This story is much loved because it is simple and it applies to each of us is so directly. Jesus got into a boat with his disciples, a storm came up, the disciples woke him, and Jesus calmed the storm. There are universal truths going beyond the literal story ~ the Lake is the sea of life, the storm are problems of any kind, the boat is our helplessness, and Jesus is still the Lord who is more amazing than we ever seem to fully grasp.
I also came to a different understanding of Jesus’ last question to the disciples. “Where is your faith?” he asks the disciples. Commonly this is thought of as a rebuke of the disciples, a put down for lacking faith. I am probably wrong, but I see it a little bit differently. We’ll get to that….
Make this story ALIVE ~ climb into the boat alongside the disciples and Jesus. Answer YES to the invitation to cross to the other side. The Lake is the sea of life. The storm is adversity of many kinds. The boat is our helplessness to overcome the problems. And Jesus is still the same Lord bringing peace in the storm. Let’s consider three things: the storm, the boat, the Lord.
The storm I love John Muir’s description of a storm that is now calm: “A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.”
No one willingly seeks a storm. When the disciples responded to the invitation to cross to the other side, they surely assumed the weather would be good. I’m told storms on Lake Gallilee are known for coming up suddenly because of the high peaks on every side and a tunnel effect of the weather. Similar, I suppose, to the Northeast Wind in the winter time funneling through the Frazier Valley from the Arctic into Whatcom County.
Problems can arise instantly. I received an e-mail from Al Guthrie about 8:00 on Monday night that his sister-in-law was in a coma and likely dying. I told him I’d see her in the morning. An hour and a half later I got a second e-mail. Caroline died. Rhonda Hill wrote some passionate and descriptive notes regarding Wayne’s death. The world changes so quickly. Crisis comes. Tension arises. The storm descends without warning.
There are many serious matters that many of you face. Storms are sudden. The doctor says, “I’m sorry to tell you, but you have cancer.” Or,“Your baby will not make it.” Or, “we have done all we could.” Storms arise so quickly on the world stage, another beheading, Isis on the March. More turmoil in Aftica. How will Israel respond to Iran getting closer to a nuclear weapon? Ebola spreading. Storms arise so quickly in our personal lives. Sudden changes. A loss of job. A need to move. Health scares. Tension. An investment you have made has gone sour and your life savings are gone.
Every age has it’s storms. I ran across an old old Advent Christian magazine dated January 1959 (before I was born). I was intrigued by a little editorial, “Fast Moving Events in Our World.” Listen to this paragraph…
The world is in turmoil, but maybe the greater issue for you is finding yourself thrust into a spiritual storm that quickly rose, like the Psalmist: “Out of the Depths I cry to you” (Ps. 130:1). You’re in an unexplained depression. I think of a pastor friend that confided in me years ago that he wasn’t sure he still loved his wife… He was facing a deep depression that had settled on him. He was in a violent spiritual storm.
Who of us has not known the storm? I love the description of the early church fathers, “The Dark Night of the Soul.” You life is manageable on calm days, but suddenly the waves of the sea violently tosses you. We know in our head no storm could last forever. The problem ~ we are overwhelmed. If the disciples had been on land, they could have had shelter and safety, but they were in a storm. No storm can last forever, but the question becomes,”Can I last longer than the storm, OR will the storm last longer than me?”
The Boat. The problem isn’t the storm if you have good shelter. I love a storm from the safety of my house. The problem is when The boat is swamped ~ Read Luke 8:23. The boat represents the feeling of being overwhelmed. A boat is not designed to be out in a storm. Or at least not a small boat. A few years ago when Caleb Carlson was stationed in Everette, Al took me and my family to see the U.S.S. Lincoln Aircraft Carrier. Now that boat could withstand just about any storm. But most boats, if the weather gets stormy, head to port. Boats are for calm days. And that describes our lives. When situations arise greater than our physical, emotional or spiritual capacity to handle, the boat represents our helplessness.
I love the way one person describes the situation for the disciples in Luke 8: “The disciples in that boat are doing everything and doing nothing. They are working harder than they’ve ever worked in their life. They’re bailing out water as fast as they can. The sweat is rolling off of them in the midst of the driving rain. They have never done more and they have never accomplished less. They are doing everything but accomplishing nothing. The disciples are physically strong. The problem is, their strength is trapped inside the boat and the boat is trapped inside the storm. They might say, “If we could just be on land,” as we have said many times in storms, “If I could just be someone else! If I could just be somewhere else.”
