Several years ago, two young men went fishing for muskellunge (commonly called muskie) at the beautiful Clear Fork Reservoir near Lexington, Ohio. As their fishing trip began, the boat’s battery was well charged, and there were plenty of delicious snacks filling the cooler for the day. The young men were hoping to troll for a trophy fish, and in their minds’ eyes both had visions of a state record Muskie hanging over their fireplace mantle. Their expectations were very high.
People who live in Ohio know what it means to experience amazing and terrifying changes in the weather, and on that day, that is exactly what occurred. After a few short hours, the pleasant sun filled day had transformed into dark rolling clouds; a fierce storm hurling lightning flashes, thunder clappers, and howling winds struck with a vengeance. Peace and pleasure had transformed into problems and peril.
The motor, that at one time purred briskly along, now groaned to make very little progress back to the docks against the elements. The battery for the motor on the boat was by now nearly dead, and the boat was rapidly filling with both rain water and water from the waves that crashed over the boat’s hull. There were no fish, no fun, but plenty of fear and frustration to go around. Over a short couple of hours the focus of the young men had gone from friendship, fun and fishing to fear and frustration.
Jesus was very accustomed to being on a boat, and He even chose multiple fishermen to be His disciples. In Jesus’ sermon on the Mount, recorded in gospel of Matthew chapter 6 verses 25-34, Jesus teaches: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than what you put on? ”
It is easy to forget Jesus’ instructions. The disciples did. Just a few chapters later, in Matthew 8:23-27 we read “Now when He (Jesus) got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest (storm) arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He (Jesus) was asleep. Then the disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
But He (Jesus) said to them (the disciples) “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then Jesus arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”
We are often like the disciples. We worry. In the storms of life, it is easy, even common to forget Jesus’ instructions. “Fear not.”
Jesus’ instruction is applicable for today. He still calls us to “Fear not” and to live a life defined by loving God and loving our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). In so many ways, when our thoughts are consumed with fear, we are incapable of true freedom. Don’t be a prisoner of fear. Fear is a cruel master. Christ calls us to not be a slave to fear, but to be a part of God’s family to whom He gives life and freedom. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
Just like the storm on the lake taught the young men valuable life lessons, God uses the storms of life to teach each of us to trust Him more. He is very trustworthy, and He is protector, provider, and rescuer. I pray that you will be like the Fisherman Apostle Peter who in the midst of another storm, got out of His boat and ran to Jesus! May you be filled with courage as you focus on Jesus through society’s and life’s storms. Peace be with you all.