IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR STORM, WHERE IS JESUS?

storm

 

 

 

To listen to the sermon, click the play button:

To download, right click on the link (or do whatever you do on a Mac) and save it to your computer: Download Matthew Part 28

 

Matthew #28 . Matthew 8:23-27

I want to do something different this week. If you normally read this, rather than listening, I want to strongly encourage you to take a little extra time this session, and listen to the sermon, instead of reading it. I also want to encourage you to listen at a time when you can be alone and undisturbed. Basically, rather than teaching about this passage, what I want to do is lead you in a meditation on it. It will help you enter in to the meditation if you can close your eyes and visualize with your imagination, just following the meditation part along with your ears.

To listen to the sermon, click the play button:

To download, right click on the link (or do whatever you do on a Mac) and save it to your computer: Download Matthew Part 28

I am going to provide a written version as well, because I know that some of our blog followers don’t have an internet connection that allows them to stream audio, and others may want to translate this into other languages. But for the rest of you who are still reading, I encourage you to stop, and click on the play button instead. If you insist on reading, please take time to pause and visualize, and then also pause and listen to how the Lord speaks to you.

There are many different ways we can internalize and absorb what God wants to say to us through the Bible. My default approach is to try to understand it thoroughly, and then “listen” for how the Holy Spirit wants to apply it to my life right now. Another way is to memorize portions that seem particularly important to you at this point in your life. Still one more approach, very useful for narrative parts of the bible, is to use your imagination, to put yourself right into the sights and sounds and smells of what is happening in a text. That is what I want us to do, today.

You are one of Jesus’ disciples. The last few days have been both thrilling and exhausting. He preached this awesome, thought-provoking, paradigm-busting sermon up on the ridge just south of Capernaum. Then when he came back to town, the circus started. He healed a leper. Then he healed some guy from a distance – you just heard about that one a few hours ago – a friend of yours who does chores for the Roman garrison heard that the servant of the centurion who talked with Jesus was healed while the officer was talking with him. Then the world went crazy, with crowds of people coming to be healed, and people getting more and more excited all the time. It’s hot and there are people pressing all around you for a chance to look at Jesus, or maybe feel his healing touch. It’s almost a relief to hear that Jesus wants to get away, across the lake the for a while.

Finally, Jesus finishes with the last sick person, and giving him a big smile, turns to you and the others, hops in the boat and says, “Let’s go!”

You never did travel much by boat until you started following Jesus. Peter and James and their brothers were all fisherman, so they are used to it, but it’s still a unique feeling for you – a little exciting, and a little scary too, since you don’t know how to swim. Once you start moving, the breeze across the water is incredibly refreshing, and you feel yourself relaxing. There are hours to go with nothing to do. After talking for a while, Jesus stretches out near the bow. He must be exhausted, after days of giving his full attention to hundreds of people each day. You don’t blame him when you notice he has dozed off.

Now you are a long way from shore. You look around nervously, but Peter, James and the other fisherman seem pretty relaxed, so you sigh and let go. You can smell the fresh water, mixed with the slight scent of fish, but it isn’t unpleasant. You turn and talk with some of the others for a while, wondering what Jesus will do next, and what it might mean for your lives.

Now you are almost in the exact middle of the lake – several miles from shore in any direction. You realize that the breeze has become stronger, without you really noticing. The boat leans over as the wind pushes harder against the sails. Quite suddenly, the sky darkens. John says something sharply to James, while Peter and Andrew scramble to their feet and start doing something with the ropes that hold the sails. They are experienced sailors, you think. They’ll handle whatever it is.

But whatever it is, turns out to be too big. A violent gust pushes the boat far over to the side, and it seems to last forever. The other men are shouting and Peter and Andrew are still trying to fix it with the ropes, and it looks like the boat is going to be turned all way over when with a flat cracking sound, the sail rips right down the middle; in a matter of minutes the wind has torn it to shreds. John shouts something about not being able to steer without any sail, and that is when you notice that the little vessel is starting to heave and buck like a young camel. A big cold wall of spray blasts you in the face. With no way to steer, you can tell that the boat is wallowing sideways and the waves, getting bigger all the time, are now starting to come over the gunwale of the boat. The wind is so loud that people have to shout to be heard. Nathaniel hands you a bucket, and says something you can’t hear.

“What?” You shout.

“Bail!” He shouts back. “Use this to scoop the water out of the boat.”

You jump to it, driven by a sudden surge of adrenaline and fear. For a minute, it looks like you and the other bailers are making progress, and then a big wave pours over the side, and just like that, the vessel is half-full, riding low, a sitting duck for one or two more waves to put it under. Some of the men are madly paddling with oars, trying to position the boat bow-on to the waves in the vain hope of preventing more waves of coming over like that. The others are bailing with all their strength. The wind is screaming across the dark sky, unbound ropes are whipping wildly in the air and the waves heave higher and higher as the boat sinks lower and lower.

And you can’t swim.

Your relaxing afternoon has become a nightmare. This looks like the end. And then the thought comes to you: Where is Jesus?

Where is Jesus indeed?

You glance around, expecting to see him bailing, or maybe helping Peter with the ropes, or paddling. But in between heaving water out of the boat as you bounce up and down like a cork, you notice a dim shape, still stretched out near the front. Jesus is still with you, but it looks like he is asleep.

“Jesus!” you call. “Jesus!” The others hear you, and they start shouting too. James is already in the bow, and he turns with amazement, noticing for the first time that Jesus is there. He drops the rope he is holding and shakes Jesus awake with both hands.

“We’re about to go under! Is there anything you can do?”

Jesus stands up, swaying and balancing with the insane rhythm of the waves, surveying the wild storm and the mad activity of all of you trying to save yourselves. Incredibly, while you watch, he throws his arms open to the wind and laughs.

“Why are you afraid?” he calls in a big booming voice that penetrates the roaring wind. “Don’t you trust me?” Then, in a different voice, he says, “Enough. Be still.”

You are thrown off balance because the next big wave you expected never appears or shakes the boat. The wind fades back into a gentle breeze. In a matter of minutes you are able to empty the boat of most of the water, while the fishermen hoist a new sail. Everything is calm and peaceful again, and you are safe.

Now, keep yourself in the middle of this story. But while you are there in the boat with Jesus, I want you to think about some things. What is the storm you are in right now? What threatens you? What howls around you like the wind? What do you fear like the deep water that will swallow you up and drown you? What security seems about to crumble and disappear like the boat beneath you? What loneliness or hopelessness pulls at you, threatening to suck you under the dark water? Pause and think about this. Be honest with yourself.

Now, ask yourself this: where is Jesus in all this? Have you forgotten that he is right there with you in the middle of it?

Does it seem like he’s gone? You know he won’t desert you, but maybe it seems like he’s…asleep. Go ahead and wake him up. Draw his attention to the storm. Now, how does he respond to your storm? What does he say to the storm? Pause and listen.

And then, what does he say to you? Again, pause, and listen.

To the disciples he said: “Why are you afraid, you of little trust?” What does that mean to you, in your situation right now?

Listen to His voice right now.

Thanks again for making use of Clear Bible.

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Thank for your prayers, and your support!

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