Having flown over 500,000 miles, you would think by now when the pilot says, "fasten your seatbelts and prepare for turbulence," it would be of little concern. Unfortunately, those announcements are still followed with a wave of apprehension. Can you ever get totally at peace bouncing around in a metal tube at 37,000 ft with 400 other anxious humans? This is where we as Americans find ourselves this November 2nd, 2020 less than 24 hours away from a day of turbulence.
The secular prophets and spiritual prophets have been on the intercom for weeks with the announcement "fasten your seatbelts and prepare for turbulence." Little wonder we have a nation full of stressed, anxiety ridden, and offended people. The pressure of transitional times will cause even the "best of men" to crack under the pressure. The disciples of Jesus are a good illustration. Jesus, the pilot, for three years, prepared these men for the turbulence they would face.
As the most turbulent moment was approaching, the crucifixion, Jesus laid it all out for them to prepare and understand what was coming. In Matthew 23, 24, 25, Jesus gives an overview of the turbulence coming their way. Things like religiosity, deception, wars, plagues, famine, offended people, lawlessness, unprepared people, misused talents, and many other things that will cause their journey to be bumpy. Yet when the most turbulent moment hits the disciples, flesh and fear wins the battle. Peter suddenly has hearing problems as Jesus assures Peter that under pressure he will deny Jesus three times. Peter is deaf to that word and proclaims his allegiance, even to death. Then we see about 48 hours later, Peter takes an oath that proclaims his allegiance not to Jesus, but to the world.
Not to be left out, Jesus says in Matthew 26:31, "All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night." So, lest we pull out our swords and start cutting off ears, remember, turbulence can change the stability of anyone.
In Peter's story there is a "wait, there is more!" moment. In John 21, we see the beautiful moment that Jesus waits for Peter to get to the shore. Peter, now the fishermen again, staggers to the shore wet, ashamed, and broken. Jesus tenderly reassures him to his place of discipleship, and once again says "follow me!"
When the whole scene of Jesus' three years of ministry is looked at, it points to an event that made all the turbulence they faced even more understandable. Those three years, walking with Jesus, were beyond human comprehension, yet more was needed, according to Jesus, to truly withstand all the turbulence they, and us, will face.
That "more" was given, when suddenly, a mighty rushing wind blew into that upper room on the day of Pentecost. Those gathered in that room were forever changed and transformed. Peter, and the eleven, stood that day, 55 days after Jesus said you will all stumble, and faced the crowd in boldness and courage, never to stumble again!
May we all realize the only seatbelt that will truly give us the security in turbulent times, is the "wrap around presence of the Holy Spirit." May we, the church, stand with courage and boldness in these "times of turbulence."
I will build my church, says Jesus, and times of turbulence will not prevail against it.