Someone raised with me on Monday the interesting observation that in Revelation chapter 21 there is no sea in the 'new heaven and the new earth'. As with all parts of the Revelation to John, symbolism is involved. In Jewish and ancient thought, the sea is fearful mystery, and the source of chaos, storm and unseen monsters. Ocean sailing and fishing were pretty risky activities back in the day. It stands to reason that in John's conception of God's peaceable kingdom to come, chaos and fear (represented by the sea) would be eliminated.
In the season of Pentecost, in which the church remembers the imparting of the Spirit upon the church, we often imagine that revival will break out. Ministers are especially prone to thinking that as they have fasted and prayed, practiced the best songs and worried over their sermon, Spirit fire will come and afflict and enliven the comfortable, slumbering congregation before their eyes, and prophecy, signs and wonders will break out. I am a visual thinker and have far too vivid an imagination shall we say. The songs always sound better in my head...
Our reality is that the Spirit of God does come, and is among us, but perhaps not in the ways we imagine or determine. It is no accident that in scripture the Holy Spirit is presented to us in various ways - fire, wind, dove. Who are we to determine the sovereign activity of God? God is un-tameable and does not fit in our categories.
Last week I fasted a few meals for the purpose of prayer, a genuine sacrifice as I love to eat. Yet it seemed the things I was praying about got worse in the following couple of days. Does that mean I will stop praying in faith that God will intervene? Surely not. My resolve is strengthened to continue, and to seek God's peace in the midst of the brokenness and chaos of life. As the storm waves crash around us, we hold the flame of God's presence within imperfect and broken lives. Perhaps we are not sure what to do with this mystery of how we experience God. Simply trust and pray. We wait for the new heaven and the new earth.