Introductory Note:

If you’ve ever had the privilege of being led in an Ignatian exercise by Jan Johnson, you have truly interacted with Scripture! A long-time student of Dallas Willard, Jan has tirelessly interpreted Kingdom life for a 21st-century person in her writing and teaching. Her work honestly shares God’s transforming power in her own life, and challenges readers and hearers to be receptive and responsive to God’s many generous invitations. This article is a sample of one of her monthly “Wisbits” available at It takes us right to the core of what it means to live in the reality of the Kingdom of God—what trust looks like in daily experience. Let’s take a look at Jesus together. (Used with permission.)

Zane Creamer

I recent­ly had an extra­or­di­nary expe­ri­ence while I was doing lec­tio div­ina on Jesus still­ing the storm (Matthew 8:23 – 27). In that scene, I usu­al­ly find myself riv­et­ed on the moment that Jesus says Peace, be still” and every­thing calms down (Mark 4:39). But this time I found myself fas­ci­nat­ed by what Jesus’ face might have looked like before he stilled the storm.

Jesus had been asleep. As my friend Dal­las says, he would have been very relaxed. So I saw this strange­ly relaxed face of Jesus in the midst of death­ly chaos — howl­ing wind, peo­ple yelling, waves rolling, water rush­ing into the boat, feet wet from the water fill­ing the boat, peo­ple pulling on him to wake up. 

Maybe I was riv­et­ed there because I would like to be relaxed in the midst of chaos — orga­ni­za­tion­al chaos when no one knows what’s going on, emo­tion­al chaos when I can’t sort things out, phys­i­cal chaos when my body is aching for some rea­son. I want­ed what­ev­er it was Jesus had that made him relaxed. 

Then I began recall­ing favorite phras­es from The Spir­it of the Dis­ci­plines that revealed why Jesus could be relaxed. So I imag­ined Jesus’ face and con­sid­ered that: Jesus was relaxed because spir­i­tu­al­i­ty is a mat­ter of con­nect­ing with anoth­er real­i­ty. Jesus was relat­ing to and func­tion­ing in har­mo­ny with this spir­i­tu­al real­i­ty. He nev­er lived on his own.” His faith in God was a pow­er­ful life force (like the force of the wind). He had trained him­self to live on the life of God even in a phys­i­cal, quite drown-able human body. He had the vital­i­ty and pow­er and ener­gy of the King­dom of God in him. He was tru­ly alive to the King­dom of God. This gave him a force of a high­er life. In short, he lived in expe­ri­en­tial union with God.

At that moment, he exhib­it­ed the kind of life you and I are invit­ed to live – alive in the King­dom of God, in har­mo­ny with spir­i­tu­al reality. 

If you wish, reflect on this using this Rem­brandt paint­ing. You’ll notice the chaos on the left first, but look to the right to the seat­ed, relaxed Jesus with his face turned toward the storm. 

How does his relaxed man­ner make you feel? Does he have what you want? Where are the storms in your life where you want to rely on God? What would you like to say to Jesus? What specif­i­cal­ly do you want to say to him about this pow­er­ful real­i­ty in which he is invit­ing you to live?

Jan John­son begins this piece by ref­er­enc­ing her time in lec­tio div­ina. Are you eager to inter­act with God as you read Scrip­ture? You may be inter­est­ed to know that she has a book com­ing out next month called Meet­ing God in Scrip­ture: A Hands-On Guide to Lec­tio Div­ina (Inter­Var­si­ty Press). We’ll be shar­ing more about this excit­ing release with you in the upcom­ing weeks. As always, thanks for read­ing!
–The Ren­o­varé Team

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed by Jan John­son on jan​john​son​.org as a Wis­bit” and used here with per­mis­sion of the author.

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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