Keep Calm

Matthew 8:23-25 “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

Humanly speaking, it’s no surprise to find these men in this storm. This is the Sea of Galilee, after all. But maybe we are surprised to see this happen when they are traveling with Jesus.

Doesn’t the psalm promise us, “If you make the Most High your dwelling–even the Lord, who is my refuge–then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent”? How much more can you make the Lord your dwelling than to be literally following his Son around all day, eating where he eats, sleeping where he sleeps, listening to him teach and watching the example that he sets?

Even more, this boat trip across the lake was Jesus’ idea. He put these men in this position. “Then he (Jesus) got into the boat and his disciples followed him.” Would Jesus really lead me into danger, or into trouble?

The short and simple answer to that question is “Yes.” Just because you are traveling with Jesus doesn’t mean you won’t have storms. It may come as a surprise to some, but Jesus didn’t come into this world fix it. He didn’t even come to create safe zones for those who follow him. He didn’t magically fix the climate of Northern Galilee to prevent these sudden storms. He could have. He has the power. But that was not his mission. People died in incidents on the lake like this before he came, and they died after he left. Although the circumstances are different, in the last 10 years there have been at least two drownings on this same sea.

The same thing is true for almost everything we experience while we live here. Jesus did not come to make all the people treat each other nice. He preached love, that is true. But he wasn’t interested in forcing anyone to act that way. Change has to be sincere, from the heart. Just because you are traveling with Jesus on your journey through life doesn’t mean you won’t have some stormy relationships. Look at his. His countrymen persecuted him and eventually executed him. His friends abandoned him in his hour of need. The strain in your marriage, the tension with your coworkers or your manager or your classmates, may not be right. But they aren’t a surprise. It’s the way people are.

I could go on with examples like this for hours. Jesus did not come to give us perfect health, fix our broken politics, restore fairness and justice, or create favorable economic conditions. Traveling with Jesus on the journey of faith does not make us exempt from life’s storms. Utopian dreams for the world we live in now will all be crushed. They tend to become a form of idolatry.

But keep calm. Jesus may not fix our world, but he does rescue us from it. His death rescues us from sin. We are forgiven. His resurrection rescues us from death. We have eternal life. His Spirit rescues us from ourselves. We have faith and new love. When it serves his purposes, his power may even rescue us from physical dangers, as he does here. But keep calm. Jesus will rescue us when the time is right.

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