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Facing the storms of life

3rd Sunday after Trinity Mark 4 35-end

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’

Facing the Storms of life.

It had been a long hard day; they had worked all the hours that God had given and probably some more.
I am sure we all know how that feels; there must have been days, if not now, certainly in our working lives when it was expected that we go the extra mile.
That line in the contract that says ‘and anything else your line manager requires.’
You know how it goes
We just need someone to check the figures
We just need someone to cover for Jack who is off sick
We just need someone to come in an hour early or work an hour late
And I am sure there must have been times when you thought OK I understand you need someone - but not me!

We can just imagine how tired Jesus must have been. Day in and day out he was teaching in Parables, feeding 5000, healing the sick at every turn, casting out demons, fending off the Pharisees and Sadducees and that is just the things we know about. Jesus was God incarnate, fully divine but he was also fully human and he was exhausted. He must have been for we read that he slept through a storm.

The Sea of Galilee is below sea level and is surrounded by mountains. The wind funnels down from all sides; add this to a huge squall with thunder, lightening and rain and you have a storm at sea, (In Matthew’s account he uses the word Tsunami.) The boat was being tossed about like a cork, they had no engine and the sails would not be any use. It was such a huge storm that it rocked the experienced sailors in the boat with him and they were frightened and in a panic.

How heartening it is to know that God understands what it is to be totally exhausted. Thanks be to God that Jesus was made like us in every respect and that we have a high priest who can sympathise with our weakness, he does understand how we feel.

But the disciples in the boat did not appreciate the fact that Jesus was tired and just needed to be left alone to sleep;
The disciples were in panic mode and it might have sounded something like.
‘We just need someone to slacken off these ropes.
We just need someone to hold the tiller.
We just need someone to bail out the water
We just need someone to do something’
and as another huge wave crashes over the deck.
‘We are all going to drown, Jesus, don’t you care?’

They shook Jesus and shouted until they managed to wake him, and the first thing Jesus said to them was a question ‘Why are you afraid?’ In other words he was saying;
‘You don’t need to be afraid if I am in your boat.
You don’t need to be afraid if you have taken me on board and welcomed me into your life; if I am your captain and I am in charge of your soul.’

They must have felt a bit sheepish standing there in the pouring rain, desperate for Jesus to do something – and then he said to them ‘Have you no faith?’
He was implying that you don’t just need someone to do something for you; what you need is FAITH.
Faith in someone who is greater;
Faith in someone who knows you better than you know yourselves.
Faith in someone who loves you, whatever.
Faith in someone who holds your lives in his hands.
I don’t think the disciples would have drowned out there on the lake, for they were part of a greater story. There were still some chapters to be written.
But they did need a lesson in FAITH, to believe in Jesus, to trust him to help them deal with the STUFF that life throws at us.

Just like David in the Old Testament reading when he was facing his storm - the Philistine Goliath
David had faith in his God, there was no need for him to panic.
Armed with his shepherd’s skill, five small stones and his faith in
God, someone who is greater than him, and of course we know the outcome. I have heard people say that all of the occurrences would have passed naturally, the squall would have blown itself out, and that David was a crack shot that these were just coincidence – all I can say is I would not be trusting coincidence to help me out when faced with the storms of life.

I don’t think the disciples would have drowned that day, but I do think they would have missed out on a huge lesson they needed to learn if they were to be the ones to spread the gospel without fear.

When life is as calm as a millpond it is easy to forget about Jesus. We easily can ignore the fact that he is sitting in the stern of your boat. We often get carried away paddling our own canoe until the wind gets up and the waves build and the stuff of life piles up and begins to come at us like a storm.

Then we find ourselves – just like the disciples shouting to Jesus, ‘wake up, where are you? God help me I am going under, I am drowning here, I need some help’ It is in the storms that we remember just how much we depend on God, and just how much we need him to sort it out for us.

In the boat, Jesus is very calm, their tired friend stands up and calms the storm. To their credit they didn’t say ‘O what a coincidence the storm just happen to pass as he was speaking;’ as I said previously, it is easy to dismiss the hand of God as mere coincidence.
The disciples were there, they heard his voice when he spoke to the storm.
They saw him raise his hand to still the waves and they experienced the calm after the storm.

This incident reminds us that God is not ‘up there’ floating on some distant cloud, God is 'in your boat.’
When we are working, sleeping, laughing, weeping, whatever state we are in He every bit as present now in the person of the Holy Spirit as he was then in the person of Jesus, and He is still speaking peace to the storms of life that trouble us and overwhelm us with anxiety.
He is still speaking peace to our hearts when we are afraid.
When the storm clouds gather, as they will, for they are a fact of life.
Clouds of loneliness, pain, fear, anxiety, depression, guilt or exhaustion, the list is endless;
When the storm comes as it surely will at some point in our lives may we know the peace of Jesus in our hearts, I pray that we will have the faith to trust that Jesus is in our the boat, we are not alone and we will not drown.

2020-05-07 19.01.33
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