“Perfect Peace in a Perfect Storm”
The Holy Gospel comes to us this morning from Mark the 4th chapter, beginning at the 35th verse.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Here ends the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ!
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
The artist went back to his studio, thought for several hours about peace, then went to his canvas and began to paint. When he was finished, there on the canvas was a beautiful picture of a mother, holding a sleeping baby in her arms, smiling lovingly at the child. He thought, surely, this is true peace, and hurried to give the picture to the wealthy man. But again, the wealthy an refused the painting and asked the painter to try again.
The artist returned again to his studio. He was discouraged, he was tired and he was disappointed. Anger swelled inside him, he felt the rejection of this wealthy man. Again, he thought, he even prayed for inspiration to paint a picture of true peace. Then, all of a sudden an idea came, he rushed to the canvas and began to paint as he had never painted before. When he finished, he hurried to the wealthy man.
He gave the painting to the man. He studied it carefully for several minutes. The artist held his breath. Then the wealthy man said, "Now this is a picture of true peace." He accepted the painting, paid the artist and everyone was happy.
And what was this picture of true peace?? The picture showed a stormy sea pounding against a cliff. The artist had captured the furry of the wind as it whipped black rain clouds which were laced with streaks of lightening. The sea was roaring in turmoil, waves churning, the dark sky filled with the power of the furious thunderstorm. And in the middle of the picture, under a cliff, the artist had painted a small bird, safe and dry in her nest snuggled safely in the rocks. The bird was at peace midst the storm that raged about her."
Peace, tranquility, calmness, these are the emotions which each we seek as we experience the storms of life. We long, we search for peace. We search for the quiet, the calm, the contentment as we experience the storms, the chaos, the uncertainties of life.
As we live with all the brokenness of sin, with all the tension of this sinful world, we cry out, we long for some peace to somehow insulate, or protect us from all the fury around us. We are very much like that wealthy man, searching, dreaming, wanting peace in the middle of the fury of life. We search, we long, for that peace. We even call out as the disciples did to Jesus in that sinking boat, we call out to God for peace, for comfort. We call out to God, wondering if He is around, wondering if He is sleeping while we are searching.
The question asked more often by human beings is always some variation on this theme,’Where are you, God?" Or "God, are you sleeping?" or "God, are you dead?" or God, do you hear me?" or "God, why don’t you answer me?"
And God’s answer, God’s only answer, God’s answer that we can only understand is this: "I am in the midst of you through the crucified Christ" Yes, I am here, I am with you as I was with my Son on the cross of Calvary."
Our Old Testament Lesson and our gospel lesson focus for us this morning on that question, "Where is God in the tumult of life?" Job asks that question of God as he is suffering, the disciples ask that question of Jesus as they are sinking with their boat into the Sea of Galilee.
"Don’t you care, aren’t you concerned with our plight, why am I suffering like this," are the questions which beg for an answer in our lessons this morning.
Jesus and the disciples were crossing the sea when a sudden storm broke upon them. The disciples became afraid as the wind blew, and the fury of the storm began to fill the boat with water. These were seasoned fishermen, they had experienced these kinds of storms before, but this one was different, it was worse than they had ever experienced. They used their skills, but still they were sinking.
Then in the middle of the storm, they thought about Jesus, where was he. He was in the stern of the boat sleeping on a pillow. Jesus had that sure confidence in the peace of God which allowed Him to sleep even though the storms of life, even this storm of the sea as it was raging all about him.
But the disciples didn’t have that peace, they were afraid, they wondered if Jesus even cared for them as they awoke Him with this question "Teacher, do you not care if we perish?"
They soon saw Jesus’ caring as He awoke and spoke to the wind and the sea saying: "Peace’ Be Still!"’ Then the sea calmed, the winds stopped there was peace.
Then Jesus asked the disciples a question: "Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?"
Jesus had peace, he was not afraid because He had faith in the Father to protect and provide for Him.
He wanted His disciples to have that same peace. A peace that knows that no matter what circumstances in life we may find ourselves, God is in control, so there is peace. Peace does come, peace is equal to faith in the power of God to control, to provide. The disciples saw the power of God in nature as Jesus calmed the storm. That same power is present in all circumstances of life. There is peace to life when we believe in and trust in the power of God to be with us, to guide us, to save us from all the storms of life.
The disciples were afraid because they could only see the storm, their eyes we fixed on that storm. It was difficult for them to have any peace when they were focused on the storm. The problem for the disciples and our problem is not the storms of life but where our attention is placed. It’s hard to see the Christ in the boat when our attention is riveted on the waves outside the boat. When our attention is so consumed by the storms of life so that we cannot see Christ, or turn to Him, or trust in Him, then there is no peace, no contentment, but only worry and despair.
For example: "A story from the days of sailing ships, tell about a ship caught in a sudden and severe storm. The passengers became panicky, rushing here and there as the waves beat upon the ship. There was fear and dread on the faces of all the passengers except one little boy, who remained calm and cheerful. When asked why he was so calm, he said,"Why should I be afraid? My father is at the helm." In order words, he was not afraid, because his father was in control..
So, too, with us we face the storms of life. We need not be afraid, or full of despair, because God, through His Son Jesus Christ, is in control. God is at the helm of life. We need to believe and trust in His power to guide our lives.
Job, in our first lesson, learned of this power of God to be in control of life as God encountered Job in the whirlwind. Job comes to God with his questions of why. Why did he have to suffer? Was there something he did wrong that he deserved this suffering? He came to God, he, in a sense challenged God with his questions.
And what does God do? He comes to Job in a whirlwind and God asks Job questions. God asks if Job had been present at the beginning of time, was Job present at creation, did he have a hand in creating the world? God asked Job if he was the one to control the seas, if he was the one who created the rain and clouds? God came to Job in all of His power and reminded Job of that power, reminded him that humankind cannot understand the mind or the workings of God.
The text doesn’t say Job’s reply, but if we read further we see that the only reply Job had was to fall on his knees in humble subjection. When he finally saw and encountered God, Job saw his own helplessness and lack of wisdom. Job remained faithful to God in all of his trials, but he never came to a point where he didn’t trust or believe in God’s power to deliver or save him.
So, with us, as we face the unanswered questions, as we face the whys, the how comes, as we face suffering, as we face the tragedies of life.
It is not that we disbelieve God’s ability to do anything to save. We all too frequently fail to trust the power He has. We come to God with our human condition of sin. We come to God with our inability to really understand God, so we give up. We question, we ask, we search, but we don’t wait for an answer.
"God calls us to faith, but we prefer to hope for miracles..
"Surely we say, "Our Creator, who supports the earth’s foundations, can arrest the storm in a moment. He has before; perhaps he will again."
But if our prayer is a one-dimensional request for a miraculous calm, we may let ourselves in for a large helping of disappointment and despair if God’s plan dictates some thing different from our request.
The prayer of faith will include a second dimension that God will help us, hear his voice in the storm. His voice which says loud and clear, I am with you, I am with you."
As Job found out, as the disciples found out the only answer to our questions about life comes with a simple but powerful answer, "I am with you, period."
That is all we need to know our God is with us as we face all the why questions of life.
Jesus said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Lord, Peace is not the absence of trouble but the presence of You. Let us be more aware of Your Presence in the now. We fix our eyes upon You Jesus, and rest as You calm our hearts and minds in the midst of whatever storm we are going through. In Jesus Name. Amen.
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The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission. Sermon written by Pastor Tim Zingale on June 19, 2006.
Peace, tranquility, calmness, these are the emotions which each we seek as we experience the storms of life.