Every week, I try to think of some adorable anecdote about my daughter, something cute to relate to the Sunday Gospel reading. Unfortunately, my reflections usually end up drenched in worry or concern about something.
Normally, I’m a bit ashamed of this but, as I think about it today, it’s not all bad: there is something bittersweet about the reality that life is often stormy.
Perhaps it’s because the storms remind us that we are simply human, desperately in need of divine grace. After all, it’s pretty easy to forget about the Lord when everything is awesome.
Now, I’m not saying that the Lord sends the storms (that would be kind of cruel), but I’m definitely confident that He uses them. As a parent, I’ve learned that it’s okay to let someone get a little shaken up, especially if you know they’re ultimately going to be okay.
For example, one evening last winter, I let my daughter leave our house without her coat (remember, I live in Phoenix). It wasn’t too cold, so I knew she’d live without it. But I also knew she’d be a little uncomfortable, and that I could use this discomfort to teach her something.
After we’d been outside for 10 minutes, she turned to me and said, “Dad…”
I knew exactly what was coming next.
And my response? “Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that, honey. I know how that feels! One time I went out in the snow” (yes, she knows what snow is) “in my bare feet, and I was so cold! You can bet I’m never going to do that again!”
I didn’t make her cold. But I was willing to let her endure the cold while I shared her plight. Because the kid has to learn, and I’ll stick with her until she does.
In this scenario, the solution is pretty easy: my little one needs to put on a jacket. When it comes to our spiritual walk, the solution is just as simple, though it isn’t so easy: we need to “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).
That phrase has always perplexed me: how does one “put on Christ?” And what does it look like when one does?
Honestly, I’m not sure I have a solid answer, but I know one thing: it’s going to happen in the midst of the storm of life.
In the Gospel this Sunday, the disciples (as usual) find themselves in a predicament. They are at sea, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a storm, and Jesus isn’t even in the boat. Then, out of nowhere, comes Christ (wait for it) walking on the water.
The stormy water.
When Christ makes Himself known to the disciples, Peter says, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water” (Matt. 14:28). And with a single word, Christ invites Peter to join Him for the most incredible stroll in the history of ever:
We all know the rest of the story. But what’s most amazing to me isn’t that Peter could walk on water with Christ, at least until he was overwhelmed by the storm (we’ve all heard that Sunday School lesson). What’s more incredible is that, even in the midst of the storm, Christ just keeps walking
In Him, there is no fear, no complaint, no concern for the storm. He is steadfast.
This offers a glimpse of what it means to “put on Christ.” We wouldn’t go out in the cold without a jacket (at least, not more than once), inappropriately dressed for the weather. So perhaps when it comes to the storms of our lives, we also need to dress more fittingly.
We need to put on the steadfastness of Christ by putting our faith in Christ.
We also see this lesson in the life of one of my all-time favorite saints, whom we happen to commemorate on Sunday: St. Stephen, the first martyr.
After being accused of blasphemy for believing in Christ, St. Stephen defended himself with an incredible speech. The crowd was unconvinced, and began dragging him out of city to kill him. As they stoned him, St. Stephen echoed some of Christ’s famous last words: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).
Whatever else “putting on Christ” might look like, it has to resemble this. We may not face martyrdom, but we do go through all kinds of storms (job loss, divorce, betrayal), and Christ and St. Stephen show us that we can endure them without complaint, without resentment, and without the desire for revenge. We are simply to keep our eyes on Christ, and to keep walking.
We are to trust in Him, the One that no storm can shake.
For St. Stephen, putting on Christ’s steadfastness came down to trusting in the victorious and risen Son of God, whom he saw just seconds before this, stating, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). This is why his words echo Christ’s, for “when we see Him, we will be like him, for we will see Him as He is” (1 Jn. 3:2).
And to be like Christ means to be steadfast in the midst of a storm.
After all, Christ did not come to simply fix our problems, but He did come to share in and transform our suffering. And He remained steadfast in that mission all the way to the grave, and out again.
Following Christ, putting our faith in Him, literally putting on Christ doesn’t mean that storms won’t come. It just means that they don’t have to be nearly as scary as they once were.
It means that we can have the utmost assurance that Jesus doesn’t blench at the sound of thunder or the rolling of a giant wave. No, Christ keeps walking, and He invites us to do so too, keeping our eyes on Him every step of the way.
What do you think? How has your Faith in Christ helped you during difficult times. Leave a comment and let us know what you think!
Kid in Snow: yorkd via Compfight cc
Storm: Joseba Barrenetxea Altuna via Compfight cc
St. Stephen Martyrdom: "Garzi (attr) Stoning of Saint Stephen" by attributed to Luigi Garzi (1638–1721) - http://www.van-ham.com. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, mover, shaker, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, and CrossFitter. Christian has his MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and is working toward a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.
For more on putting on Christ, check out this episode of Be the Bee: