Summary: This is my "first sermon". It uses the example of Jesus in the Garden as an example of how we can face the storms of life.
Good morning! Today is kind of an anniversary for me and I’m really excited to be here with you today to mark this day. You see, it was eleven years ago today that I was sitting out there in a pew in my dress blues after my thirteen-week vacation at Perris Island, South Carolina. I can still remember the gathering of the church body the week before I left that was held specifically for me, the prayers that were offered that night and throughout my time at boot camp, and the tears that were cried by myself and many of you when I left. I don’t know if some of you were crying tears of joy to see me go………..but I still remember them. The love and support I have always found at this church has meant a lot to me since then. If you had told me eleven years ago that I would be standing here today I probably would have laughed at you, but, I stand here as proof that a lot of times, our plans are not necessarily what God has in mind for us and he is capable of using ANYBODY. I guess I am saying all of this to say thank you to our loving Father for giving me the chance, the privilege, to speak to you today, and to thank all of you for the opportunity as well.
I have been accused of being a bit of a television junkie throughout my life. At any given moment at our house, chances are, the television is on, and more often then not, if I am in control of the remote, (and I’m a guy so I usually am) it is tuned to ESPN or some other form of sports. I tell everyone that I don’t follow to many things in sports very closely, and Anne is quick to correct me and name all of the teams that I follow and all of the events I do not miss. I have also gotten in trouble for filling up our TIVO with every episode of SportsCenter for a week. But, I do have other interests as well. I am an avid viewer of the History Channel and the Discovery Channel and I must admit I do not pay a lot of attention to news channels such as CNN or Fox. However, every once and a while, an event comes along that I can’t seem to pull myself away from. Obviously, 9/11 was such a day. I know that every channel on the networks and on satellite were airing the coverage so you couldn’t really ignore it if you wanted to, but, even if I had been given the choice of other programming I would have stayed with the coverage.
August 29th of last year and the days immediately leading up to it were another such event. I watched with a prayerful interest and a fear for those in the New Orleans and Mississippi areas as Hurricane Katrina bore down toward them. I watched as those who had no where else to go sought shelter in the Superdome and as those who had decided to ride out the storm boarded up their doors and windows and hoped and prayed for the best. I found it really ironic, disheartening, and in some ways ludicrous that we were able to see the storm coming but yet so many people were still going to face the full brunt of it either by choice or through a lack of a way to get out of the area.
In a way, what happened in August of last year to those living in the Gulf Coast area is a lot like our lives today. Storms are inevitable and the need to be prepared to avoid them when possible and to prepare for them when they cannot be avoided is imperative. I’m not talking about physical storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Instead, I am talking about the emotional storms, the spiritual storms, and the physical storms such as illnesses that it seems like we constantly face in our lives. Is there a way that we can prepare for these storms before they hit, and when they do hit, are there steps that we can take to make it through them. Is there some example from the Bible that we can turn to in these situations?
You see, I’m a big example guy. Maybe it is what I do for a living but I am constantly watching people. Observing them and how they respond to certain situations in their lives. I pay close attention to whether or not these responses actually work for them. If they do, I’m not afraid to copy them. If they don’t……….well I generally try to do something else. So, I often look to the Bible for examples of how to handle different situations. These can be specific in nature, such as “Sibling Relationships.” I probably wouldn’t follow the example of Jacob when it came to relating to my sister unless she made me mad. These examples can be general as well. So, is there an example in the Bible for preparing for these storms and trials that come up time to time in our lives? I think there are a lot of examples.