You might recall the gospel story from Mark chapter 4 where Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee and they encountered a furious squall causing the boat to be swamped with water and the disciples to cry for help. As Jesus was awakened in the stern of the boat, he commanded the storm, “Quiet, be still!” In response, the wind died down, and it was completely calm. He then asked the disciples, “Why are you so afraid?”

In a similar story found two chapters later in Mark 6, the disciples were again crossing the sea, this time straining with the oars due to the strong wind that was pushing against them. Jesus, this time, had sent them on ahead, remaining behind in order spend some time in prayer.

Jesus intended to walk past the disciples on the lake, revealing His power over creation and recreating the glorious “pass by” walks that God had given to both Moses and Elijah (see Exodus 33:12-23 and 1 Kings 19:11-13). When the disciples became terrified thinking Jesus was a ghost, He abandoned the glorious walk and got into the boat. Jesus said to them, “Take courage and do not be afraid.” Immediately, the wind died down and peace was restored.

I hope that you have found that Jesus’ presence in your life brings peace. Whatever the storms that may arise or the hard winds that force us to struggle, Jesus’ presence with us can bring a peace that “transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

General Conference is just one reminder that there are things in this world that are out of our control. Like a squall that can rise up quickly upon a lake, things come into our lives that we must work through alone, together, and with the help of Christ. They call out of us a deep reliance upon God, giving us a chance to exercise our faith and experience Christ’s abiding peace. Without knowing the outcome of the General Conference vote (this article was written Feb. 17), it is hard to speculate its impact on Marvin, but I am confident that Jesus will be with us and we will continue to have a vibrant and fruitful ministry.

March will bring to us the meaningful journey of Lent and the opportunity for us to celebrate some significant ministries. The Amazing Grace Church in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, is currently building a fellowship hall to accommodate its growth and need for fellowship space; the Vida Abudante Spanish-speaking United Methodist Congregation here in Tyler will begin having prayer meetings and Bible studies in their newly-remodeled storefront campus on Houston Street; news of Cityfest and the opportunity to reach people for Christ in our community will begin to capture our imaginations and provide inspirational events and training.

Good things are coming, Marvin Church. There is much to celebrate. Remember, Jesus is in our boat!