July 27, 2019

July 27, 2019

July 27, 2019
Luke 8:22-25
by Ralph Skinner
Laity of Middlebrook Pike UMC (Knoxville, TN)
Tennessee Valley District

Jesus Calms the Storm

As I write tonight, East Tennessee and some of our Holston Conference area are being hit by a string of thunderstorms and heavy rains.  Storm after storm is coming through, and as day turns to night, we wonder what things will be like when dawn comes.

No doubt the experienced fishermen in the boat did all they could before rousing the sleeping Jesus. Having spent their previous adult lives fishing on the Sea of Galilee, this would not have been their first storm. But finally, they realize that this time, things really are beyond their control. And that’s the key isn’t it? I mean that’s the moment fear really kicks in – when we realize that we are out of control. That’s when we too become desperate. As long as we can fix it, as long as we are in control, we can keep fear at arm’s length. But, when we are out of control... when the flood waters rise in our neighborhood... when the stock market is plunging, along with our retirement funds... when an unexpected tragedy lands at our door... when a relationship we counted on falls apart... when the doctor says we’ve done all we can do. In those moments – whether we say the words or not – we too feel the desperation of the disciples. Master, master, we are perishing!

And that is also the moment when faith is needed. Think about it. As long as we can manage things ourselves, as long as our resources and skills are equal to the task, as long as we are in control, we don’t really need faith – other than faith in ourselves. We only need faith in something beyond ourselves when the need is beyond our abilities, the storm out of our control. That is when the question presents itself and demands an honest answer, Where is my faith?

So, the storm that threatened the disciples on the Sea of Galilee that day was real. And the storms that threaten us today are real, too. But there are other storms swirling about right now that are every bit as real. Financial storms, physical storms, relational storms and yes, spiritual storms. At one point or another, everyone has reason to be afraid. Which means, Beloved, we all have a need for faith.

You see, faith really is the antidote for fear. Now it will not eliminate fear. Fear is one more of those things that overtakes us – like all emotions. Fear just rises up in us like anger or joy. We can’t stop fear. In fact, we don’t want to stop our ability to feel fear. Like all emotions, God gives us the ability to feel fear for a reason. Fear is a warning sign. When we feel fear, we need to pause and take note of our circumstances, consider carefully our actions, and usually we need to make some kind of change. We don’t want to stop fear but we do want to be able to respond to fear in a positive and helpful way. Faith can help us do that because – once fear appears, well faith is the antidote that can counteract it and enable us to behave in right ways, smart ways, and yes, faithful ways even in the midst of our fear. We all need faith because we all experience fear, and faith is the antidote for fear.

Prayer:  Gracious God, as the storms of life are ragin’ give us the faith, courage, and strength to trust in your wonderful grace!  We love you!!  Amen.