Matthew 8:23-27 — Sometimes Life is Like Water-Skiing In a Thunderstorm: How Much Trust Do We Have In Our Father in Heaven?

Posted: November 7, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew
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Matthew 8:23-27
Jesus Calms the Storm
Picture if you will a 12 year-old boy on a slalom water ski being pulled behind his father’s boat. Back in my pre-teen and teenage years, this was Saturdays in the Summer. My best friend from those years, Donnie Garrison, and I would ski any chance we got. Just find my Dad or Donnie’s Dad and get the boat on the water. We became really good at it. Not professional but really good. No two skis for us. It was slalom all the way. Man, could we get air when we jump the wakes. Time of your life, huh, kid? We would ski for hours on end every Saturday. And the best part was coming back to our beach cove at Donnie’s property which was our base of operations on Saturdays. When we would come back from a run, Daddy would drop each of us off so that we could show off coming for a landing and see if we could make to shore without stopping and just hop off on land. Then, the next guy. Afterwards, Donnie and I would argue over who had the best run and the best landing. Great times.

Man, those memories come flooding back in HD picture quality when you allow yourself to think about them. The reason I bring up those summers of skiing every weekend on Lake Hartwell is that it brings back one memory as clear as day. Picture, if you will, my Dad pulling us along for another Saturday on the lake. This time we all decided so see how long we could take it. From the Garrison’s cove near Stone Creek Cove on Lake Hartwell down to the Hartwell dam is about a 7 mile ride by boat. It we could make it there and back, we would have slalomed 14 miles. If you have ever water skied, you know how much pressure slaloming puts on your lower back so this was an endurance test. Picture if you will, as we get down to the dam and get as close as we can before the roped off area in front of the main part of the dam, we make the turn to head home. As we look north back toward where we came from, we see a storm cloud approaching of fierce proportions. Picture if you will racing back to our home cove some 7 miles away by water. Picture if you will the heavens opening up and lightning flashing everywhere. Picture my Dad flooring the boat motor to get back to our cove as fast as possible. If he stopped it would take 10 minutes to get me and my friend Donnie and I back into the boat, pick up the skis and the ropes, and then to get back up to full speed. We had no time. Lake Hartwell was white-capping because of the storm. I was a great slalom skier back then, but this was work to stay upright. Lake Hartwell was like an ocean that day…deep pits between waves, white caps, wind blowing hard. Rain was hitting me hard and felt like little bee stings all over the front of my body. Add to that, we were getting tired from the long run. There was pain along the way that made me wonder if I was going to make it back to our home shore, but through it all though I trusted my Dad to get me back to our cove so I could drop the rope and slide into shore for a perfect landing!

That leads us to our Scripture passage for today. Let’s read:

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

There are three striking features in this passage. The first is that Jesus was sleeping during this furious storm. Why was he sleeping? The second thing is that fear had taken hold of the disciples that they did not think that would make it back to shore so much so that they cried out to Jesus. Finally, it is striking too that Jesus with a few words or less spoke and calmed the storm. The Scripture passage demonstrates to us that we must have faith to fully experience the power of God through His son, Jesus Christ.

The first point that I mentioned was that Jesus was sleeping through the storm. How could he sleep through a furious storm? Well, first off, Jesus was tired. Likely tired as any minister is after busy day of preaching, counseling, meetings, etc. Jesus was living his life in a human body so he got tired and needed sleep like the rest of us. Yet, in the midst of a raging storm, he continued to sleep. In his very core, He knew that He was secure. He had faith in the Heavenly Father to guide his human life through the storm. As I mentioned earlier, about water skiing through a torrential downpour, I had faith that my Dad was leading me to safety. Same here. Jesus knew His Heavenly Father was going to take care of him. Jesus also knew that he had the power of God at his hand. Jesus was living what he preached. Serenity in the face of the storm. Do we react to storms in this way? Do we have the serenity to allow us to have peace and comfort through the storms of life? Don’t you think too that Jesus’ sleeping through the storm was to see how his disciples would handle it? Often storms of life are not of our own making. Often storms of life are forced upon us. Storms being forced upon us can be a factory shutdown where we lose our job by no fault of our own. Storms can be an unwanted divorce. Storms can be a husband’s or wife’s affair. Storms can be an unplanned pregnancy. Storms of life can be the unexpected death of a loved one or a close friend. Storms of life can take many shapes and forms in our lives. Can we handle it as Jesus taught us? Can we trust that God will guide us through the storm such that we can find rest, peace in the storm?

