When people take the time to write to me about one of my Bible devotions, I read their letter with interest. More than once I’ve been called up over a suspect claim or a disputed point of theology. In fact, at one time I started to dread the letters coming through the door.
But then I wrote a set of notes on the theme of pilgrimage, which seemed to strike a chord, especially with people who were transplanted from their homes. I still receive a lovely card at Thanksgiving from one of the readers, which I find moving.
One letter in particular blows me away. This woman was writing about some notes I wrote for New Daylight on the miracles of Jesus, and the text was Matthew 8:23-27, where Jesus calms the storm. (This is the series I’ve just started to post here on my blog – yes, I have to admit that this has been published previously!)
As I wrote in the notes:
The storm was no ordinary storm. This is hinted at by the Greek word seismos, which usually means an earthquake, or literally, a “shaking” (RT France, Matthew, IVP, 1985, p. 161). A force from outside brought chaos; that is, a squall came upon the lake violently and suddenly. Jesus demonstrates his authority by calming it with a rebuke…. Jesus wants us to believe in his power to still the storms in our lives, whether created from outside or from within. Sometimes they appear suddenly, taking us by surprise and perhaps flattening our faith. As we turn to him in fear or faith, asking him to save us, he brings calm and peace, creating order from disorder.
Here’s her letter (spellings intact):
I am a Brit living in Christchurch, New Zealand. For many years I have used and appreciated the BRF New Daylight series & at the memorial service for the victims of the earthquake today [18 March 2011] we were urged by our bishop to tell our stories. I don’t expect you realise what you wrote on the day of the earthquake, I had been at a small prayer group in the morning & read out the passage for Tuesday 22nd Feb & we talked about it, & related it back to September 4th the day of the first quake.
Fifty minutes after leaving the group we were once again hit by a terrible earthquake & as I took refuge under a rack of clothes in the shop I was passing through, I cried out to the Lord, in fear, to protect & save me & my family. I remembered what I had just read to the group & tried to trust Jesus. The past three weeks have been difficult, & nothing is the same, but all our family are well & this has brought us closer to the Lord.
I was bowled over, to think that the words of the devotional, written probably a year previously, would be so used by God in a place far away.
The power of words and the Word. What words will you speak or write this day, that might bring hope, comfort, or peace?