Some people may just not be cut out to sail.
Usually, they’re pretty easy to spot:
They’re the people clinging to the rail, or finding a spot as far away from the water as they can get, squirming (or worse) at any quiver or pitch in the boat. And should the wind rise or the water become even the slightest bit choppy? They have not yet begun to yowl.
Even if the boat should be populated by seasoned sailors or a reassuring crew, they struggle to find solace until their feet are planted on firm ground again, forgetting the whole time to keep their eyes on those who know the water best. Until they start panicking, it may be best to simply relax and, well, go with the flow.
In the Bible, we read of a night when even some of these seasoned sailors, those we would look to as the most seaworthy of folk – in this case, Jesus’ disciples, whose numbers included several professional fishermen – were unnerved and undone by stormy waters.
That evening, Jesus and the disciples went to sail across the Sea of Galilee, the large inland lake – roughly the size of Washington, D.C. - at the north end of what we know as the nation of Israel.
As they sailed, a storm arose and the seas quickly moved beyond choppy, as sheets of rain and monstrous waves threatened to swamp the boat and kill them all.
As the disciples panicked and feared for their lives, however, the Bible tells us Jesus simply slept in the back of the boat.
Finally, angered by the disciples’ fear and doubt, Jesus stands up and, at a word, the storm, which had raged so intensely a moment before, had disappeared, and the sea, made as still as glass. The disciples, the Bible tells us, were amazed.
But perhaps they should not have been.
As we sail on our life voyages, we, too, can encounter storms. On some days, and in some seasons, we can easily move from where we are to where we want to be, as the waters of life are smooth or, at worst, a bit choppy, maybe offering a flat tire here, a rough week at work or a silly fight with a spouse, a friend or one of our children.
But at other times, we know if can get much, much worse, as waves rise up, coming one after the other: Severe illness. Eviction. Job layoffs. Unexpected major debt. Divorce. Estrangement. Addiction. Children who reject God and their family. Death of loved ones. And still other unspeakable horrors.
In such times, we may tempted, as were the disciples, to wonder where Jesus went, and how He could not seem to care a wit for our fate.
Knowing the story of how Jesus calmed the waves and the winds, we, too, may look for Him to instantly end our suffering and restore our life’s waters to tranquility.
Yet in the Biblical story, we too often miss the central point: The disciples, who had seen Jesus do great and miraculous things at other times, seem to have forgotten who that was in the boat with them that night! They began looking at the waves, and listening to the wind, rather than focusing on The One who knew the situation best – The One who was so at peace, He could snooze contentedly in the back of the boat, even as the storm threatened to swamp it and seasoned sailors wailed in fear.
So it must not be with us. Just as God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, promising a Son who would be our Everlasting Father, our Mighty God and our Wonderful Counselor, He also promised a Son who we would call our Prince of Peace.
Today, no matter what is happening – even if you, as Pastor Bryan shared, are facing the “mother lode of storms” – know who it is that is in the boat with you. While He can calm the storm with a word – and He may – He also may simply ride with you through the storm, using these circumstances to show His Power in your life.
His name is Jesus. He is Lord. And He is your Prince of Peace, both now and for all time, The One promised us thousands of years ago, and whose coming was proclaimed by angels on a silent night hundreds of years later, when Grace Came.