My friend, Thomas Lane Butts, sent me this from Monroeville AL some time ago and I want to share it with you as we get nearer to Holy Week.
It is said that Robert Louis Stevenson told this story first. It really does not matter since the truth of it is there, regardless of who told it first.
A sea-faring vessel was caught in a storm off a rocky coast. The high winds and waves threatened to drive the vessel to its destruction. In the midst of the terror, one daring passenger, contrary to orders, made his way across the ship. He finally got to the pilot house. There he saw an intriguing sight: the ship’s pilot lashed to his post. Secure against the raging storm, he held the wheel fast, turning the ship, inch by inch, back out to sea. The pilot glimpsed the watching passenger and smiled. The brave passenger made his way back below deck where the other passengers huddled in fear. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “I have seen the pilot’s face, and he smiled. We are safe.”
Life can get to be rather scary from time to time. The storms of life can frighten even the bravest. We are afraid because we do not know what turn events will take. We are not sure of the confidence of the people who are in charge. Uncertainty is the father of fear, just as anxiety is its child. In times of uncertainty we need to hear an encouraging word or see a hopeful sign!
Jesus is to the world what the brave passenger was to those other passengers who were scared out of their wits. Jesus was the bearer of good news. He came to say, “God is smiling.” No other word is necessary if we know that our creator is smiling.
John reported how Jesus actually put it in John 14. “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many available rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there you may be also . . . .” Take courage, friends. All is not lost. Jesus says that God is smiling. If you can trust Jesus, all is well.
Several years ago I bought a print of a painting of Jesus. Every picture I have ever seen of Jesus portrays him with a serious or pained look on his face. The most optimistic look I had ever heretofore seen upon the face of Jesus was barely pensive. This new picture (which I love!) portrays Jesus with a broad smile on his face. It hangs in my study at home where I can see it as I work. When life gets grim and it appears the whole world is ‘going to perdition in a hand basket,’ I study the face of the smiling Jesus. It makes a difference in how we think about the ultimate outcome of things if Jesus is smiling . . . and God is smiling. They can see a turn of events in this sad world that is yet hidden from our eyes. But, if Jesus smiles and God is smiling, why in the world should I be so dismayed?
During this season of Lent when so many of us are trying to rearrange our lives to fit the spirit of Jesus in our kind of world, close your eyes and see Jesus smiling.