And, the winner of the January book drawing is Carolyn E.! Congratulations, Carolyn E. I’ll be in touch to get your mailing address.
Register today for the February book drawing. Leave a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll enter your name for an opportunity to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.
Okay, who really knows what “billows” are? Many have sung words from the count-your-many-blessings song: “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost.” Have you ever been tossed upon a billows? Tempestuously tossed?
The word “billows” isn’t an everyday word, but if used in context, the meaning would be clear: Billows are shoving the cruise ship around. “The billows are frothy—not a good fishing day,” said the salty sailor. The billows splashed into the leaky John boat causing the fisherman to bail with vigor.
So, “billows” means waves, usually big one roiling and rolling. And life-billows must mean huge happenings that could cause drowning. Sea water can cause harm or good. The sea supports its world and inhabitants. But many humans, alien to life in the water, have been lost at sea. Humans can float on the sea, gather food from it or drown in it.
So, now that billows are in mind, what can we do if we get tossed on one? I’ve heard folks say that when bad times assault them, they can’t seem to pray. I’ve experienced that.
Others have told me, whenever pain, loss or devastation comes along, they find reading their Bible difficult. I’ve experienced that, too. When the brain is fogged by bad circumstances, pages can be turned but not comprehended because the mind is mired in despair.
But what do you do when the presence of God seems far away? For Jesus and his disciples, when life got crowded or dangerous, that’s when they fled to be alone for a day or night—alone with God.
When Jesus heard of his cousin John the Baptist’s beheading, he “withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14: 13).
Oswald Chambers says when “God gets us alone,” that’s when his most effective teaching occurs. When Jesus walked this earth, he and his disciples were constantly surrounded by problems of others, what Robert J. Wicks calls, secondary stress in his book Crossing the Desert.
But after a few intense days, Jesus would say something such as, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). They’d get away by themselves and over and over the same scenario is presented.
When the disciples were alone with Jesus, who is God, they asked questions. Isn’t that what we do when something puzzling happens? We ask a lot of questions, aloud and in our minds.
So when a toss on the billows happens, the lesson from Jesus and the disciples is to get alone with God. And who said questions to God, aren’t prayers. Questions communicate our sincerest thoughts to God. Then, we can present ourselves to listen for answers.
If you find yourself in the swell of a billows, spend time alone with God, it’s where he does his most significant work. He teaches survival techniques, passes out swim fins, and teaches us to float.