Summary: No matter the storms of life, Jesus is there in your boat.
Cornwall/Montreal retreat- July 2 & 3, 2005
Robert Munger- 20th century theologian and pastor in the southern California area- was in a storm. This is his story in his own words.
Being assaulted by winds and walls of waves and a wildly tossing sea was like being run over by a train in a dark tunnel. We knew the typhoon was coming, but I for one hadn’t expected it to pack such a wallop. Everything was battened down as we prepared to take a direct hit. Those of us who were on deck had our slickers on- similar to the old yellow slickers used by New England fisherman. Being a novice to things of the sea, I’d hung mine up by a hot pipe a few days before and the heat had melted all the oil from the fabric. Now my slicker leaked like a sieve. It wasn’t much good but it was all I had to wear as the ship shuddered and pitched into huge mountains of brine and foam.
It was fast approaching midnight. As I made my final rounds on deck, everything I saw brought on physical terror. The lights of the ship reflected only a few feet out over the water. Each wave became visible only as it reared to crash. More than once, I thought, “what if I were washed overboard while making my rounds? No one would even know. I would be lost forever in a violent, angry sea.” The possibility of death was enough to focus my mind. But almost as terrifying as drowning was the fear of falling into darkness and death all alone. No one to see. No one to hear. No one to report. The blotting out of life. Caught. Trapped. Right there in the eye of the storm.
I don’t know what storms in your life you’ve had to face — literal storms or figurative storms. Literal storms: maybe at sea; maybe on land; maybe with the snow; maybe with the ice, – as many of us experienced in the Ice Storm of 1998. Maybe your storms have been with the rain or the wind, with typhoons or with hurricanes. And some of you, I’m sure, have stories to tell . . . stories of survival, since you are here today, alive and well!
Some of you, I’m sure, have stories about being in ‘figurative’ storms as well, some of which you may not want to share or tell. Stories of mental or spiritual storms that you’ve passed through. Related to your work. Related to your livelihood. Related to your colleagues, your relationships, at home, perhaps, with family members. Related to your body, your health, your strength, and your mind.
I don’t know what storms you’ve been through but I do know that all of us at some time or another have had an experience in which we have felt our life to be so tiny, tossed around like that little cargo ship in the middle of the wide ocean. Tossed around as if in the middle of a storm that would not go away, with our lives in danger, with chaos threatening at any moment to undo us, to rip life away. Thrown in every direction.
Today if you have ever been in a storm, or are in a storm, I want you to think through a storm that the disciples and Jesus went through together.
Luke 8.22-25- read.
First, we have: I. The Crisis.
Verse 23 “…there came down a storm of wind…and they were filled with water.”
This was no ordinary breeze blowing-this was hurricane Andrew all over again! Luke writes here that the storm was so bad that the ship was full of water. Mark wrote in his account of this story that the waves were beating the ship that it was full of water. Matthew in his account said that the waves covered the ship. So, you see that this was one serious storm that was going on. They had a crisis on their hands. The ship was full of water, the waves were as high as the boat and they were headed for the bottom of the sea unless the storm ceased.
Have you ever felt like this? The storms of life are blowing so hard, that you are about to sink because you can’t handle the winds and rain anymore. The disciples knew what you are going through. They didn’t think they were going to make it. This was one serious crisis confronting them.
Of late, we’ve all seen, on the news, pictures of the flooding that is taking place because some areas have been getting rain, and more rain, and more rain in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Now, I don’t know a whole lot about being in a boat while the storm was on, but I can talk a little bit about being in the storm and not knowing when the winds were going to cease.