Even the winds and waves!
The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
There are many ways of reflecting on and interpreting the Scriptures. One of the more interesting methods is the way that the New Testament writers take the stories of the Old Testament and reinterpret them in a new context.
So, for example, the words and actions of King David which had a particular impact in his time are focused on Jesus as the Messiah.
In other cases, the stories are used as metaphors by the writer. The story is used to bring meaning to a completely different situation, a situation it never originally referred to. Today, I want to see in this story about Jesus in the storm as a metaphor for our lives. In other words, the storm on the Sea of Galilee is a metaphor for the storms that we face.
All of us have faced storms in our lives. Some of our storms are real life-challenging changes and conflicts which threaten to destroy the equilibrium of our lives.
Let me give you a couple of examples. Two years ago, I used to ride to the Great Little Place, three mornings a week. I enjoyed the coffee and I enjoyed the company. They owner and his wife were planning to sell the café and set themselves up for a comfortable retirement. Then his wife was diagnosed with an aggressive bowel cancer. On Friday I met him up at the hospital, in the pharmacy, while his wife was having yet another scan. He told me of his journey into deeper and even deeper depression. He doesn’t know how to face lunch let alone think about which doctor they have to meet next week.
Then there is another kind of storm. In 2007, when the Global Financial Crisis hit the USA, millions of Americans lost their homes and businesses as banks crashed and foreclosed. In Australia, we were relatively unscathed; except that I know of at least two pastors who were on the verge of retirement when the value of their superannuation dropped by almost 50% overnight.
Every time a student faces an exam, or a test, or a project, an enormous storm brews and for some students it means they are frozen by what they are facing.
How often does a disagreement at home or work become a storm? Then there is a broken-down car. Even facing retirement is no less than facing an approaching storm, for some.
Then there is another type of storm. It is a storm which exists within. It occurs whenever our calmness and equilibrium are destroyed by panic.
What storms have you faced recently?
Facing the Storm
When we are confronted by our storms we often react in the same manner as the disciples. Their first reaction was to question Jesus, “Don’t you care that we are going to die?” There is so much loaded into this question. Their experience of Jesus, the compassion and care he showered on people in need, should have made this question redundant.
He clearly does care; but taking risks with Jesus and trusting him when it was difficult to see the end of the storm was still very difficult for them, as it often is for us. There was also still some uncertainty about just how far the power and authority of Jesus reached.
How could Jesus remain so calm?
In part, this was because of his trust in God’s love for him. In part this calmness was the response of the Son of God whose power reaches lovingly into our world, for us. He could calm the winds.
When this was all over, the disciples were in awe of what Jesus actually did, and what it reveals about the extent of his power and love. The power of Jesus to control the wind was a revelation which was no more significant than the power that he had over sickness and demons.
But when Jesus asks the question, “Do you still have no faith?” He is also showing us that the real danger is not the winds and the waves it is what my fears say about my trust in God. The real storm is happening within me.
Jesus says to me, “Trust me! Calm your fears! The storm ahead is within my care. Allow me to settle the waters.”
One of the critical characteristics of Jesus, at all the significant moments in his life, was his calmness in the face of the wind and the waves. He was confident that the Father would reach in and show his love. God would calm the storm.