From the Pastor – Sunday, March 29, 2020
Scripture lesson: Luke 8:22-25
One day Jesus and his disciples got in a boat. “Let’s cross the lake,” he said. And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” Getting to his feet, he told the wind, “Silence!” and the waves, “Quiet down!” They did it. The lake became smooth as glass.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?” They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, “Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!”
A Time to Say, “I Trust You”
When you think of a lake, what kind of picture comes to mind? A favorite summer vacation spot, complete with swimming, fishing, canoeing, campfires and mosquitoes? I think of some beautiful spots like that. I also think of the mighty Great Lakes, with their sand dunes, crashing waves, and the violent storms that can destroy pleasure craft and shipping vessels both.
And when you think of the sea? To some of us the water is wide and deep and beautiful. To others, it is wide and deep and terrifying. To some, the water is a mystery too big to grasp. To others, it is livelihood and lifeblood.
The sea is as dangerous as it is beautiful. When a storm threatens to capsize the boat, a sailor has to know what to do. And sometimes, if the storm is bad enough, no matter how strong the vessel, and no matter how experienced the sailor, it is the storm and the sea that win.
The Sea of Galilee is actually a lake, a freshwater lake. And while it’s not as large as one of the Great Lakes, it is not small, either. It’s about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. Much of Jesus’ ministry took place along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He called four of his disciples away from their fishing boats to follow him. The sea was part of life for Jesus and the people he preached to. It was entwined with life and livelihood for them all.
But the water could be treacherous. The storms that hit the lake were sudden and powerful, and even the most experienced fisherman was wise to fear them.
On this day, in this storm, the disciples feared for their lives. When their cries woke Jesus, he stilled the storm and calmed the waters. And they were in awe of what he had done. They were in awe of the miracle itself, and of what it meant – for if Jesus had such power over the elements of nature, then who could he be but the very Son of God?
It was too much for them to understand. And Jesus did not expect them to understand everything it meant – and everything it implied for their lives together. Jesus expected something that seems far simpler – he expected them to trust him.
He knew his disciples, knew their ups and downs. He knew that they were buffeted by the storms of doubt and fear. He knew that the paths they traveled together would take them through turmoil and danger.
He was there with them, even though they did not yet understand who he was, what he could do, how he would suffer. He was there to comfort and save them,
and to challenge them to know him better and trust him more.
The disciples could find no courage of their own. They could not control the storm that shook their boat. But they were not alone in that boat.
How much of the disciples’ story is our story, too? We, too, have many questions, many worries and doubts, and in this time of crisis and uncertainty we may find ourselves anxious and deeply afraid. Life can be beautiful when all is well, but challenging, or even deadly, when the weather turns – when the winds of danger or disaster blow, and when the waves rise up to overwhelm us.
We want to manage; we want to cope. We want to be brave all on our own. We even want to control what happens to us, as foolish as we know that is. How do we answer when Jesus asks, “Why can’t you trust me?” Perhaps it is no easier for us to trust, in the middle of a storm, than it was for the disciples. Perhaps that, which seems so simple, is one of the greatest challenges of our faith.
Like the disciples, you and I have much to learn about who God is, and all that means. We always will, no matter how wise we may think we have become. Yet all our lives, day after day, in so many ways, we are given opportunities to learn this one thing – to trust Christ’s presence. All our lives we are given moments in which, even if we understand very little, we can say, “I can trust you. I do trust you. I will trust you.”
We are not in the boat alone. The one who calms the storm is the one who loves us and will never leave us, no matter what.
Prayer: Lord of wind and waves, Lord of life and love, I trust you, today and every day. Amen.