And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 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. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:23-27
Years ago, when I was serving as bishop in Southern Virginia, one of my seminarians took us out for an afternoon on the water. He was a great host, making us lunch and touring us around so that we could see dolphins and other sea creatures. It was a beautiful, warm summer day and the water was calm and the sun was brilliant. All of the sudden a storm starting moving in and we had to hustle back to the dock, miles away. It was a very anxious little while, as Fred masterfully steered the craft back to safe harbor. As we got towards the dock the rain and wind hit hard. He was worried that his bishop would be upset, but I offered to help and he pressed me into service. We prayed hard and I got us tied up with his help. We laughed about it when it was all done, but we also recognized in that moment how fragile and tenuous life is and how much we rely on God for everything.
Jesus is asleep while a storm rages. The disciples wake Jesus because they are afraid for their lives. It is a very real, human fear, when everything around us looks bleak and we are about to go down. He chides them for their lack of faith and then shows them how able he is to control even the wind and the waves. God, within him, worked to provide safety and calm to the terrified disciples. And God, working within and around us, is still ready and able to provide calm and safety in the midst of all life's storms. We are never alone even in the bleakest hours of fear and terror. God is with us.
Today, I ask God to increase my faith, so that in every storm and squall, I might call upon God and trust that calm and safety are present in every circumstance. I pray that we can all be faithful followers, in our terrors and storms, knowing God is with us in our tiny boats, our fragile existences and our humble isolated places. God is with us, and we, who know we are never alone are simply asked to be agents of love and safety, of safe harbor and hope for those who have been lost in the storms of life.