Nervous Christians

The text tells the story of ten tired Christians who turned into ten nervous Christians in the twinkling of an eye.

The crowds who came to hear Jesus preach were large and sometimes difficult to handle. The disciples were exhausted and Jesus realized that it was time for a rest, so he said, “Get in the boat and we will go to the other side of the lake.” As they crossed the Sea of Galilee, a squall came up and the waves broke over the boat. The disciples who had lived by the sea knew that things were out of hand. Now they were not only tired, but helpless and nervous about whether or not they were going to drown.

I believe that one has to live by the ocean and know from personal experience how ugly it can be when there is a storm. I recall such an experience growing up on the Atlantic. It was not fun to be tossed about in a small fishing boat, even though the fishermen were well acquainted with the ocean and its treacherous waves.

While all of this was going on, Jesus was in the stern of the boat sleeping. One of the nervous disciples shouted, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” This got Jesus’ attention, so He addressed the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. When all was still he asked the disciples, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

The disciples had no answer for Jesus questions, but I believe they felt they had every right to be afraid. They were convinced their lives were in danger. However, the disciples were mystified when even the waves obeyed Him. It was a miracle. Since that day on the Sea of Galilee millions have asked, “Who is Jesus?”

This is a beautiful story that many of us became acquainted with as children in Sunday school, but it is far more than a story. It teaches us a lesson about walking through the storms of life.

Like the disciples, our lives go along without any major problems for a long time. Then something happens and our seas are rough. We are in the midst of a storm. There is that helpless feeling. It is at that time we pray, “Where are you, Lord?”

It was a cold winter night in 1969. My wife, two children, and I were at home enjoying an evening together after a busy week. The doorbell rang and I went off to see who was there. To my surprise, there stood our older daughter who was a student at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. She had a young man with her. His hair was long and he looked like a hippie of the Vietnam era.

“Natalie!” I said with a voice filled with emotion. “How did you get here?” She replied, “We hitchhiked, Dad.” She thought we would be delighted to see her and to meet Bob, they young man she had told us so much about in letters and visits. It didn’t take her long to learn that her father was not that happy about the visit, and had already given her the impression that he was not elated with the thoughtthat someday Bob might be his son-in-law. I was the tired Christian who became a nervous Christian in the twinkling of an eye.

With a gentle voice, Natalie asked, “May we come in? It’s cold out here.” I had become so excited that she and her boyfriend had not been invited into her own home. Bob told me later that the reception was pretty cold, and I am sure that after the weekend in our home, he might have had second thoughts about getting mixed up with our family. Thank God my wife made a good impression, and Bob felt he could put up with the old man to get better acquainted with his future mother-in-law who seemed kind and loving, and was not that concerned about his hair and dress.

My little boat was being tossed about on a mighty ocean. I was in the midst of a storm. How I loved that daughter! We had done so many things together. She was gifted and I was one proud father when she was the valedictorian of her class. She wanted to attend St. Olaf College, and we made that possible, but now I wondered what her future would be.

It didn’t take God long to show me how wrong I was. Once again He quieted the waves, and once more he said, this time to me, Have you no faith? Don’t you realize that Bob has been raised in a strong Christian home? He has been taught my Word. Leave those two young people alone. I will use their talents to touch the lives of many people. What does long hair have to do with a person’s relationship with God?

Today, I want to say the sea has been quieted. We could never have asked for a finer son-in-law. He has loved our daughter. He has been a very understanding father to his children. He and Natalie have quieted many nervous parents who brought their sick children to them for medical care. They are active in their congregation, have given their talents as pediatricians among the poor in Jamaica, and anticipate other experiences on our mission fields.

You, without a doubt, could tell similar stories. I think of a close friend who was a wealthy man. In a short time, he was financially broke. When his friends asked him how he could be so upbeat in the midst of a financial crisis, he assured them it was not easy, but he wanted them to know that he still possessed the Kingdom. He was sailing over rough waters, but Christ was in the boat with him. Again Christ quieted the waters. He has learned much since his financial disaster. Today, he is back in business not as wealthy, but very happy for he has a new understanding of God’s grace.

With this text, Jesus brings us an invitation. “Come and I will give you rest.” We will have our storms. It is a part of living. But as our little boats are being tossed to and fro, Jesus is in the boat with us. Those disciples were afraid and very nervous, but they knew where to turn in the storm. They ran to Jesus. “Help us, Lord!” was their plea. Did Jesus respond? You bet He did.

Now, let’s be careful. Jesus will not always quiet the storm, but He will sail through the storms with us. Peter, one of the disciples in the boat with Him, faced difficult days. He was thrown into prison for preaching that Christ is the Savior of the world. He was finally

martyred under Emperor Nero in about the year 64. Christ did not spare Peter, but He was his strength and comfort, and He met the apostle when Peter’s life was over, welcoming him to the eternal mansion.

Is that enough to fill our souls with peace? I think so, if we will but trust Him.