We start with Mark’s iconic story of the boat on troubled waters. Jesus and some followers were in a small vessel that got caught in a bad storm. Amid the threat of the vessel being destroyed, Jesus was awakened from his nap on a cushion in the boat’s stern. Alerted to the danger, Jesus halted the winds and waves to the point of a profound calm. All turned out well despite the fear and apparent lack of faith among the terrified crew.
As usual, there are lessons that we may draw from this story of taming the angry elements. One jewel is that we need to stay calm amid life’s stormy seas. Otherwise, if the wind and waves don’t get us then our fears may themselves sweep us away. We need to trust God that no matter what the earth hurls, our souls are secure. Another bit of wisdom is that when things do get bad we can call upon God to bring us to a better place. Remain calm and carry on? Sure. Even more so, we need to remain faithful and expect God’s favor.
Okay, so in every situation we won’t necessarily find Jesus curled up on a cushion in our ship of state. However, the idea is that we can call upon God to rescue us when we’re in peril. God is always with us in Spirit if not in body. Yes, I know it sounds so neat and simple and life is rarely so tidy and easy. Nonetheless, we persevere and trust in God’s character. This is true faith.
We’re also back in 2 Corinthians this week. Goodness, Paul certainly had his hands full with this church in Corinth, Greece. I mean, this was at least the second time he had written them. The issue is Paul’s encouragement for the Corinthians to accept God’s salvation–now. Time is of the essence!
Have you ever delayed something that you knew you shouldn’t? Well, in this case there’s more than just putting off the unpleasant trip to the dentist. We can interpret Paul as saying that there’s nothing in the way, no excuse for the Corinthians to further delay action. What was it that the Corinthians were supposed to do? It seems that they were taking too long to trust God. Paul had spent much effort to shepherd these Greek folks but they were delaying with their eyes wide shut.
Paul had previously written the Corinthians and shared the glory of God’s greatness. There were no more legit reasons why the Corinthians should avoid fulfilling their joy. Paul even provided an impressive list of horrible situations that he and his associates had not only endured but wherein there was victory. Beatings, prison, hunger . . . you name it. In all these hardships, Paul encourages the Corinthians to taste the victory even when things go terribly wrong.
Finally, Paul wanted the Corinthians to open their hearts to the true, powerful message of transformation (which is salvation). Apparently the Corinthians had been too restrained. They were lax in love and didn’t sense any urgency to do otherwise. The Corinthians did not sufficiently accept or share God’s love. Some reluctance of the Corinthians kept them from realizing God’s full power and blessings.
Sadly, the reluctance of the Corinthians can still be passed down, to us, in today’s church. As we go through life and encounter waves and wind we may ignore the power of faith. No matter what we endure—sickness or sadness, problems or persecutions—God is with us. So it is that we can succumb to a defeatist attitude during tough times. In this way, we’re no different than those ancient Corinthians. As always, we can let ourselves be dragged down by our old, fallen nature.
As we examine ourselves, do we find a similar slowness and reluctance in responding to God’s Spirit? Could it be that we, like those Corinthians of old, fail to reach full joy? In this manner, Paul still speaks to us. His words remind us that there are no arbitrary limits to the love God wants us to receive and share. There is no speed limit on how fast we can go if and when we live in God’s kingdom. Yes, even with life’s troubled waters we can call upon God to increase our faith and help us overcome disaster. Are you ready to move beyond your challenges and failures to a place of calm in God’s loving care? –Reverend Hoxey