He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm (Luke 8:24b).
In April of 2021 I joined with a few others to do a prayer walk on our Hecktown Road property. At the time, before construction had started, we did this every Wednesday at noon. The prayer walk was brief – just thirty minutes of walking the property, offering the place to God’s purposes, giving thanks for the grace and faithfulness that had allowed us to acquire this land for a new church home.
Anyone who came was welcome to stay as long as they wished. On this particular April day, no one stayed very long.
I don’t know if the weather that came our way that afternoon can officially be called a storm. I don’t recall how bad (or not bad) it was. But there’s no question that the sky over where I stood was threatening. Something was about to happen. And whatever it was looked ominous.
After just a few minutes we were all back in our cars.
Two Storm Stories
Storms figure prominently in the biblical story. We’re only six chapters into Genesis before we get the great flood. Much later, the final chapters of Acts recount Paul’s journey to Rome and the powerful storm that wrecks the ship on the island of Malta. These storm stories come to us as actual weather events, but the bible isn’t merely reporting the weather. The meaning of these storms is rich and multilayered.
This week as we continue exploring the mission of Jesus in the gospel of Luke, we come to two storm stories that Luke places side by side. As he does this, we’re invited to see that storms come to us in different ways.
Luke’s first story shows a storm that rages around us, an external event that threatens us. For Jesus’ disciples, this was a storm at sea, a tumult of wind and wavs that threatened to sink their boat. Such storms might come to us as a financial crisis, a contentious and bitter divorce, the loss of a job. In some places in the world, the storm is war or persecution.
Luke’s second story shows us a storm that rages within the human soul. In the region of the Gerasenes, Jesus encounters a man who is tormented and ravaged by the demons that have a grip on him. This man dwells in a solitary place. He cannot be subdued. Mark adds that he continually shrieks, cutting himself with stones.
The common element in both storms is Jesus. In each, the presence and power of Jesus brings peace.
Storms Will Pass
I want to begin this week’s reflections by simply asking you to name the storm that’s looming over your life right now.
You could be in the middle of a tempest right now.
Or maybe, like a dark thick cloud, you sense something coming your way.
In her message this past Sunday, Marnie leaned in on two words: fear and control. Our storms easily evoke our fears. Sometimes those fears control us – or as we seek to manage our fears, we try to control the storm.
There’s a wonderful line in Psalm 57:1. “In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by” (ESV). I can’t help but notice that the storms are plural. We often live through more than one.
Whatever it might be, we don’t manage or control a storm. And walking with Jesus, living by faith in him, will not give us immunity from the storms that life can bring. But the storms we deal with will pass by. And until they do, we take refuge in Jesus.
So for today, name the storm. Name the dark cloud that your anxious and frantic actions won’t budge.
And be assured that the presence and power of Jesus is with you until that storm passes by.
Gracious God, we’ll do whatever it takes to avoid a storm. And what we cannot seem to avoid, we will work feverishly to manage. The hardest thing for us to do when the tempest rages around or within us is to trust you. As we name our storms today, we ask you to be present to us by your Spirit. We will take refuge in the shadow if your wings, confident that Jesus walks with us in every storm. We pray this in his name. Amen.