Summary: A sermon on facing the storms of life with Jesus.
Get Out of the Boat!!!
In the summer of 1985, my father had to do a wharf job on Grand Manan Island. He was going to be on the island for a couple of days, and I really wanted to go with him. I always loved going to work with Dad. Mom would always make ham and cheese sandwiches on the days I went to work with Dad. Dad passed the idea by his boss, and I was allowed to go.
The boat ride over to the island was as smooth as can be. I walked around the ferry and enjoyed the view. I saw a couple of whales and porpoises. When we docked, Dad and I went to the motel where we would be staying, had some supper, and off to bed.
The next day, Dad did what he had to do, and then we left. The boat ride home was not quite as smooth as the day before. In fact, a storm was just starting. As we go on the ferry, my stomach was feeling queasy. I then made a big mistake. When we got to the sitting area, I chose to sit on a stool instead of a bench.
As we made our way across the Bay of Fundy, the ferry began rocking. As I sat on the stool looking out the window, I thought I was going to be sick. As I looked out the window, all I could see was the grey sky and the green water... Grey sky, green water. Up and down, back and forth. My father had the common sense to tell me to lie down. If he were here today, he would probably snicker as he told you of how my face grew paler as each wave rocked the boat.
Storms are not great things to ride out, are they? In September 2003, Hurricane Juan, the tenth named storm and the sixth hurricane of the 2003 Hurricane season. It was a category two hurricane that struck the provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island causing significant damage to trees and property, particularly within the urban core of the Halifax area. The storm killed 8 and caused over $200 million in damages. Many people, including many here, went days without electricity.
On February 18th, a low-pressure system developed off the eastern seaboard of the United States and intensified rapidly as it tracked north-eastward. By the morning of February 19th, with the storm located south of the Maritimes, heavy snow and strong winds had spread to all areas of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and southeast New Brunswick.
A province-wide State of Emergency was declared in Nova Scotia and the Halifax Regional Municipality imposed traffic curfews as the massive snowfall paralysed the region. Businesses and schools were forced to close, as many roads would not be cleared for days. Some flooding was also reported in parts of Prince Edward Island and southeast New Brunswick as very strong northerly winds produced a significant storm surge. By February 20th, “White Juan” had left behind a large swath of snowfall accumulations in the range of 50 to 70 cm, with a few pockets of 80 cm or more. To this day, Paul Ferguson still cringes when that four lettered “s word” is mentioned.
We are all too familiar in this area with storms. During many of the storm warnings we have received, we are told to stay where we are. Do not leave the house in case it is a dire emergency. In fact, many of us enjoy the comfort of our own homes when the winds are howling outside. We find comfort in our familiar surroundings. It’s nice to feel safe, isn’t it?
But what happens when the storms of life arise? What do we do when our faith is being shaken to its very foundation?
Over the past few weeks, we have tripped through the Gospels. During this time, we have seen Jesus do amazing things in the lives of those living in His time. People have been fed. Jesus has changed water into wine. He has also been confirmed by God Himself to be the One we should listen too. Today, we find Jesus out in the middle of the storm, and He is calling us to Him. (Read Matthew 14:22-33)
This morning, we are in the middle point of our message from last week. Last week, we saw Jesus on one side of the Sea of Galilee, a lake in between a range of mountains, feeding 5000 on one side, and explaining to the people that He was the real “Bread of Life.” Today, we pick it up when He leaves the crowd.
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” (Matt. 24:22, 23)