Saturday, August 20, 2011

Storm Surge

Book Give Away August 31: Reply, Comment, or post to enter. You choose which of my books you want: A Still and Quiet Soul: Embracing Contentment, The Stained Glass Pickup (devotional), or A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

The boat rocked as waves slapped its wooden hull, and the men on board lunged with the craft, stances unsteady. Streaks of electricity split charcoal skies, and the men knew that it would take only one direct hit to the boat mast and they were going down. They might go down anyway because the small craft was nearly full of lake water.  

Beyond the boaters’ control, the stormy night had also spewed water into the hull. If a massive wave came along, no human strength could stop the boat from capsizing. Casting nets. Mending nets. Filleting fish – all that they could manage, but the roiling lake was beyond their control. The storm grabbed the fishermen’s imaginations and took them on a spin of terror.

The men clung to the boat’s rigging, hoping for the storm to abate, but the storm didn’t go away. Instead, their reasons for alarm increased when what seemed to be a ghost appeared above the water surface. They wanted the approaching phantom to disappear. Blinking water from their eyes, shaking their heads trying to clear their senses, they tried to banish the ghost from their vision.

Still, the supposed apparition didn’t go away, but instead drew closer and closer and finally spoke to them in a familiar voice -- the voice of Jesus. His soothing voice offered the first notion of hope when two words buoyed their spirits, “Take courage.”

 His presence and words seemed to say, “I’m here now. Cheer up. I’ve got enough courage to go around, and besides all that, watch as I control the fury of this storm.” After identifying himself to his disciples, Jesus again urged them “Don’t be afraid.” Then he simply climbed into their boat, and “the wind died down,” and they were completely amazed (Mark 6:50-51).

When the disciples thought they saw a ghost, they despaired even further. False spirits are at the root of creating doubts and fear, and fear over-clouds hope. Longtime preacher Charles Hodge says, “Fear is the darkroom where negativity is developed.”

In any coastal area, the term “storm surge” applies to the times that seawater takes up temporary residence on productive landmasses. Life can also resemble a coastline, and storm surges can arrive at any time, due to a bad health report, loss of a job, or trying relationships. Knowing that storm surges recede gives birth to hope.

Lyle Arakaki of Hawaii says that because of the time difference between the continental U.S, the NFL Monday Night Football game is actually played in mid-afternoon, but the local TV station delays broadcasting the taped game until 6:30 p. m.

Mr. Arakaki says that when his favorite team plays he’s too excited to wait until the television showing so he listens to the game, finds out the results and then watches the game in the evening. He said that influences how he views the game. When he sees his team fumble or throw an interception, it’s not a problem because he knows the outcome. During such times, he says to himself, “That’s bad, but it’s okay. In the end, we’ll win.”

When storms surge and we’re trying to find a plank to float on, it makes a difference when we know the outcome of all our troubles on this earth. The psalmist declared that when he cried out to God that God made him “bold and stouthearted” (138:3).

No matter what rumblings lurk in your near future, take a deep breath and exhale it in prayer. Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow says, “Take courage from me.” In addition, one of his specialties is climbing into rocking boats and calming storms.

Index card verse for week 33: “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him” (Luke 8:25).

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