Summary: Jesus may not always end the storms in your life, but He will always be with you empowering you to weather them through to victory.
WHEN THE STORMS OF LIFE ARE RAGING
Last week I began my message saying, “Inspiration for a sermon comes from many people and many places.” I would not be surprised, therefore, if you asked me, “Who or what inspired your sermon today?” Well, let me tell you. This time God immediately led me on Monday, and here is how He spoke to my heart. He used two brothers in Christ to bring this about—Ron Clark, an old friend from high school days in Marion, Illinois, in the early to mid 1960s, and Bruce Swartz, a brother in Christ in our Central Illinois Emmaus Community.
You will remember that the weekend of July 13th through the 15th I had returned to my hometown Marion, Illinois, to help the Marion High School Class of 1965 celebrate their 60th birthday. They had invited the class ahead of them, the Class of 1964, and our Class of 1966, to come as their special guests.
I don’t know when I’ve had more fun and been closer to Jesus in a long time. I saw friends I hadn’t seen for more than forty years; had breakfast with cousins on my Dad’s side of the family on Saturday and lunch on Sunday with those on my Mom’s side. I had a “God Moment” at the gravesite of my parents as I placed flowers in their vases and attended worship and Sunday School at my home Church Marion Aldersgate United Methodist.
The birthday party consisted of a mixer at the Bowling Alley on Friday evening with the main event being held at the VFW on Saturday. Both evenings I spent time with Ron Clark, Class of 1965. Ron was one of the basketball players on our 1965 Elite Eight Basketball Team. Those were the days before class championships and the IHSA would crown only one State Champion. We lost our Quarter Final at the Assembly Hall that year to Thornton of Harvey 64-60. That was the second time we had lost to them that season having previously been eliminated by them from the Centralia Holiday Tournament in the second round 66-60, but we were extremely proud of our team.
Ron is now a retired school teacher and former coach. Most of his time these days he spends traveling across the country encouraging and ministering with victims of major disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Enhanced Fujita 5 tornado that on May 4, 2007, leveled ninety five percent of Greenburg, Kansas, killing ten people. Currently he is in the process of publishing a book that has as its goal raising funds to assist the victims in Greensburg, Kansas.
Reflecting on his calling to aide disaster victims, Ron shares these words with us in a letter to our three Classes:
I am not suited for major world events. I simply spend my days
finding people hurting and try to ease their pain. Some times it is
finding an elderly couple that has most of their house in need with
little resources and a desire to move in before they die. Sometimes
it is helping with some paper work with four hours on the phone
talking to a government or insurance company’s official. Most
of the time it is looking for a person who cares and matching
them up with a person of need in a disaster.
Ron Clark, sixty year old, retired school teacher, is a person who cares and is making
a difference in the lives of people who hurt.
Last Sunday evening Liz and I had to return to our former Church Decatur Central United Methodist for the Anointing Service for the Central Illinois Team that has been leading our Men’s Walk to Emmaus in Springfield this weekend. As Community Spiritual Director, it was my privilege and ministry to anoint the Weekend Spiritual Director The Rev. John M. Cross, Pastor of Bonfield-Grand Prairie United Methodist Parish, as the Weekend Spiritual Director.
Our good friend Bruce Swartz from Restoration Urban Ministries in Champaign gave the homily based on the account of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee, our Gospel Lesson for this morning. Although we usually call it the Sea of Galilee, Scripture also calls this famous, Biblical body of water the Sea of Chinnereth, Chinneroth, or Tiberias; or Lake Gennesaret or Gennesareth. In size it is more like a lake.
God used Bruce as my second source of inspiration for today’s message. Bruce emphasized that we normally miss the point of this event. Our lesson is not the fact that Jesus said, “‘Peace, be still.’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” That is not the primary lesson in Discipleship Jesus is seeking to teach us.
Get the picture. This is not a deluxe yacht or first class cruise ship with the disciples on one deck and Jesus asleep in His luxurious suite a deck or two below. This is a first century, wooden fishing boat, most likely about 26 feet long by 7 feet wide. It could carry no more than fifteen men.