We enjoy our homes. We try to make them as comfortable as we can. They are a place of rest and security. I weep when I see the pictures of refugees returning to their homes in the middle east that are nothing by rubble. Or pictures of a California family standing before a pile of ashes that was once their home. This is devastating. One cannot minimize the heartache of such families as they try to rebuild homes and lives. But there must be something more, something that gives strength now, and hope to move forward. Psalm 91 says “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Our true place of rest can’t be in the earthly structures we build. We have learned, all too often, how transient and vulnerable they are. Our strength, our hope, our rest, is only in the One who came among us, and who supports us in all of our times and needs.
Here on the eastern coast of the U.S. storm warnings are out for hurricane Joaquin’s approach. I got an e-mail this morning with tips about preparing the home in case of high winds and flooding. The coastal regions of our country have learned to do this pretty well, having experienced numerous storms before. Preparation is a part of life whether it is for an upcoming social event, a school presentation, a doctors visit, or any number of other things. Preparation is also a part of our spiritual life. We take seriously the truth that one day we will stand in the presence of Almighty God. It will happen just as assuredly as the storm coming our way. We also realize that we are totally unworthy for such a meeting. There is only one means of preparation for this meeting, and that is through our Lord Jesus Christ. “It is by grace that you have been saved, and that not of yourselves. It is a gift of God.” So spoke Paul to the Ephesian Church.(2:8) God has graciously reach out to us in the storm of life with His redeeming hand. By faith in our Lord Jesus we are prepared, and we strengthen that preparation each day by growing in our relationship with Him.
Where are our eyes? The Gospel lesson this past Sunday was from Matthew 14. Jesus came to the disciples on the storm tossed Galilean lake. He called to His men who were struggling and afraid in the fishing boat. The text says that Peter got out of the boat and began to walk toward the Lord on the water.(vs.29) When Jesus invited Peter to come to Him, He didn’t first still the storm. In the midst of the storm He simply said, “Come”. As long as Peter’s eyes were on Jesus he continued to walk forward. When his eyes fell from Jesus to the raging sea he began to sink. We face many storms in life, and they just don’t go away. That is the nature of our fallen world. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul tells of a serious problem he had. He writes, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(II C.12:8-9) Paul found that strength, as did Peter, because their eyes were on the Lord Jesus. No part of life is ever going to be exactly the way we want it. Yet, our strength is not in the smooth going, it is in our Lord who walks with us whether the seas are stormy or calm. That’s where our eyes need to be.
This time the weather man was right. He said we were in the path of a 6 to 12 inch snow storm. It’s at least 12 here and still coming down. The meteorologists take their measurements of temperature, pressure, air flow patterns, current activity to the west and south, etc., then make their computer models and predictions. We’ve gotten a lot more sophisticated, but weather prediction has been going on for thousands of years. Jesus remarked to the Pharisees, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.'” (Matthew 16:2-3) But then He followed this by saying, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” I think much the same can be said about us. Observing our world we should clearly see that we are not where God desires for people He created. This should bring us to deep repentance before our Lord. It is even more foolish of us to ignore God’s Word than a weather forecaster’s storm warning.