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“Stormed”

6July2012

We’ve been “stormed”. In the wake of the violent storms that swept through Ohio recently, downed trees and power lines littered the landscape, and many were left without electricity in the 90 degree heat. Cars and homes were damaged. Food spoiled and had to be thrown out. Those without hot water couldn’t even take a shower. When storms come to our lives, we are tempted to ask with Jesus’ disciples, “Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing?” (see Mark 4:35-41). In this story, we find that…

1. Storms come at inconvenient times.  This one occurred at night, after a long day of ministry. It’s one thing to be wet and cold and scared in the light of day, but it’s another thing to try saving a sinking ship in the dark, when you’re already exhausted.

2. Storms happen right in the middle of God’s will. Jesus had said to them, “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the mostly Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee, they set out for the eastern shore, where the Gentiles lived. In other words, they were on a mission. Some people will tell you that if you’re doing God’s will, your life will be storm-free, but the disciples were exactly where Jesus wanted them, doing exactly what God needed them to do, and the storm still hit them.

3. Storms happen to those who close to God. They had left the crowds, and those who were with Jesus in the boat were among his closest friends and followers. When Christ enters a person’s life, when he baptizes and forgives them, then watch out… for the winds of temptation and the waves of trouble are sure to follow. 

But here’s what the storm does not mean; it does not mean that God doesn’t love you. It doesn’t mean that God is angry, or that He’s paying you back for something you said, did, or didn’t do. In fact, wherever Jesus is, the storms are sure to come. A congregation that is blessed with Jesus’ presence in the Sermon and the Supper is sure to have trouble in this world, as he did.

4. In fact, some of us are in the midst of a storm right now. For some, the storm is financial. For others, its health related. Still others are drowning in the wake of turbulent relationships. If you’ve ever cried out to God in such a situation, and it seemed like he was asleep, that’s because the storm is no threat to him. 

5. Jesus cares. He doesn’ care about the storm, but he cares about those who are effected by it. He cares about us. He cares about us when we allow various trials to steal our joy, hope, and peace. He cares when we choose to dwell on our problems more than on His promises. He cares when we choose to focus on our difficulties more than on our deliverer. His purpose in the storm is to teach us about prayer,and obedience, and abiding.

6. Jesus responds. In the story, he rebukes the winds, which are the source of the turmoil. He speaks peace to the waves that result from it, and commands them to be still. He has authority, not only over the source of your problems, but also over the consequences. So “why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” This is Christ’s question to his disciples, who are dripping wet and bewildered. They are still huffing and puffing, but the wind is gone and the sea is quiet. And now their fears are redirected. “Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey him?”

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Calming storms is child’s play for the One who conquered sin, death, and the devil. He can do it in his sleep. But he’s more concerned about who we are becoming than he is about the weather. The recent storms in Ohio became an occasion for neighbors to help each other, as meals and homes were offered, and clean-up became a shared effort. And those who lost something, whether it was power for a few hours or property or even a loved one, gained a new appreciation for blessings normally taken for granted. 

The truth is that God has authority over every problem you will ever face. He has authority over every problem we will ever face together as church. What He has trouble with is finding people who will believe that. And trust that. And live like it’s true. So as we pray for those effected by the recent storms, let’s give thanks – not only for our many blessings, but for the Lord who gives them. The wind and the waves obey him. Let us do likewise.

JAM@CCD

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