The second point that is interesting is that the disciples were distraught to the point of fearing for their lives. These guys had been hanging around with Jesus for a while at this point, but yet at the first sign of trouble they were just like the rest of us. They forgot what they had been taught and were ready to give up. In my earlier illustration, you know that I could have easily let go of the rope and let myself drop into the rough waters and wait for my Dad to swing around and come get me out of the water. In a sense that would have been like giving up on what my Dad was trying to do – get us back to our cove as quickly as possible. Isn’t that what the disciples are doing here? Their fear of the storm overcame them. Their fear overcame their faith. They had little faith that they were going to make it through the storm. They feared that their expectations were not going to be met. In their humanness, they wanted the boat. They wanted the calm waters. They wanted to reach the other shore dry and none the worse for wear. They had little faith that even if they were tossed into the water that there was purpose in it. They did not have faith that God would see them through the storm whether it was in the boat or not. They got so distraught that they came to Jesus and woke him and asked him to save them lest they drown. Jesus reminds them that they should have had faith in Him. He asks them “why are you so afraid?” In other words, in today’s language, “Yo dudes, why are you so afraid…you got me right here…You know I got your back.” Isn’t that the way it is with us. We shout and scream at the storm for upsetting our personal plan for the way things should be. We work ourselves through our own choices, our own dependence on ourselves, that we ultimately get to the point that we cannot control our world anymore. We cry out to Jesus to save us from the storm. Jesus was there all along. We know of his power. We ignore the power that faith in Him can give us but yet we focus on ourselves and work our lives into a frenzy of seeking our own solutions. What happens when we come to the realization and come to the back of the boat and ask Jesus to save us from our storms? He is immediately available. He has been there all along. Why do we ignore Him? Why can’t we, from the beginning, go sit with Jesus in the back of the boat and know that He is there. Knowing that He is there will calm the storm in us and help us weather the storms of our own making or the storms that are forced upon us by others.

The final point that is interesting here is that with a couple of words the storms go away immediately. Jesus, in some translations of the Word, says, “Peace. Be Still!” And the heavens dried up and the clouds dissipated immediately at his command. The waters became calm immediately. This passage reminds me that Jesus is the Son of God. He had the full power of God. The elements of the earth obey his commands as He is their Maker. The disciples were astonished that the storm went away in an instant. Apparently, there was no gradual dissipation of the storm as we are often used to with storms. He said those few words and BAM! The storm was gone as if it had never existed. If Jesus and the disciples had lived their human lives in today’s world, the disciples would have said, “Whooooaaaa! Dude, did you see what He just did. It was like…. Then, he said, “Chill out!, to the storm”…and then it was like….whoa!” This Scripture passage points out that Jesus was truly the Son of God. He has control of the elements. He can control any storm. This gives me great confidence in my Savior. He can help me through anything. He can calm the storm in my life or he can calm the storm in my soul. He is my source of strength. He is my defender and my shield. As Philippians 4:12 says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation!” I know that no matter what situation or season of life that I find myself in, God is right there. He is in my boat. He leads me into the situations I need to be in. He leads me to greater dependence on Him when I trust Him. Just as I trusted my Dad to lead me back to our cove on Lake Hartwell without question. I knew my Dad was doing the right thing for me. I trusted that. When we trust God with the very fabric of our lives, He will lead us to where we need to be. He will bless us for having depended on Him. He will show us a happiness and joy we’ve never known on a human scale. Just as the disciples were in awe of His control of the physical elements of the world, we will be in awe of the changes that he will wrought in our lives.

Do you have the faith? Can you trust in Him? Can you let go of your control of your life? Can you give it all over to Him…not just the parts that are convenient to give up? Can you give it ALL up to him? Can we trust God with everything, every aspect of our lives? Our marriage? Our children? Our jobs? Our money? Our time, talents, and resources? Sure, God does not want us to ignore the storms of life. He gave us brains to plan and execute. In prayer, we seek His guidance on how to plan and execute, but bottom line is that we must learn to depend on Him for the way through the storm. Bottom line is that He will teach us things that we need to know in the storms. Bottom line is that in the storms we learn dependence on Him. How freeing is it when we trust in the Lord totally and completely. There is joy that comes from that. There is peace that comes from that. He’s always right there in the boat with us, guiding us, directing us, toward the safe shores of home. He’s got this! Let us trust that! Let us know that! Let us live that!

Amen and Amen.

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