Act Like You Know What You’re Doing” poster, which feels very much apropos to where we are right now. Just pretend, just act like you know what you were doing in the middle of a global pandemic. 

There’s this one for teachers and I do want to say this is Teacher Appreciation Week and we’re so grateful for the teachers that are in our church. I wish that we were gathering physically this weekend because just like last year, we had a big tent planned where we were going to ask you to come and stop by and we were going to be able to say, face-to-face, how much we appreciate you. 

So, please hear us say it, digitally, today. We are so grateful for the teachers in our lives and I thought of you this week with this mug, “Keep Calm and Pretend It’s On The Lesson Plan”, which is maybe how you think right now as you’re trying to teach in this crazy environment.

Then there’s this last one, there’s a lot of them but this is one of the more funny ones, “Keep Calm and Have a Corona”. “Keep Calm and Have a Corona”. Which interestingly enough in this season, beer drinkers have been interviewed and 38% of beer drinkers say that they will not have a Corona beer in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis. There’s no way that they could have a Corona while we are in a Coronavirus pandemic.  We do realize that those are two different things, right? Evidently, 38% of beer drinkers have been drinking way too much to actually associate those together. 

We don’t like necessarily for other people to tell us to be calm. While those posters are funny and those variations are funny, we aren’t a huge fan when other people yell at us to “Keep calm! Keep calm!” In fact, the original aspect of that poster, they first came about in 1939, those posters did. They were used as propaganda in the United Kingdom to tell people to keep calm and to not be overly worried for the potential of bombings during World War II. It was 1939 and people in the United Kingdom were scared and fearful that perhaps they could be bombed. These posters are saying, “Keep calm and carry on, don’t worry.” 

Well, those posters turned out to be really shallow propaganda because there actually was reason to be concerned. In fact, the UK was indeed bombed during World War II, and so the posters of “Keep Calm” felt disconnected from reality because there really was a crisis around them. In many ways, sometimes when you were told to keep calm, it can feel divorced from reality because we are oftentimes in a crisis and I’ve learned in my marriage that one of the most offensive things that I can tell my wife is to calm down. If I say to her, “Baby …”, we’re in a fight or a heated discussion and I say, “Hey baby, just calm down.” “I AM CALM!” 

It is not necessarily the best thing to say. It can definitely push a button. None of us like to be told to calm down, at the same time, we want to be calm. We don’t like to be told to calm down yet we long for calm. 

Doug McMillon is the CEO of Walmart and in a recent interview, he shared the buying patterns that he has seen over the last six or seven weeks as we moved into this pandemic and it really shows the longing that we have for calm. 

He said, Doug McMillon did, that in the first couple of weeks of the global pandemic that people were purchasing toilet paper and non-perishable items. They were stocking up their cabinets. And then in the second wave of buying, people started buying games and crossword puzzles and watercolor paints and books, things to occupy their minds or to educate their kids. And then in the last several weeks, like week six and seven, people have started buying personal grooming products and wanting to at least give a sense that things are normal that at least we look like things are normal. 

Doug McMillon said that the buying patterns he’s seen at Walmart, these last six or seven weeks shows this longing we have for things to be normal. This longing we have for things to be calm. We don’t like people to tell us to be calm yet we really want to be calm. Even in the midst of things being crazy around us we long for calm. But here’s the reality, this global pandemic which is turmoil all around us, which is not calm all around us, that’s happening externally and it for sure impacts us internally.

On one of our Monday Conversations which we post on YouTube every Monday, two psychologists in our church, Buddy Mendez and John Townsend, shared something really profound and it’s a really important interview, you should check it out if you haven’t already seen it. Whatever level of anxiety or depression or stress you had going into the pandemic, that if you were here, you’re now here. If you were here, you’re now here. We all are on a spectrum in terms of the calmness of our souls and whatever level you were going into this, it’s just escalated in this season. So, we long to be calm, yet in this moment, there’s an internal turmoil in all of us at some level and we’re all at different places there but we all can be struggling in this season.

We want to be calm. We don’t like to be told to be calm and we’re going to see in this incredible psalm today, Psalm 131, that the message of the Christian faith is so good to us, because the message of the Christian faith does not yell at you to be calm. The message of the Christian faith is not, “Calm down and carry on. You, be calm. You, be calm.” It’s not the message of the Christian faith. It’s much better than that. 

The message of the Christian faith is actually that He calms us. Not that we calm ourselves down but that He is the one who does the calming. We can be calm not in our own merit but as we remind ourselves that we are already accepted and already approved because of what He did for us on the cross. On Him, all of our sin was laid. On Him all of our guilt and our shame was placed. We can be calm because we remember that He’s done all of the work for us. 

The Gospel quiets our hearts. It calms our minds because we remember that we’re already approved and already accepted and already His because of what He’s done. We’re going to see that today in Psalm 131. It’s an extremely brief psalm but it’s a beautiful psalm and I want you to see this with me today. Psalm 131: 

The Scripture says this, “LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I do not get involved with things too great or too wondrous for me. Instead, I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like a weaned child. Israel, put your hope in the LORD, both now and forever.”

That’s it. That’s Psalm 131. Many people actually memorize this psalm because it’s just those three verses and it’s such a powerful psalm and I want you to say it aloud, right where you are. So, if you’re at your home, in your living room, if you’re at your office, wherever you’re watching this, we’re going to put the words back on the screen and will you say it aloud?

(Psalm 131: “LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I do not get involved with things too great or too wondrous for me. Instead, I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like a weaned child. Israel, put your hope in the LORD, both now and forever.”)

I have calmed and quieted my soul. 

Charles Spurgeon, a famous preacher in London, said this years ago that Psalm 131 is a short psalm but it is a long one to learn. It is short to read but it is long to learn. It is hard to learn to do this. We’re going to talk about this in a moment. It is hard to learn, to actually quiet our soul. It’s hard to learn that. 

When I was in South Florida for years, when I lived in Miami, every fall, there were hurricanes that would threaten to hit South Florida and many times they did. Many times, a hurricane would hit the coast there, the east coast, and it was always fascinating to watch on the news every night as hurricane trackers were tracking the hurricane, you would have these hurricane hunters in these airplanes. I would never want this job. This would be the worst job for me. They fly into the hurricane. These guys fly into it! They fly into the middle of the storm. It’s with a camera, you can see what’s going on. 

You can see what they’re experiencing as they’re measuring the speed of the winds and they’re going in in these airplanes and they’re bumping all over the place and then this is fascinating when it happens…then the plane, boom, it cuts through the eyewall. If you’ve ever seen this before, you know it’s fascinating, when the airplane gets through the inner eyewall, everything is calm. And eerily so. It was bumping and so crazy and chaotic, and then boom, everything was calm inside the eyewall. 

Don’t you want that? Don’t you want that for you? This is what the Psalmist is saying that even though everything is crazy on the outside, I can be calm on the inside. 

My soul can actually be like the inner eyewall in a hurricane in the center of the storm. I can actually be calm even though everything is crazy around me. I want you to know that I don’t believe that Psalm 131 is like this “magic pill” for every struggle you have in your life. I know that this is a means which God will use. I’m going to teach this with conviction today because the Lord chooses this psalm in my life and I believe that He can use it in your life as well. 

And I believe that the Lord has a word for you today from Psalm 131. But there’s other times where you’ll need to use other means from which you can quiet your soul. Whether that’s a counselor, a therapist, community, some other means to which your soul can be quieted but He will use this. He will use Psalm 131 to quiet your soul. 

There’s a Christian counselor who really has impacted me and his name is David Powlison. He actually passed away last year. He wrote this really long article. You can tell I’ve marked it up. I’ve read it so many times. He wrote this in the Journal of Biblical Counseling and it’s an article he wrote about Psalm 131. He wrote this article about what it means for you to have a quiet soul, a calm soul, in the midst of craziness. Listen to what he says. He says this,

“This person is quiet on the inside. This man isn’t noisy. Not obsessed. Not on the edge. The to-do list and pressures to achieve don’t consume him. Ambition doesn’t churn inside of him. Failure and despair don’t haunt him. Regrets don’t corrode his inner experience. Irritation and dissatisfaction don’t devour him. He’s quiet.”

