Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January 23, 2009 Following

READ: Matthew 8:18-27
18 Now when Jesus saw a great crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side.
19 And a scribe came up and said to him, Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.
20 And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.
21 Another of the disciples said to him, Lord, let me first go and bury my father.
22 And Jesus said to him, Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.
24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.
25 And they went and woke him, saying, Save us, Lord; we are perishing.
26 And he said to them, Why are you afraid, O you of little faith? Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
27 And the men marveled, saying, What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?

The story of the disciples in the boat is a classic bit that should really trouble us a lot. I don't know about you, but in my world verse 24 ought to read, "And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves, and he was in the back with a bucket helping the disciples out." But it doesn't. And verse 27 ought to read "What sort of man is this, that he can sleep in the middle of a great storm?"

Taking the thought that Jesus could possibly stay asleep in the middle of a raging storm at sea aside, I'm with the disciples on this one. I want my Lord to be ever at the alert, ever ready to spring to my defense when I'm in danger. I think he should be like one of those Christian art paintings of an avenging angelic being, wings unfurled, a drawn sword in his hand and a shield in the other, turning this way and that to ward off any foe. That's who Jesus should be in my world.

But it isn't my world. It is his. I don't get to decide how Jesus will help, what form his love will take. I can't even second-guess the reason Jesus may have had for sleeping at that particular moment. It would be convenient to say, "If he hadn't been asleep, the disciples would have missed a great lesson." But we don't know that. If he'd been awake bailing the story could have ended the same. They might still have come to him and said, "We're about to go under. Won't you do something?" And he might still have rebuked the wind and the waves.

There are a lot of avenues God might use to answer a prayer. It wasn't until the disciples were safe on shore that they could be sure God had saved them from harm. What they knew in the moment was that the experience had increased their trust in Jesus as the Christ.

"Oh, God, Thy sea is so great and my boat is so small."
-- Breton Fisherman's Prayer

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