Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Ludolf Backhuysen, 1695
IT felt like the last straw. Our vehicles have been breaking down costing a small fortune, the farm animals have been getting sick and mysteriously injured, the machinery has been failing, the garden isn’t growing, windstorms have ravaged the fruit trees, and our apostolate has run out of money. As I raced last week to catch my flight to California for a Marian conference, I cried out in distress to my wife standing in the driveway: Doesn’t the Lord see we are in a free-fall?
I felt abandoned, and let the Lord know it. Two hours later, I arrived at the airport, passed through the gates, and settled down into my seat in the aircraft. I looked out my window as the earth and the chaos of the last month fell away beneath the clouds. “Lord,” I whispered, “to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life…”
I took out my Rosary and began to pray. I had hardly said two Hail Mary’s when suddenly this incredible Presence and tender love filled my soul. I was surprised by the love I felt since I had thrown a fit like a little child a couple of hours before. I sensed the Father telling me to read Mark 4 about the storm.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”* The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4:37-40)
As I read the Word, I realized that those were my own words: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And I could hear Jesus saying to me, “Do you not yet have faith?” I felt the sting of my lack of trust, despite all the ways God has provided for my family and ministry in the past. As hopeless as things now appear, He was still asking, “Do you not yet have faith?”
I felt Him asking me to read another account when, once again, the disciple’s boat was being tossed by wind and waves. This time, however, Peter was more bold. Upon seeing Jesus walking toward them in the water, Peter says:
Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith,* why did you doubt?” (Matt 14:28-31)
“Yes, that is me,” I silently wept. “I am willing to follow You until the waves hit me, until the Cross begins to hurt. Forgive me Lord….” It took me two hours to pray the Rosary as the Lord walked me through the Scriptures, tenderly rebuking me.
In my hotel room, I felt compelled to open the diary of St. Faustina. I began to read:
My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners… I desire to bestow My graces upon souls, but they do not want to accept them… Oh, how indifferent are souls to so much goodness, to so many proofs of love! My Heart drinks only of the ingratitude and forgetfulness of souls living in the world. They have time for everything, but they have no time to come to Me for graces. So I turn to you, you-chosen souls, will you also fail to understand the love of My Heart? Here, too, My Heart finds disappointment; I do not find complete surrender to My love. So many reservations, so much distrust, so much caution…. The infidelity of a soul specially chosen by Me wounds My Heart most painfully. Such infidelities are swords which pierce My Heart. —Jesus to St. Faustina; Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 367
“Oh my Jesus… forgive me, Lord,” I cried. “Forgive me for wounding You by my lack of trust.” Yes, Jesus, dwelling in Heaven as the source and summit of the joy of the saints, can be wounded because Love, by its nature, is vulnerable. I could clearly see that I was forgetful of His goodness; that in the midst of the storm, I have “reservations, so much distrust, so much caution…” He was now asking of me for a complete response of my will: no more doubts, no more hesitation, no more uncertainty. cf. “The Hour of Victory” to Fr. Stefano Gobbi, given to me a couple days later; To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons; n. 227
After the first night of the conference, I turned to the Diary and, to my surprise, read what Jesus said to St. Faustina during her conference:
In the evening, after the conference, I heard these words: I am with you. During this retreat, I will strengthen you in peace and in courage so that your strength will not fail in carrying out My designs. Therefore you will cancel out your will absolutely in this retreat and, instead, My complete will shall be accomplished in you. Know that it will cost you much, so write these words on a clean sheet of paper: “From today on, my own will does not exist,” and then cross out the page. And on the other side write these words: “From today on, I do the will of God everywhere, always, and in everything.” Be afraid of nothing; love will give you strength and make the realization of this easy. —Jesus to St. Faustina; Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 372
During the course of the weekend, Jesus calmed my interior storm and did what He said He would accomplish, insofar as I gave Him my full “fiat.” I experienced His mercy and healing in a very powerful way. While none of the problems back home are fixed, I know now, without a doubt, Jesus is in the boat.
While He was speaking these words to me on a personal level, I knew that He was also speaking them to those at the conference, and to the entire body of Christ regarding another Storm that is coming…
JESUS IS IN YOUR BOAT
And I want to tell those of you who are trying to follow Christ, despite your personal failures and setbacks, despite the trials and suffering which are at times relentless:
Jesus is in your boat.
Soon, this Storm is going to take on dimensions that will impact the entire world, moving her irreversibly toward the ultimate purification of evil from the planet. Few understand the scope of what is about to take place very soon. Few are prepared for the dimensions of this Storm. But you, I pray, will remember when the waves come crashing down:
Jesus is in your boat.
The reason the Apostles panicked was because they took their eyes off of Jesus and began to focus on the waves “breaking over the boat.” We too often begin to focus on the problems, which at times, seem as though they will totally sink us. We forget that…
Jesus is in the boat.
Keep your eyes and heart fixed on Him. Do this by canceling out your will and living in and accepting His will in all things.
Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. (Matt 7:24-25)
We are being called to walk on water—to tread over the abyss amid wind and waves and a disappearing horizon. We must become the grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies. The days are here and coming when we are going to have to depend upon God entirely. And I mean this in every way. But it is for a purpose, a divine purpose: that we would become the army of Christ in these last times where every soldier moves as one, in obedience, in order, and without hesitation. But this is only possible if the soldier’s mind is attentive and obedient to his Commander. The words of that prophecy given in Rome in the presence of Paul VI come to mind again:
Because I love you, I want to show you what I am doing in the world today. I want to prepare you for what is to come. Days of darkness are coming on the world, days of tribulation… Buildings that are now standing will not be standing. Supports that are there for my people now will not be there. I want you to be prepared, my people, to know only me and to cleave to me and to have me in a way deeper than ever before. I will lead you into the desert… I will strip you of everything that you are depending on now, so you depend just on me. A time of darkness is coming on the world, but a time of glory is coming for my Church, a time of glory is coming for my people. I will pour out on you all the gifts of my Spirit. I will prepare you for spiritual combat; I will prepare you for a time of evangelism that the world has never seen…. And when you have nothing but me, you will have everything: land, fields, homes, and brothers and sisters and love and joy and peace more than ever before. Be ready, my people, I want to prepare you… —word given to Ralph Martin, May 1975, St. Peter’s Square
Jesus is in our boat. He is in the Barque of Peter, the great Ship of the Church that must pass through this Storm called “The Passion.” But you must also make sure that He is indeed in your boat, that He is welcome. Do not be afraid! John Paul II told us time and again: Open wide your hearts to Jesus Christ! It is no coincidence that the words that Jesus gave to St. Faustina for the Church in this Last Hour are so simple and yet precise:
Jesus, I trust in you.
Pray these from the heart, and He will be in your boat.
Mankind has a decisive need for the witness of courageous and free young people who dare to go counter-current and proclaim strongly and enthusiastically their faith in God, Lord and Savior.… In this time threatened by violence, hatred and war, give witness that only He can give true peace to the hearts of men, to families and to the peoples of the earth.” —JOHN PAUL II, Message for 18th WYD on Palm-Sunday, 11-March-2003, Vatican Information Service
Peace, Be Still, by Arnold Friberg
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|1.||⇡||cf. “The Hour of Victory” to Fr. Stefano Gobbi, given to me a couple days later; To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons; n. 227|