Don’t you want to live that way? Don’t you want your soul to be quiet in such a way where failure and despair don’t haunt you? Where regrets don’t corrode your inner experience? Where dissatisfaction doesn’t devour you? Don’t you want a soul that is calm and quieted? This is what Psalm 131 is all about. 

In fact, the phrase there in Psalm 131, for “calmed and quieted”, can actually be translated, “leveled and smooth”. Your soul would be level and smooth. Not choppy waters, not bumpy waters but level and smooth waters. I want this for my soul. I want this, as your pastor, I want this for your soul. 

But if we were honest, many times, we don’t live this way. This isn’t our experience. Our soul is bumpy and choppy. It reflects the chaos around us. Instead of being calm in the midst of a storm, our soul actually reflects the storm that we find ourselves in. 

So, Powlison, this famous Christian counselor, wrote what he called the “Anti-Psalm” and I’m going to put this on the screen for you as well. The “Anti-Psalm” is what Powlison says as he counseled people. Powlison became a Christian after his roommate at Harvard led him to the Lord. After becoming a counselor, he counseled countless people who struggled with internal turmoil with not being calm, when things are crazy and he wrote what he called the “Anti-Psalm”, the opposite of Psalm 131.

I want you to see what he wrote and ask yourself, “Does my life sound more like the Anti-Psalm or does it sound more like Psalm 131?” This is not in the Bible. This is Powlison’s Anti-Psalm, which is the opposite of Psalm 131. Here it is, the Anti-Psalm: 

“Self, my heart is proud and my eyes are haughty, and I chase after things too great and too difficult for me. So of course I’m noisy and restless inside, it comes naturally, like a hungry infant fussing on his mother’s lap, like a hungry infant, I’m restless with my demands and worries. I scatter my hopes onto anything and everybody all the time.” 

Powlison, this famous Christian counselor says, “That’s why my soul will be bumpy because I’m scattering my hopes onto anything and everything instead of setting my hope on Christ.” I want my soul to be level and calm, to be smooth and I want that for you. There’s three things that we’re going to see in Psalm 131 and this is actually a progression. That short psalm actually gives us insight into how our souls can be level, and to how our souls can be calm and there’s three things we’re going to see. 

We’re going to see, number one, we’ve got to get off the ladder. I’m going to talk about that. Number two, we’re going to see that we need to live as a content child. And number three, we’re going to see, to put our hope in Christ. Number one, get off the ladder, two, live as a content child and three, put your hope in Christ. Let me teach this. 

Powlison wrote, and I take the first part from him, that the reason the person in the Anti-Psalm is living the opposite of 131, of Psalm 131, the reason there’s such turmoil is because the person is living life on the ladder. So, living life on the ladder is how many of us live and when you live life on the ladder, this is essentially what life is. It’s this constant climbing and striving and you don’t feel secure, you don’t feel safe, things are always nervous and you’re constantly striving to get to the top. When you live life on the ladder, well, there’s always somebody above you. You look at that person with envy. 

And then there’s people beneath you that you look at with disdain because, well, you’re better than those people and you want to be like the people above you. Life on the ladder is exhausting because you’re constantly climbing. And here’s what else happens, you really have no peers when you live life on the ladder. There’s not enough room. There’s not enough room for you to have peers, right? 

There’s people who are above you and you kind of want to get to them, and then when they disappoint you as you get close to them, you, then knock them down and now you view them with a disdain and then there’s somebody else that you want to get close to or that you want to top and get to and then the closer you get to them, the more you realize their life is not all that it’s cracked up to be. So, then you push them down and life on the ladder is exhausting. The first thing we have to do is we have to get off the ladder. 

The other reason that life on the ladder causes this internal turmoil, if you view people that way, where there’s people above you that you…“I got to get them”, and there’s people below you that you’re like, “Ah, they’re not as good as me.” If you view people that way then they probably view you that way, too. So, there’s this constant paranoia, this constant turmoil, this constant unrest, this constant striving when you’re on a ladder. Number one, the way to calm and quiet your soul is to 

  1. Get off the ladder.

Verse 1 of Psalm 131, actually describes life off the ladder. So, this is what life off the ladder looks like. Look back with me at verse 1. David, the Psalmist said this (Psalm 131:1), ” LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I do not get involved with things too great or too wondrous for me.” 

