When Jesus Doesn't Calm the Storm
I chose this scripture because we are new in working together. Times are unclear and who is steering the boat can sometimes be perceived to be uncertain. We must always remember that the one who does (or does not) calm the storm is the captain of our vessel. The big picture is to develop our individual faith and our faith as a community. To do anything else has a negative impact on our ability to go and make disciples for His community.
On today, our first day together, it seems right that we take a look at the first community with Jesus. As we look at the scripture of the storm let us do so with newly opened eyes. The message is one of courage, faith and a re-examination of our beliefs that can bring us closer to God.
Jesus had been healing the sick and teaching all day. Tired, he and the disciples left Galilee by boat. A storm enrages the sea. Seemingly oblivious, Jesus sleeps through the storm. Finally, he is awakened by his disciples who ask “Don't you care if we are drowning?”
It was a question of disbelief as much as it was a request for help. In response, He calmed the storm. Then he asked the disciples to examine themselves by saying “Why are you so afraid? Have you no faith?”
The disciples began that re-examination by discussing with each other. They actively and openly wondered. They came to realize another dimension of Jesus that they had not recognized previously. They had seen him cast an evil spirit out of a man in a temple in Capernaum, heal many who were sick, clean a man who had leprosy and even heal a paralytic; but they had never seen Him calm a storm.
This was a new thought and they wrestled with what they had just experienced. As they wrestled their faith became stronger. They could have left Jesus when they safety on the shoreline. Instead, they continued to travel with Jesus.
One of the things about this passage is that it is relevant today. Whenever I read about it I automatically think of the Deadliest Catch television show. For those who are unfamiliar, the show is about the real life perils faced by seasoned crab fishermen and a few greenhorns as they seek fishing grounds across the waters of Alaska and into the Bearing Sea. Hardened brave men face the ocean ever season in a fight for livelihood and life.
The ships leave from Dutch Harbor in Unalaska, Alaska. Each year, the hardy seafaring captains and crew gather the fleet for a blessing of the ships. Just as the disciples did, these men know how to handle anything that the sea can throw at them. Just as importantly, they know the importance of going with God. Those of you who are interested in our connectionalism will be happy to know that Unalaska United Methodist Church serves the area.
As a small church, it's easy to feel alone. We draw inward, forget to look out and lose sight of our community. We need to be reminded that we can reach the community around us and forget that the United Methodist Church reaches across the globe. This means that we are connected to our brothers in Christ, in spirit and in worship. It also means that we can support each other in various ways.
Every year, Unalaska UMC in Alaska tries to hold a VBS utilizing mission trips from the people of the United Methodist Church. People like you, and like me go there to help. We go there to work because it helps with our understanding who God is. Locally, churches came together after the storms of April 2011 and of this spring to minister to each other and help meet each other's needs. These are examples of connectionalism and aid in our understanding of who Jesus is.
The disciples learned the answer but, the question is, do we?
Sometimes our storms are not weather related. Sometimes we deal with job loss, drug addiction, illness or strife within our family or the community. When we call upon Jesus sometimes we ask “Do you not care if I drown?” We wonder where He is and why He does not wake up to spare us.
Yet, we have the assurance that our prayers are heard. Matthew 10:29 tells us “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. “ (NIV)
The scripture goes on to say that we are worth more than sparrows to God. So then, you ask, why doesn't he take away addictions or other hurts or ills?
The irony is that fishing can be better after a storm than before. Just as with the disciples after the storm. Personal storms can make us more open to the movement of God.
God calmed the storm for the disciples so that they could better understand and deepen their belief. Not because they simply wanted Him to do so. The difference is subtle but powerful. There is a difference between making problems go away and developing a relationship with Him. One brings temporary relief, but the other is eternal.
As we go forward, to minster in the community and to each other we do so as a team. Let us always focus on the eternal reward and not on the storms. In the end, we will all be closer to God and have a deeper understanding of who he is and who we are, in Him.