Summary: "Here is God!" He’s in the boat with us when we’re going through the storms, but often we forget God’s greatness, God’s graciousness, and God’s power.
We all remember Hurricane Katrina and the damage it inflicted on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. It’s only a memory now, but it left terrible devastation and painful memories that still remain. The other night on the news they were revisiting New Orleans and looking at how much still remains to be done. As I watched, I thought about all those sailors over the centuries who looked to the sea for their livelihood, and how familiar they must’ve been with similar scenarios. Then I also thought how life is often compared to a voyage at sea.
Consider the ancient sailors for a moment. Now they really were the ultimate risk-takers. A weather forecast in those days meant, maybe, a couple of hours warning . . . if they were lucky.
I read about an interesting map that’s on display in the British Museum in London. It’s an old mariner’s chart first drawn in 1525. It outlined the North American coastline and adjacent waters that had been explored. The cartographer made some intriguing notations on areas of the map that represented regions not yet explored. Some of his notations included the following:
* "Here be giants!"
* "Here be fiery scorpions!"
* "Here be dragons."
The article explained that eventually the map came into the possession of Sir John Franklin, a British explorer in the early 1800’s. Franklin scratched out each one of the fearful inscriptions, and he wrote these words in their place: "HERE IS GOD."
How often do we live our lives like we’re following that original map? We sail through waters which seem filled with many dangers. Fear of the unknown becomes very real to us! It seems that "Here be Giants! and "There be fiery scorpions!" and "Near by are terrible dragons." Our fears take away our peace of mind everywhere we turn.
In this mornings Scripture reading, we read Matthew’s account of some disciples in a situation very much like the one I just described. Those disciples forgot something very important. Let’s review a part of that account:
“. . . Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ And Jesus answered, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’” (Matthew 8:23-26 NLT)
You see, Jesus’ disciples forgot the same thing that we often forget; "Here is God!" He’s in the boat with us when we’re going through the storms, but often we forget God’s greatness, God’s graciousness, and God’s power. Matthew continues his story of Jesus by saying, The disciples just sat there in awe. "Who is this?" they asked themselves. "Even the wind and waves obey him!" (Matthew 8:27)
Our text today finds Jesus and His disciples literally on the sea, and we can learn much about our voyage through life by way of this passage.
At various times, we’re all caught in a storm, and some today may feel they’re about to go under. Well, there’s peace and stillness on the way, if you’ll listen to God’s Word now. Consider Matthew’s story. What was the problem? Well, actually there’s
2 problems: a Sinking Ship and a Sleeping Savior.
Let’s remember that the disciples were led into that storm by following their Master. Some believe that storms come for the Christian only when they rebel or disobey God, but that’s not true. God’s will isn’t always smooth sailing.
The storm described in Matthew wasn’t unusual on the Sea of Galilee, and I’ve read that it’s still the same today. The Sea of Galilee is really more of a big lake—13 miles long and 8 miles wide. It’s surrounded by mountains and hills.
The cool air comes over the mountains and mixes with the warm sea air and violent storms can erupt without much warning.
So consider this, isn’t that pretty much how the storms of life come?! One minute the sun’s shining, and the next the lightning’s flashing, thunder booming, and the winds and the waves go wild. The phone rings and in seconds your life is changed. You have a routine doctor visit, but the look on his face says it’s not going to be routine. It can happen at an intersection in a flash, or when your boss calls you into the office, or when you open the electric bill. Storms arise suddenly and violently, and without warning.
Storms come from a variety of causes:
• Sometimes we stir up our own storms. These storms are of our own making, like in Jonah’s case. He decided not to do God’s will. It’s amazing as you read the story how many times it says that Jonah ‘went down.’ After he decided to go his own way, it says he went down to Tarshish, down into the heart of the ship, down into the sea, down into the belly of the whale. The moral here’s an easy one.