Our problem ~ when we are in the boat our cries for help cannot be heard. And if are heard, nobody can help us. Especially in my younger days of ministry you know how many times I wished it was my father facing the giants? Storms are among the most lonely places.
Marriage with storms are lonely places. Physical illness and tragedy is a lonely place because, while others try to reach out to us, we feel so alone. The disciples felt alone. Storms isolate. When you world is falling apart there are times you feel like you are screaming, and nobody hears, nobody hears. During the storm, we must learn, as did the disciples, that there is only one to whom we can go who hears us….
The Lord of the Storm. There’s humor in this story: Jesus is asleep. Sleeping peacefully. Sometimes when it is really bad we wonder if even the Lord cares.
I don’t think the disciples woke Jesus up to rebuke the storm. I think they woke Him because they were ticked off that they were doing all this work bailing water and He was sound asleep in the back of the boat. “Wake up, Jesus! Help us bail water.” It’s often the case that, when we go to Jesus with our problems, we present Him with a solution that is not His. Have you ever given the Lord orders about how to deal with a problem and He’s chosen to ignore you? When Sally and I broke down on the side of a freeway in S. California in 1984, about 15 miles from our new home/new school, no money, I’ve never been more uncertain what to do when I walked 1/4 mile to the nearest emergency phone only to find it dead ~ then, just as I got back to the car, up drove an angel, who in minutes whisked us off the Freeway to a gas station, the attendant instantly came, popped the hood, put in a court of transmission fluid, and we are on our way, costing us a $1.
Wake up Jesus, start bailing ~ but he speaks to the storm of our life and there is peace. The winds hear His voice. It would be great if every storm ended so quickly. The disciples wake the Lord up and He speaks and the storm ends. Sometimes I need that. I was in a tent in a ferocious wind on the glacier of Mt. Baker, ready to climb the next day. I’ll never forget the wind blowing the tent sideway across my sleeping bag. In an instant, the wind stopped, the tent popped upright, and it was over. The Lord imprinted on my mind once again that he is the Lord of the Storm. There are many examples in the Bible of storms ending differently ~ James dies, Paul is shipwrecked, Jeremiah is taken into exile… The storm may rage much longer in your life, but the outcome of peace is guaranteed… That’s what the Lord of the storm does. The Lord is always with you.
The Lord always speaks to us in the storm. Tell your storm how big your God is! The Lord ALWAYS speaks to us in the storm. The question: what do we hear? That has been the recurring theme through-out this chapter: READ Luke 8:8b, 10b, 18a, 21.
Your Response? After Jesus calms the storm, now he turns to the disciples, is the storm within still raging? Jesus can handle the physical storm, but he wants our cooperation to still the storm within. This is why Jesus says in Luke 8:25, “Where is your faith?” Most people seem to take this as a rebuke of the disciples, putting them down, as if they botched the test because they were afraid, because they’d been with Jesus and never really thought to trust in him, so he is scolding them, but that is not at all how I see it. “Where is your faith” is a real question, for the disciples to consider, for me to consider, for you to ponder. You’ve accepted the invitation of Jesus to go to the other side of the lake, an unexpected storm has risen up, you are helpless… where is your faith? It’s an open ended question only you can answer….
Up to this point in Luke 8 Jesus has been teaching about faith, the quality and character of faith. He is going to the common people, teaching about the Kingdom, describing how the soil needs to be broken up to become good soil to receive the word of God, shining bright, being open, going forward in your faith. At the end of last weeks scripture after he has challenged the people to go from being one of the crowd to becoming a member of the Family of God, he says this: READ Luke 8:21.
Following God is not just a good idea, it is believing and trusting God in daily life, relying on him to bring peace in the storms of life. The disciples have been listening and learning from Jesus, and now a storm comes up, he calms the storm and now he says, “Where is your faith?” The question is no longer centered on the storm, the focus becomes the Lord of the Storm. READ Luke 8:25b.
Lift up the name of Christ. Exhalt the Lord. Magnify Him. Tell your storm about the amazing and all powerful Lord Jesus Christ who brings peace to the storm. Amen.