So, life off the ladder means that my heart isn’t proud. My heart isn’t proud. See, the Christian faith really drives a stake into the heart of pride because the Christian faith is not a faith on the ladder. The Christian faith is not a faith where God is standing at the top of the ladder and inviting us to climb. The symbol of the Christian faith isn’t a ladder. The symbol of the Christian faith is a cross. 

It’s a cross! The Christian faith is not about us ascending in our goodness to our Creator. The Christian faith is the glorious news, not of us ascending but of Christ descending to us and placing Himself on the cross in our place for our sin. That drives a stake into the heart of pride because we now remember that we’re only His because of what He did and not because anything we’ve done. 

To get off the ladder is a step away from pride and walking in humility and saying, “My heart is not proud, because I know I’m only His because of what He’s done.” My heart is not proud.

David also says, “My eyes are not haughty,” which is life off the ladder because when you’re on the ladder, you’re constantly comparing yourself to other people. You’re looking at people above you, you’re looking at people beneath you. But when you’re off the ladder and your heart is not proud and you’re resting in what God has done, then your eyes aren’t haughty and you’re not looking at others and comparing yourself to others. 

Then, notice what he says in verse 1, that is really so counter-cultural to where we are today. He says, and this is crazy because He’s the King, he says, “I do not get involved with things too great or too wondrous for me.” 

The King of Israel, this great warrior, this incredible leader, David, says, “I don’t have it all figured out. There are some things that I’m not an expert in. There are some things I don’t know. There are some things that are too great for me to try to figure out. There are some things that are too wondrous for me to try to learn and I’m not on the ladder, feeling like I have to know everything. I’m not on the ladder feeling like I have to prove myself over and over again, by climbing to the top of all knowledge. There’s just some things I don’t know.” 

Isn’t that so opposite of where we are today? 

Where we are today in our culture is, you can Google anything, therefore, if you’re not careful you can think you can become an expert in everything. Because I can Google anything, can I be an expert in everything? In fact, you’ve probably seen this in the middle of this global pandemic. You might have some friends who haven’t read a scientific book or journal article since college and read one post on social media from somebody else and they’re now an expert in how infectious diseases spread. We’ve seen that happen where I’ve read one thing and all of a sudden, I think I’m an expert. In fact, I’m not the only one who has seen this in our culture. 

A couple years ago, Tom Nichols released this book, it was fascinating called “The Death of Expertise”. It wasn’t a Christian book but it’s a fascinating book because in it he says that we don’t have experts anymore because everybody thinks they can be an expert. We don’t have experts in our culture anymore because everyone thinks they can be an expert in everything but as he researched, here’s what he concluded—He concluded that the more confident you are that you know everything, actually, the more incompetent you are. The more confident that you are that “I’ve got this whole life figured out and I know everything,” the more incompetent you prove yourself to be. 

He essentially says that to be prideful is to be dumb. Here’s what he writes in the book, “The dumber you are, the more confident you are that you’re actually not dumb.” That is the opposite of what David is saying in Psalm 131. He’s saying, “I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t feel like I have to have it all figured out. I’m not on the ladder. My heart is not proud. My eyes are not haughty. And there are some things that I am not going to live with the pressure of having to know.” 

See, that’s one reason that our souls can get bumpy and choppy because if we live with the pressure of having to become an expert in everything, then we’re constantly going to feel like we’re behind and we don’t know enough. We’re constantly going to be overwhelmed with this burden that God does not want you to carry and you’re going to feel like you’re on a ladder and it’s miserable. Number one, the way for your soul, the way for my soul to be quieted, is to get off the ladder. 

  1. Live as a content child.

Now, verse 2. I thought about teaching this next week on Mother’s Day weekend because verse 2 really is this incredible verse for Mother’s Day. And next week, Church, I want you to know Mother’s Day is going to be incredible. We’re going to do all we can for Moms to be honored. The service is going to be awesome. We have Izzi’s mom who’s going to be joining to sing. This is going to make sense to you because some of you were like, “Who is that girl?” We see it every week in the chat or people will email. “Who is the one who’s singing? She’s so amazing!” 

