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Present in the Storm

I thought I was in control of, well pretty much everything. It started with my charter boat. My boat was my world. When you stepped on my boat, you stepped into my world. Storage was strategically placed and easy to access. The back deck had rod holders, downriggers and electronics perfectly mounted. Rods, reels and lures were always loaded and ready. There was no wasted space.

My clients came from every walk of life—CEO’s, families, attorneys, business owners, medical professionals, Joe six pack, athletes, service workers, and tradesmen. But when they stepped onto my boat, they entered my world. After all, who knows how to navigate a large boat? Who knows where the fishies are hiding? Who could possibly make sense of the dozen or more lines we were trolling let alone get the boat back to port and into the slip?

I was in control of my boat and my client’s destiny. And many days, it felt like I was in control of the fish’s destiny as well.

After the lines were set the hunt began. I was fully present to the world around me. In Zen Mode, I could feel my environment, the weather, and intuitively sense the currents below the boat. Setting a spread of lines was fueled by intuition, science, and experience. Instincts guided me as the boat and gear sliced through the water, interacting with every molecule of water, systematically searching for the schools of fish.

Through fishing and my boat, I brought order out of the chaos.

Today I didn’t go fishing. I watched the sun rise over the small pond beyond our living room window. I’m loving my neighbors and being a good citizen as I Shelter in Place. Lake Michigan and the fish are still there, but my world is significantly smaller.

It’s a bit of a paradox, in this day of Globalization and interconnectedness.

Yesterday the world seemed really big! You were a plane ride away from anywhere. Today, the world seems smaller and quieter. We’ve all had to give up activities, relationships, and things we take for granted.

Others have lost even more . . . their job, their business (I’m worried about my favorite little restaurant in Milwaukee, Crazy Water, I hope she survives!), a friend or family member to COVID-19. My wife’s best friend had her father snatched away by this unpredictable virus.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has cast its shadow across our nation and the world during Holy season. Apprentices of Jesus pause to remember and celebrate the miraculous intervention of Jesus into space and time.

But how will the faithful celebrate the miraculous if the churches are closed? Some might respond, “Thankfully the liquor stores are still open.” Yes, if you focus on the news it would be so easy to pour yourself another drink . . . But Jesus calls us to walk not in fear but faith. This Easter morning the faithful will rejoice in spirit and truth.

This COVID-19 pandemic is an event that will surely change everything and the irony of that taking place while we celebrate the other One event that changed everything. Two thousand years ago one man was hung on a cross . . . and died! Three days later that same man walked out of his tomb!

I ended last week’s blog by talking about the need to be still and reflective in this season. Not an easy task for a guy who has defined his life by his accomplishments and achievements. But, the practice of being still before creation has drawn me closer to the heart of God.

I cannot control the events overtaking our world. I used to think I was in control—of the lake and my life. Confession? That is an illusion that God has been slowly stripping away over the past 30-plus years. I’m still learning, but for years my intoxicating sense of control on the boat followed me home.

A home is much more complicated and messy than a charter boat! While the weather and fish may be unpredictable, the delicate dance between a loving husband and loving wife leading their four loving children is wildly unpredictable, fragile, and beautiful beyond description. Like the two sides of a storm, fury and beauty, are the many facets of a healthy family. I may have been fully present to the world of sea and sky around my boat, but at home? Let’s just say I’m a work in progress.

I can’t control the outcomes of my family, let alone the world. But I can choose to be fully present in this moment. Just like on the lake, I can pause, and look deep within myself as I choose to trust in the One who spoke creation into existence and defeated death.

I want to encourage you during these strange days we find ourselves in. Pause.

Take deep breaths. Fully inhale the life-giving oxygen . . . Fully exhale the spent air out of your lungs. Breathe deeply into the life God has given you. Be present to what God is doing in you and around you.

As I ponder the events of the first Easter, I am reminded of the mystery hidden in Christ. After celebrating one last Passover meal with his friends, Jesus retreated late at night into the Garden of Gethsemane. Shrouded in the mystery of being fully God and fully man, Jesus fell to his knees and cried out to his Father (Abba is the Aramaic word for father Jesus spoke and it translates—Daddy), “Please take this cup of suffering from me! Not my will, but yours.”

How often do I cry out to God? But my cries are more like an irritating grumble to God—hey! Why don’t you fix so and so? Why did you allow this or that to happen to me? When do I say not my will but yours, Lord?

Last week I made a practice of getting up early and sitting before the morning sun. Rather than log into the news and pandemic updates I let my mind and heart wander back to the final week of Jesus life. As if I was walking with Jesus this simple exercise gave me a fresh perspective on the day before me. I’m learning to live fully present to the moment I find myself in.

We may not be able to bring order to the chaos swirling in the world, but if we look deep inside, we may be able to center ourselves and calm the swirling chaos of our souls.

If you have questions about Jesus, please email or message me at I would love to tell you more!

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