This Week’s Focus: Jesus Calms a Storm
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?
The Hubbel Space Telescope is as much a spiritual blessing as it is a scientific breakthrough. For the scientific community it is a window into the workings of a universe far greater than ever anticipated. For the Christian community it is all that and more. It is an awesome demonstration of the power of God who presides over an infinite and expanding universe, yet in his love cares about our every thought, word and action.
Look at the images captured by Hubbel and then think: the God who set these cosmic storms in motion billions of years ago, the God who calmed the stormy Sea of Galilee two thousand years ago, cares infinitely about the storms that rage within you and me today. No one makes a passage through this life without storms. And if they are not perilous in actuality, our pride has the ability to create tempests in tea pots, magnifying petty fears, creating turmoil from minor or imagined slights.
There was nothing minor or imagined about the storms that rolled over Horatio Spafford. The Chicago fire destroyed his family fortune. His four daughters, aged five to eleven, were lost at sea. His wife was driven mad by grief. He was a prime candidate for despair and who could blame him? But Spafford lived in Christ and Christ in him. Traversing the same stretch of ocean that claimed his children, he wrote as he prayed:
When peace, like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hath taught me to say,
It is well; it is well with my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part but in whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul.
Spafford went on to literally walk in the footsteps of Christ. He took his recovering wife to the Holy Land and, like Job, they started their family anew. Together they served the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities of Palestine with orphanages, soup kitchens and hospitals. In tragedy they clung to Christ and in triumph he bore them home.
In today’s gospel the frightened followers asked: Who is this. Even the wind and the waves obey him. They would soon learn the answer. The Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer, God made flesh had come among them. And all the storms or all the plots, the might of Rome or the gates of hell…none would ever prevail against him or those who cling to him. No astronomer’s telescope or psychiatrists couch has ever found a storm that could not be calmed by the love of Jesus. His peace awaits us… a prayer away.
God love you!
Image: He, Qi. Peace Be Still, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=46102 [retrieved June 21, 2012].