Well, Izzi’s mom is Crystal Lewis, which she, at one time, was … she still is this incredible singer but at one time was one of the most famous Christian singers there was. When I first was in the game in Youth Ministry back in the day, everybody was singing Crystal Lewis songs. Well, she’s Izzi’s mom. So, Crystal Lewis and Izzi are going to sing together next week. 

Then, Bethany Hamilton, the surfer, who’s a believer, who loves Jesus and is also a mom, she’s going to have a message for us for a couple of moments to kick off our service next week. So, you want to be on time, it’s going to be great. Then I’m going to share how we can have joy and the forgiveness of God. It’s going to be a great week to invite friends next weekend, Mother’s Day. 

But this verse, verse 2, which I’m not preaching on Mother’s Day, because I’m preaching this weekend, actually gives us a picture of God parenting us and shepherding our souls so well. I want you to see verse 2. So instead of being on the ladder, instead of being there (Psalm 131:2), “Instead, I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like a weaned child.” 

Now, Moms, please give me some grace as I try to explain this passage because I have never nursed a child but I have done a lot of reading. That’s kind of like the Death of Expertise. I am not an expert on nursing a child but I want to try to explain this passage. 

As I understand it, an unweaned child is constantly, frantically crying whenever the child wants to eat and essentially expects to be fed whenever he cries. So essentially, here’s the child and the world revolves around the child and when I cry out, that’s when I expect to eat. And then this child is also rooting around feverishly, discomforted and trying to eat and is just not content. Then when the child is weaned, the child still depends on the mother but the child enjoys sitting in the mother’s lap and loving the mother for the mother, not only for what the mother provides.

The child, when the child is weaned, still depends on the mother to feed the child. A weaned child who is small is not getting up from the mother’s lap and going in the backyard and firing up the smoker and saying, “I’m cooking a brisket for everybody.” This is not what the weaned child is doing. The weaned child is still dependent on the mother but joyfully so. And this is how David describes his relationship with God.

David says, “This is how I am with God. I sit in His arms and I trust Him to feed me. And I realize that He doesn’t revolve around me, that my life is really revolving around Him. He’s the center of my life and I’m content, joyfully content, to just trust him. To be in His arms and trust Him to provide for me and trust Him to take care of me. 

This Psalmist is essentially saying that when we live life on the ladder and when we’re filled with pride, that we’re walking around like a big man-baby, thinking that everything revolves around us and that to mature is actually to be a content child, who still sits joyfully in the arms of our loving God and trust our God to care for us and feed us and shepherd us and love us well. 

Jesus, as He walked the earth, encouraged us to have a childlike faith, to be content in the arms of God. So, number one, you get off the ladder. Number two, you live as a content child. 

  1. Put your hope in Christ.

Put your hope in Christ. Verse 3, the end of the Psalm, David turns and looks at Israel, God’s people, and says (Psalm 103:3), “Israel, put your hope in the LORD now and forever.” And me, as your pastor I turn and I say, “Mariners, listen, put your hope in the Lord. Put your hope in the Lord, now and forever.”

As you’ve probably heard me say before, I do not like to fly. When it’s turbulent and it’s bumpy I always get a little bit nervous and sheepish and I’ll look around and who I look for when things start getting turbulent on a flight is, I look for the flight attendants. They’ve been there before. They’ve felt turbulence before and if it’s bumping and I look up and they’re still walking around, “All right, this is good. This is good.”

If they are told by the pilot, “Flight attendants, take your seat”, I turn around or I look up over the seats or look into the aisle and see how they are in their jumpseat. If they’re there in their jumpseat and they have a magazine and they’re flipping through and they’re still just flipping, I’m like, “Okay, this is good. They’re calm. I can be calm.”

Understand that this psalm is saying, “Listen, put your hope in God. Put your hope in the Lord.” The one that we are encouraged to put our hope in, He’s always calm. He’s calm. He is calm. In this moment, in the craziness of whatever is going on in your life, He is calm. He never hurries. He’s never frantic. He’s never out of control. He’s not having a freakout moment. He is fully at peace. He’s fully calm.

