One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
Dear Friends in Christ,
Story #1 - Keep in mind that my parents were baptized into the Name of the Triune God at a young age. They trusted God with almost all of their hearts. They had lived through the Dust Bowl years and World War II with the help of their God. They appreciated and often counted their blessings. Their hope was in the God who had made heaven and earth. And yet on Friday and Saturday nights in the late 60’s their oldest son Curtis was out doing what 19 year olds did in those days – he was drinking beer and he was driving the 30 miles down to Clara City, South Dakota, maybe even buying some beer for other underage drinkers. And there was my mom on the couch crying and worrying and praying, in that order. In those evenings, she was trusting God with almost all of her heart, but she developed the habit of not going to bed until all of her kids were home safe and sound.
I can imagine dad saying to her, “Dorothy, why don’t you come to bed now, it doesn’t do anybody any good for you to get all worked.” To which she would have said very quietly, “Dad, I just can’t sleep.” To which he would have said, “I’m going to bed.”
I could imagine Jesus asking my mom, “Dorothy, where is your faith?” And I can her answering, “My faith is in you, Lord, but I’m just so restless and I love Curtis so much and it seems as though I should stay up and pray. And I can imagine Jesus answering, “Dorothy, I have loved your son before He was ever born. I love him even more than you do. I loved him with my very body and blood at the cross. I will love him all the way into eternity. Trust in my Father, and trust in me. You need your rest. Go to sleep now and please lay your head down in peace.
Story #1- Keep in mind that these disciples already knew that Jesus was all knowing and all powerful. They had already seen with their own eyes a dozen and maybe two dozen and more of their Master’s miracles. They knew that Jesus had been born of a virgin woman. They knew that He could change water into wine and they knew He could drive out demons and they knew he could tell paralyzed men to get up and walk and they would. They knew he could cure lepers of leprosy and they knew he could tell a man with a withered hand to stretch it out and it would be healed. And even more than that, they had seen him interrupt a funeral processional in the little town of Nain. Jesus had left them speechless as He told a sobbing widow to quit crying. He proceeded to tell the dead man to get up out of that coffin, and he got up out of that coffin and began to speak.
Now with all of that in mind and so much more, think about why Jesus would intentionally take his disciples into a boat and then fall asleep and then have them meet up with a storm. Not just a little spring squall, but an overwhelming kind of a storm with hurricane force winds and waves crashing over the sides of the boat and watch as the disciples do everything they can do and they worry and they pray and they get ready to die and finally they wake up Jesus and ask him if he even cares that they’re all gonna die!
Jesus rebukes the wind and then turns to the sea and says, “Be quiet. Put a muzzle on it.” And I wonder if Jesus had a twinkle in His eye when He asked, “Where is your faith? I can imagine them saying, “Oh my goodness, Jesus, our faith is in you, but why do you mess with us like that? We were going down and you’re sleeping, for heaven’s sake! And then Jesus saying, “It was for heaven’s sake that I was messing with you. We’re going to go through worse than this, and I want you ready. We’re going to go through nastier storms than this and I want you never forget that I’m the one who laid the foundations of the earth in the first place. Do not doubt me on this. I’m the one who created the winds and the waves in the first place, and more than that, I have loved you men with an everlasting love and I will love you at the cross with my very body and blood and I will love you all the way into the gates of heaven. I want to get you to the point where you can be calm not only after the storm but before and during.
Story #3 - The kingdom of God is like a man named Harry who works hard and he plays hard and he sleeps hard. Keep in mind that Harry had been baptized as a little boy and he had heard from his mother’s knee that Jesus loved him and that the Bible was entirely true. He believed in God, He really did with almost all of his heart and soul and mind. He tells himself that he happiest when he is putting in long hours and making lots of money and getting ahead in life. By getting ahead, he means that his house is getting paid for and his retirement years will be provided for and oh my goodness the years yet to come he is planning for them to be golden. Some days he feels like something is missing, but his favorite reaction to that is to put in some over time and every once in a while he gets to make a double payment on his house and oh how he loves to manicure his lawn and have his cars clean and shiny. One day out of the clear blue sky, he thought he heard God whisper in his ear, “Where is your faith?”
To which Harry said, “Why, my faith is in you dear Lord. Why would you ask me such a question? Where is your happiness? Well, my happiness is in you Lord. Pretty much anyway. Why are you messing with me like this, Lord? You know I work hard and I pay my bills and I’m a good person. You know that I feel I’m very blessed and I love life. I really do. Are you really happy? Well, life isn’t perfect, but as soon as I get my house paid for and the day is coming when we will retire and then life is going to be really good. Yeah, life is going to be really good someday. And then what? Well, I suppose life will be really good and then I suppose one day my wife and I will maybe get sick, but I’m sure we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. And then what? I don’t know. I suppose one of us will die and that will be really hard, but I think we’ll be ok. What do you mean by “I think we’ll be ok.” Hey God, it’s been chatting, and I really do need to get my lawn mowed, and hey have you heard that song that says, “God is great, beer is good, and women are crazy?” Actually, I think it says that people are crazy. Harry, can I ask a favor of you? Yes. Could you maybe sit still once a day or so and just know that I am God and you are not.
Story #4 - The kingdom of God is like a beautiful young lady who loves her Lord and she loves her family and she loves her life and she loves to be healthy! Keep in mind that she knows so many people who are so less fortunate than she is. That her heart is as grateful as it can be and she almost always takes time to pray and to praise and to give thanks. She runs and she trains and she is attractive and she is faithful and she cares deeply about her neighbors, especially those in need. One week, she doesn’t feel very good and the next week it’s a bit worse and three months after that she has enough symptoms to get her into her doctor. And as weeks of testing turn into a full-fledged storm of cancer washing over her body, she goes again and again to her Lord in prayer. She has so many questions for her Lord, but in so many of her days, she finds God to be silent. She begins to wonder if God has forgotten her. Worse yet, maybe He is punishing her. One day she says it out loud, “Lord, don’t you care that I am dying?” To which He responds, “Where is your faith?”
Lord, you know that I believe in you. Where else would I go for the words of eternal life? Where else would I turn for refuge and strength? Why does this storm have to be so nasty? What should I be doing? Just stay close to me. Sometimes I choose to calm the storm. Always I want to hold you close. Sometimes I will love you with smooth sailing. Other times I will love you by taking you right into the eye of the storm. Sometimes it will seem as if I am sleeping. That’s my way of messing with you, or to say it another way, to get and to keep your attention. Always know that I have loved you before the world ever came to be. I loved you at the cross with my very body and blood. I intend you love you through thick and through thin, for better and for worse, in sickness and in health.
Story #5 – The kingdom of God is like a father who trusts in His Savior and at the same time He trusts in himself. At the same time he counts his blessings and wonders why he so cursed. In the same hour he resolves to be a better dad and throws up his hands and says, “I’m done trying.” Sunday after Sunday, he says amen to the absolution and most Monday mornings he feels like a failure and a flop. As the years fly by, he has developed the habit of taking one step forward and two backwards. Some days he stays calm under pressure and some days he’s a jerk. But whether he has remained calm during the storm or only after the storm had passed, this he remembers every night as he lays himself down to sleep – my help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters