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July 31, 2020

I went out that afternoon to go deer hunting. I was in a valley, in an enclosed ground blind, overlooking a creek with a nice warm breeze blowing. Nothing much was happening. A couple of squirrels playing. A bird once in a while. It was peaceful and quiet. I had been there for an hour or so when I noticed the wind picking up and the trees on the ridge where rocking pretty strong. Then I dozed off…
“There are two distinct episodes in the Gospels that involve Jesus, and storms on the Sea of Galilee. In one story, Jesus was in the boat with the disciples, napping, exhausted, when the storm arose. None of them wanted to bother him, but as the storm intensified, they became frightened. Finally, they woke Jesus, crying, ‘Lord, help us! We’re going to drown!’ Sometimes I wonder what they expected him to do. Man an oar? Help with sail? Whatever it was, it is clear that they were not expecting him to do what he did. Jesus ‘got up and gave orders to the winds and the lake, and there was a great calm’ (Matthew 8:26). Can you imagine what that must have been like? In awe, the disciples said to one another, ‘Who is this that even the wind and the waves obey him?’ But the fisherman among them had a clue. There were certain verses from the Psalms that fishermen clung to when the storms came up: Psalms 65:7, 89:9, and 107:25. Each note that God calms the storms at sea. The disciples were beginning to see that their teacher was no ordinary man!
The second of the storm accounts at sea took place at night. And in this story, Jesus was not in the boat with the disciples. As evening approached, he told them to take the boat and head back to the other side of the lake without him. Normally, it might take an hour for a little boat to cross from one side of the lake to the other (at its widest, the Sea of Galilee is eight miles from east to west). But as the sun set that evening, the winds picked up and shifted. Soon the waves were washing over the bow of the boat, tossing it to and fro. It was in the midst of the disciples’ struggle that Jesus came to them, climbed into the boat with them, and calmed the wind and the waves. The story was not told merely to entertain, or to teach us what Jesus did so long ago. It was intended to teach us that Jesus alco comes to us in the midst of our storms.
As Jesus approached their boat, walking on the water, they cried out in fear, thinking that he was a ghost. In Mark and John’s accounts, Jesus climbs into the boat, and the storm immediately calms. I love this image! When you invite Jesus into the boat with you, the storms of fear and anxiety begin to subside. Matthew adds one detail to the story that Mark and John leave out. While the storm was raging and Jesus was approaching, Simon Peter shouted the most preposterous thing: ‘If it is really you, Jesus, walking on the water, bid me to join you.’ Had Peter lost his mind? What kind of request was this? Jesus bade Peter to step out of the boat and join him in the sea. You no doubt know the story. Many of us learned it as children.
Peter stepped out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Jesus. Remarkable! Then a strong wind came up, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, and he began to sink. He cried out to Jesus, who rescued him. They both climbed into the boat, and the storm subsided.
Why does Matthew include this part of the story? I think it’s because he wants us to see that if we focus on the storms instead of the Lord, fear will take us down. But I think he also wants us to know that at times, Jesus invites you to step out of what’s safe, comfortable, and easy, to join him on the seas, where the real action is. Why do they do it? Because they sense Jesus calling them to stop outside their comfort zone. Jesus is in the boat with you. Trust him: it’s going to be okay; he’s more powerful than the storms. But don’t miss this: sometimes he’s going to call you to get out of the boat, leaving your comfort zone, taking a risk while keeping your eyes focused on him. And that’s where the real adventure begins.” (Adam Hamilton, Living Unafraid)
I had a good nap and as I woke up, I noticed somethings different. The water in the creek had risen, there were limbs and trees down and all around me it looked like a war zone. A storm had come through and I had slept right through it. I decided to head back to the house and walked to my ATV and there was a small tree across it and had to clear or go around several trees across the path back. I was amazed that I had slept through this storm and that I was safe.
I think so many times we want to sleep through the storms but that doesn’t happen. We get anxious and we worry, and Jesus says: “Settle down, I will get you through!” I know if I had been awake, I would have been fretting about whether I should stay hunkered down or head back to the house. So many times, we do focus on the storm and we need to focus on the Lord for strength and peace. I close with this prayer from Adam Hamilton: “Lord, help me remember that you are with me in the storms. But also help me hear your call when you bid me to step out of the boat and join you on the water. Help me to keep my eyes fixed o

About Rev. Bud Budzinski

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