Most of us are conditioned to check the weather conditions each morning when we get up and frequently each night before going to bed. We do so because we want to know how the weather is going to affect our day and the plans we’ve made. For many reasons it is important for us to know what the weather is going to be like whether we’re traveling to work, going on a picnic, or making vacation plans.
Here in the northeast we get some dramatic weather, but we don’t typically get the devastating thunderstorms and destructive tornados of the mid-west. But we do get an occasional blizzard or hurricane. Even as I write we are watching the weather reports to see if tropical storm ‘Arthur’ is going to become a hurricane as it moves up the east coast. Will it affect us or not?
There are times when stormy winds and waves blow on all us! Some times those winds come suddenly and are soon gone. At other times stormy winds are like a good ole’ nor’easter” and the winds seem to blows for days on end with clouds and rain or snow.
The stormy winds of weather can be like the stormy winds of life when they converge on us. At those times it’s good to step back or to get away from the problems to gain perspective and to find emotional rest and rest for the soul and body. In those personal stormy times a wise person will make time to be alone with the Lord! Even Jesus needed time to be alone with His Father!
Several weeks ago on Sunday morning, we met the disciples of Jesus in the middle of The Sea of Galilee, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a powerful storm. They had been rowing for hours against strong winds and waves making little or no progress. Jesus had sent them on their journey to the opposite side of the sea while He spent private time alone with His Father. When He had been renewed in spirit He joined His disciples between 3:00 am and 6:00 pm. But He didn’t come to them in a boat. He came to them walking on the water. The title of the sermon that morning was, The Sinking of HMS Peter (HMS meaning, His Masters Servant). When the disciples saw Him they thought He was a ghost. With the hope that the figure coming toward them was Jesus who was calling out to them, Take heart; it is I! Peter shouts back, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
Peter wasn’t sure the voice he was hearing was actually that of Jesus. In the howling storm winds, the deafening sounds of the turbulent sea and the blowing spray in his eyes, it wasn’t easy to know who it was or even to know what it was he thought he was seeing.
I think that’s the way it is with us at times when the stormy winds converge against us. When the affairs of life; the problems we face; the decisions we have to make; the people we live with and work with, and sometimes the people we worship with cause us pain and confusion. At those times, just like Peter, it can become difficult for us to see Jesus clearly, or to hear Him speak to us through His Word or in our prayers.
But it was Jesus, Peter was seeing and hearing. Jesus is always there with us when the stormy winds converge against us. And as well, He is there with us on the brightest sunny days. He’s there for us just like He was for Peter. He’s there calling us with the same one word invitation He used to call Peter. Come! That’s the word. And, that’s what Peter did. He got out of the boat and walked to Jesus on the water, until he realized where he was, and then he began to sink. But on the way down into the water, in the blink of an eye, he looked up at Jesus and cried out Save Me! And Jesus did! And Jesus will save us when we cry out to Him in the midst of our storms. When the howling winds, the deafening sounds of the turbulent sea, and the blowing spray in our eyes, make it hard to keep our eyes fixed on Him.
How perilous life becomes when we take our eyes off Jesus and loose ourselves somewhere in the distracting confusion that stormy winds bring. It’s amazing how easy it is to be blown off course when our eyes are not fixed on Jesus.
When we stop to think about it, and to think beyond our own private storms, we quickly come face to face with the convergent stormy winds of political and religious wars blowing hard around the world. And we come face toface with the winds of hurricane strength blowing across our country from The Oval Office. Winds blowing hard at the foundations of who we are as Americans; winds stirring unrest and division among the people; foul winds blowing in cultural, social, and moral corruption; stormy winds strong enough to blow along with them those who are weak in character and in faith. Our faith is not fixed on fallen and sinful men dead in their trespasses and sins. Our faith is firmly anchored in Christ and our eyes are fixed on Him. He is our strength and our refuge! He is our peace in the midst of the most vile and violent storms!
And when they (Jesus and Peter) got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are The Son of God.” (Matthew 14:32-33)
May we learn from our Lord, Jesus, how to live quiet, peaceful and Godly lives in the midst of these complex and stormy days. Let’s be sure to keep our eyes on Jesus! And make sure that we are in the boat with Him.