…there’s a Lord who has never left us, One who rises in the tumult to again command, “Peace, be still.”
One bitterly cold day when I was 23, I stood beside an open grave and read these lines to a grieving family:
“And all is well, tho’ faith and form
Be sunder’d in the night of fear;
Well roars the storm to those that hear
A deeper voice across the storm.”
The words had been extracted from a monumental poem, “In Memoriam,” composed by Alfred Tennyson in 1850 to commemorate the loss of his friend, Arthur Hallam. The lines spoke comfort, certainty, and faith—things people at a graveside need.
Ten months later I stood beside the open grave of my best friend in a light October rain and wondered at my optimism. Jeff and I had been friends since the beginning of high school—battling for the highest grades in English, chemistry, and math; singing in mixed quartets and choirs; praying together every morning during a break between classes.
Now he was gone, a brilliant young minister, cut down by a road accident at the dawn of his day.
Was there, in fact, “a deeper voice across the storm”? It took me months to discover it—hard, painful months in which the reassurance I had offered others didn’t always soothe my grief. The seeming meaningless of loss—the hopes cut short, the conversations never had—felt like the Galilean waves that nearly sank another boat.
It required months—no, years—and other major storms survived to be certain of that deeper voice. Losing my friend was only the first of many tempests that have battered my boat in the last 40 years. There were other accidents, other dread diseases, that swept away the ones I loved. There were a hundred disappointing days when I wondered if my ministry meant anything, if progress could be made, if some beside me in the boat had given up their trust and hope.
Yet still we push out to the deep, let down our nets, and find ourselves surprised by joy. This boat makes many crossings of the lake—to watch the Saviour still feed thousands through His word; to see His healing touch conveyed through hundreds of trained hands; to see new converts buried in the water and raised again to life abundant.
And on some nights the winds still howl. The waves still lash God’s remnant church with all the fury of the demons Jesus once sent plummeting into the lake. The boat will seem to fill with pain as we discover just how much the devil hates this fishing craft. And we will need each other—to remind each other—that there’s a Lord who has never left us, One who rises in the tumult to again command, “Peace, be still.”
Keep sailing, friends, and when it’s needed, keep on rowing. There is a great calm coming—an eternal, joyful harbor to which the Lord will finally steer His ship.
Stay in grace. Stay in the boat.