The church yard was full of activity with only two days until the country fair. The annual fair was a great outreach opportunity. Most were happy to be there. Tony wished he was somewhere else. He usually didn’t mind helping out and could often be counted on to help paint or assist with the church picnic or whatever. So when the call came a few weeks ago to help for this event, he agreed. But he had no idea what the next few weeks would be like.
Dad called to say that his mother had been diagnosed with cancer. The doctors felt confident they caught it early but treatments could be painful. He then heard from his daughter’s guidance counselor. His ‘little princess’ had been acting up for some time from attitudes with teachers to failing subjects she’d need for college. And last week, the CEO at work told him that he would have to lay off two people on his staff.
So when the pastor called to remind him about the work day, he really wanted to back out. But his wife encouraged him to go. When he got there, he was asked to put together the ticket booth.
He was hammering away to get the sides of the booth together. It was clear to anyone watching, he was going to hurt himself. He was so agitated and anxious – and outburst waiting to go off. Just then a young girl from the youth group came over.
“Hey, need any help?”
“I GOT IT!” Tony realized he just yelled at her. “I’m sorry, please forgive me.”
“Are you okay? My name is Sarah.”
“I’m fine. My name is Tony.”
“Well pardon me for saying so but you sure don’t look fine. You look like you’re gonna explode.”
Tony grinned “I guess I have a lot on my mind. Family and work stuff kind of caved in on me.”
“Like a bunch of storms all of a sudden just crashed in on life, right?”
With a look of amazement at her understanding he asked, “How old are you Sarah?”
“What do you know about storms?”
“I may not have storms like yours but I have some of my own. Thing is, it’s not so much the type of storms or their intensity but what you do with them.”
He looked at her, “What do YOU do with them?”
“I talk to them.”
Tony smirked, was thinking how young this child was. “What do you say to them?”
“I tell them to chill out”
“How does that help?”
She invited him to sit down on the church lawn. “There’s a story in the bible of Jesus traveling in a boat with His disciples. He goes in the back to take a nap and this huge storm rises up. Everyone on board is so afraid. They are sure they are going to die. Then they turn to look for Jesus and where is He? Still sleeping.”
Tony interrupted, “That doesn’t sound very compassionate.”
“That’s what they thought. They even say to Him as they describe the storm ‘don’t you care?’”
“So what happened next?”
“He got up, turned to the storms, and said … chill out. And they did! Everything became quiet and calm. Then He turned to them and said, ‘What’s wrong with you? Where was your faith?’”
Tony, feeling her comments, tried to turn it back on her, “So what’s the point of the story?”
“Storms come, sometimes suddenly. Sometimes, it feels like all of life is this outbreak of total stormy-ness. In those times, when the real storms that are raging are the ones inside us, we need to turn to them and say … chill out. Getting all turned upside down inside won’t change them anyway.”
Tony looked at her. He was no longer thinking this was some child but marveled at how wise she was for only 14.
“You’ll be okay! Just tell those storms to chill out.”
He smiled at her, “That’s it! Just tell them to chill out?”
She smiled back, “well, you probably want to add ‘in Jesus’ name’ at the end of that. After all, that really is the most important part.”
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