Wednesday, May 20, 2009
"Master, Master, we are perishing!"
“Does anyone know where the love of God goes
when the waves turn the minutes to hours?”
Those lines are from a song by Gordon Lightfoot called “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” That ship was an bulk freighter in the Great Lakes which sank November 10,1975. I remember seeing that freighter the summer before its ill fated journey. My father used to take us on trips to the lakes to look at the ships which were docked around the shores of the lakes. It was huge indeed. It was assumed to be unsinkable and under normal circumstances that would have been the case. However, living in a sinful creation which is subjected to futility normal circumstance are at times rare.
Luke 8:22 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?” ESV
The above event records how the disciples of Jesus got into a boat to cross to the other side of the inland body of water. This had been done before many times with Jesus and as well by themselves out plying the fishing trade. What could be better? A cruise with your rabbi? Calm waters and smooth sailing with Jesus asleep in the back of the boat on a cushion. Jesus as our co pilot as the bumper sticker from years ago used to proclaim.
But then life turns ugly.
The formerly calm waters begin to churn. Waves lap over the sides of the boat. One can imagine in them minds of the disciples the memories of pulling bloated carcasses of fishermen out of the water after such a storm. There is, after all, the real possibility that they could be next. But then Jesus fixed it all. He said "shhh" to the storm like one may say to a tantrum throwing child. That is all it takes for the Creator of the universe to stop the storm. He calmed the water and wind and it was smooth sailing from that point on. It must have been quite a storm for these men had years of experience and were probably not easily shaken. But Jesus saved them and was surprised at the fear they had and lack of faith.
In a routine exam the doctor comes in with a concerned look on his face stating they have found something. This something may be nothing but he wants to refer you to a surgeon to go in and have a look round. After surgery it is reported there is a malignancy which they were able to get all of it. A sigh of relief. Later during an exam another something is found. Another trip to the surgeon who wants to go in for another look round. This time the something had to be left in and a course of chemical treatment is suggested. After that torture it is stated that the cancer has continued to spread and they are sorry nothing more can be done.
Early on a Sunday morning your doorbell rings. You open it to find two uniformed men at the door. They are policemen who are very sorry to inform you that your child was involved in an automobile crash. They apologize as they ask you to go to such and such hospital for identification purposes.
You come home from work and see your spouse sitting in a chair with a very sad expression on her face holding a piece of paper. On that paper you discover that your son or daughter has decided to not wait for marriage to move in with his or her fiancee. This same child who just a short while before was excited to participate in youth group activities and had spoken some of looking into full time work in the church or Christian day school. This same child who was taught the Christian faith from the time of being a wee infant. This child in whom was spent much resources both financial and time to ensure he or she knew who God is and who he or she is in Jesus.
The child of God at that point will possibly look back upon the disciples experience and how that Jesus saved them and wonder. "Jesus solved all those problems in scripture certainly he can solve this!" “Have we not dotted all the I s and crossed all the T s?” “ After all are not all our doctrinal ducks lined up in neat rows?” “Certainly, some of our well meaning friends say, God is trying to show you something in this.” “Master, Master we are perishing!”
We don’t have any promises in scripture that because we have faith in Jesus, and try to live lives pleasing to him, that these troubles will not befall us. Quite the contrary. He has not raised us above the movement downward and futility of this world of sin and misery. What we have are promises that he will see us through. Those disciples with the exception of one later went on to a martyrs death while proclaiming Jesus to those around them. This is special suffering which, like the child leaving home to live in sin with another, is special to those in Jesus. Storms, health deterioration, fatal accidents and family sorrows are common place events to all who live on earth.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ESV
We do have the certain promise that even when all seems lost Jesus will grant us faith so we may endure these times so that we do not fall back and in rebellious anger cast ourselves away from God into unbelief. The world, our sinful flesh and the devil are busy night and day to get us to deny our Lord but he has promised to maintain us. Jesus himself comes to us in the bread and wine of Holy Communion and forgives our sins and gives us new lives. The real danger is for us, in anger, forsake this gift and also the assurance we have in being baptized children of God. Yes our Lord stands there with crucified and resurrected arms to carry us through. Eventually he will carry us into eternity. We are baptized into his death. He has got us!
In the name of Jesus. Amen. †