There’s a story in the Gospel of Mark, in Mark chapter 4, where Jesus is on a boat with His disciples. And in this story, the wind and the waves have kicked up and they’re buffing against the boat and the boat is essentially getting ripped apart by the wind and the waves. It is crazy. Everything around is chaotic but what’s happening in the boat? What’s happening in the eye of the storm? Everything around is chaotic. Do you know what Jesus is doing in that moment, in Mark chapter 4? He’s sleeping! He is sleeping! Everything around is completely crazy and Jesus is taking a nap.

The disciples are not super excited about this. They’re like, “Why is he sleeping? Wake him up.” They wake Jesus up and Jesus looks at the wind and the waves and He says, it’s a famous verse. He says, “Peace, be still.” Peace, peace, be still. And with a word, He calms the wind and the waves and I want you to know that He can calm the wind and the waves in your soul as well. He can calm you and quiet you. He can. The God you trust is a God who is calm. The God you trust is the God who is at peace and rest. He is the God who calms the wind and the waves and He can calm the wind and the waves in you as well. Jesus, in the most intense moment of His life, the darkest moment in His life, the craziest moment in His life, He actually lived Psalm 131.

When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, which is the most tumultuous moment in human history, from the garden until Christ is on the cross, those hours are the most tumultuous moment in human history, and in that moment, Jesus is overwhelmed and He calms and quiets His soul. He does exactly what the Psalmist writes. Jesus reminds Himself that the Father’s plans are the best plans. He calms and quiets His soul and He reminds Himself that His Father, God, the Father is in charge of everything. As He’s in the Garden of Gethsemane, He says, “If there’s any other way for me not to go to the cross, I’d like that plan B now, but not as I will, but as You will. I’m a content child in your arms and I’m a weaned child and I calm and quiet my soul.”

Jesus indeed became calm. The people, the authorities who come to arrest Him walk into the garden and Judas, His betrayer, the backstabbing that this felt like, walks up to Jesus and betrays Him with a kiss and Jesus is calm. Peter, in that moment, pulls out a sword to fight and Jesus says, “Put down your sword,” and He is calm. He’s brought away to this crazy trial and He doesn’t even speak in His defense. He is calm. The prophet Isaiah said of that moment, that He would be led like a lamb to slaughter but He would not open His mouth before His accusers and Jesus, in that moment, is calm. He’s calm.

And as He goes to the cross, submitting to the will of the Father, He is calm. In that moment on the cross is the most tumultuous moment in human history as all of our shame and all of our sin is placed on Him. As our sin is placed on Him, we receive His forgiveness and this is why now in this moment we can calm and quiet our souls. We can calm and quiet our souls because we remember that on the cross, all of the turmoil was placed on Jesus. All of the shame and all of the guilt was placed on Jesus, and now, people of God, you can calm and quiet your soul. This moment, whatever struggle you have, this moment isn’t defining you. The moment that has already defined you is the moment when Jesus was on the cross for you.

This moment that we find ourselves in, the craziness of this moment, this is not when you validate your life or your life is unvalidated. Your life was validated when Jesus placed Himself on the cross for you and so you calm and quiet your soul by remembering everything that He did for you. If you are going through a difficult time in this season and things feel so crazy, this moment doesn’t define you. What’s already been defined is the moment when Christ was pierced for your transgressions and He was crucified for your iniquities and the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him. As it was on Him, we now receive all of His forgiveness. How do I calm and quiet my soul?

I realized that my job doesn’t define me, my lack of a job doesn’t define me—Christ has defined me. I realized that the label that other people put on me doesn’t define me—Christ has defined me. I realized that whatever has happened to my portfolio in the market, that doesn’t define me—Christ has defined me. That’s how my soul can be quiet. That’s how your soul can be quiet. Not by looking all around you but by being in the middle of the eye of the storm and remembering that your God is calm and quiet. When you trust Him, He can calm and quiet your soul. What do you do?

You get off the ladder. You remind yourself, I don’t want to be a big baby that thinks the world revolves around me. I want to be a child who’s content in the arms of God and I’m going to put my hope in Christ, the one who’s ultimately calm for me, who took my turmoil upon Himself.

