If we would have held our usual Sunday worship service today, the gospel reading would have been Matthew 14:22-33. Guess what that is?
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Who knew how applicable these verses would be for us today? These are powerful Scriptures to read anytime, but especially as we are dealing with a tropical storm. The words point back to a time when the disciples were dealing with a large, scary storm, and they had tons of questions as they did. “What about the wind and these waves? Are we going to die? Is that a ghost coming our way? Why didn’t we see this coming? How did we get into this helpless situation? And when will this ever end?”
But did you notice something? Jesus had zero anxiety about any of it. He simply announced to his rattled disciples, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” What power there is in the simplicity of it all! Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid. And these words are eternally true. They aren’t relegated to one dark, scary night on the Sea of Galilee only.
That’s a great thing, because it’s not hard to come up with questions today. In our church, we have families whose houses have flooded in the past, and there’s a real threat it will happen again. We have other families whose houses are leaking, and there’s a chance it will get worse before it gets better. Any of us could have power flickering or power outage for an extended period of time. And we have some people who are expecting to give birth anytime and don’t have a simple solution for how to get to the hospital.
When your questions come, remember Jesus’ eternal words: “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.” It’s not like Jesus got washed away in either the Sea of Galilee storm or in Houston’s flooded streets like some helpless little branch. No. Jesus is present in the flooded streets and leaking homes. Jesus is present with our pregnant moms and their husbands and families. If the power goes out, Jesus will be right there as well. The impact of Jesus Christ our Lord spans much further than the circle of Harvey’s influence. And that influence will be just as effective tomorrow, and the next day, and always. Jesus is always ruling on his glorious, eternal throne. He is always brimming over with power and love, all to be used for the building up of his kingdom. It’s always true. It’s always going to be true, because Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
So take courage. Jesus is here. Don’t be afraid. There might be a few extra things to think about today, but there’s nothing to worry about.
Prayer: Gracious God, you alone rule the wind and the waves. You alone can promise that you are always present in any circumstance and time of trouble. Be with all of us today as we feel the impact of Harvey. Give us courage that can only come from your heart, and drive away all of our fears.
Above all, let your eternal Word resonate in our souls. Give us confidence and peace, wherever we go, whatever we do, and during every circumstance, as we ponder your Sea of Galilee announcement, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Amen.