In a moment as we wrap up our service, we’re going to sing this incredible hymn called “It Is Well With My Soul.” Now, some of you are new to the Christian faith and maybe just in the last couple of weeks, you’ve been checking out our church and we’re so, so glad that you were here. Maybe this will be the first time that you’ve ever sung this song. And what a title, right? Even when things are so crazy, it is well with my soul. I can be calm in this moment. I want you to hear the background to this incredible song.

It was written in the late 1800s by a lawyer named Horatio Spafford. Horatio Spafford lived through a crazy and chaotic moment. It was the Chicago fire and he lost everything that he had. He lost it all. He decided, with his wife and four daughters, that they were going to go to England to get away from all of the craziness. But he still had some business to take care of in Chicago, and sent his wife and four daughters on ahead and they were on a ship going to England. And the ship that they were on was hit by another ship. His four daughters were lost and only his wife was left. His wife wrote him a telegram, letting him know that everything…he had lost all of his possessions and now he loses his four daughters.

He boards another ship to meet her in England and as he’s on that ship, he pens these words. And they’re powerful when you understand that he’s on a ship and he’s seeing the sea billows roll. He’s understanding the pain of everything that he’s lost and the words don’t minimize the pain of everything that he lost but he calms and quiets his soul by remembering everything that Christ has done.

 

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

 Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
And has shed His own blood for my soul

 It is well, it is well with my soul

 

Your soul can be calm and quiet as you put your trust in the One who is calm. The One who embraced all of your turmoil to make you His forever. Put your hope, put your hope in Christ both now and forever. It is well, it is well with my soul.

That’s my need. It’s what I want more than anything. I want it to be well with my soul. In these confusing times and difficult times, I want to be settled like Eric talked about. I want to have the calm that is so important in our life and one of the practical ways and the real practical steps that God gives us, to be resting in Him, is to trust Him, especially to trust Him with everything in our life.

Our finances, in this challenging time, God is amazing, that He blesses us. He takes care of us and I am so proud of some of you, as you give faithfully and regularly and you trust God. It’s an amazing thing. But I know that there are some who’ve lost their jobs, lost careers or they’ve lost a number of things and as a result, it is so uncertain and you live fearful with a sense of “Will God take care of me?”

God promises that He will be our provision, that He blesses us and He doesn’t just bless us to take care of ourselves. He blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. And when we give, we show that we’re going to trust Him. There is nothing that is more calming to our hearts than when we express trust in God. When we say, “I’m going to trust you with my life, my career and that you’re going to provide for us, for me.”

In this time, as a church, one of the things that we know is all of us have to tighten our belts. We know as a church, we have to tighten our belts. One of the things that I love about Eric is that he is a courageous leader. He is finding ways to tighten our belt as a church so that every penny goes to ministry and I know at the same time, he’s committed to protect the most important ministries. We want to be a church that reaches out to the lost and shares the wonderful news about God’s kindness and love.

At the same time, we want to be a church that shows God’s love to people, that we take care of the poor and the needy among us. So, we’re committed to do that. And one of the things that’s amazing to me about Jesus is one of the only people He really points out about their giving is the widow. The widow who gave just a small gift in a mite. I always wonder, why did God point out this woman who gave such a small gift?

I think one reason is because it takes a huge amount of courage to give a small gift, to trust and to believe that God is going to honor that, that that’s enough. And in trusting Him, that God will take it and use it in a powerful way. Secondly, I think it’s because it’s a message to us, as leaders, that every gift needs to be treated as if it was the widow’s mite and that’s what we do as a church.

We want to provide opportunities for you to give. You can see all of the ways that you can give.

To Give, text “My Mariners” to 77977 

And if you want to make giving a priority, then the best way is to make it recurring and you can see how you can do that. That’s what I do and it is such a joyful thing to be able to trust God and to be right where I want to be, trusting Him. Hold out your hands and receive God’s benediction.

Father, look at Your children. They love You. And as they are gathered around the community, would You bless them and keep them. Would You cause your face to shine upon them and be gracious to them. Would You lift up the light of your countenance. Would You turn Your attention towards them and as they cry out to You, God, would You give them Your peace. We ask in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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