What are the storms that rock your boat?


For Jonny – the money just isn’t there any more. He lost his job and he isn’t going to get another. They don’t need his skills now. He was already in debt before the redundancy and now its just got worse and worse. It didn’t help that he needs the drink for the stress, and he needs his bets on the horses to give him a purpose. But now he owes money on the rent. And the money lenders are knocking on the door. Fear? Jonny’s world is caving in.


So, what are the storms that rock your boat?


Susan is nursing another bruise. This time, it’s on her face, so she is telling everyone she’s in bed with flu, hoping she can keep up the pretence long enough for the bruise to fade. Her man is out at the Club, and she dreads him coming home to start all over again.


What are the storms that rock your boat?


Denise has just got back from the doctor at the hospital. The news wasn’t good. She’s trying to take it in, trying to work out what it all means. She doesn’t know how she’s going to tell her daughter Louise, who depends on her for minding the kids while she goes to work. What does it all mean – all those technical, medical words – which spell out the fact that she’s proper poorly and the treatment is as bad as the disease itself. And maybe she will die – she doesn’t want to think about that, but it’s the fear on her horizon.


What are the storms that rock your boat?


Ahmed is 10 years old. He lives in Gaza. He shows you the shrapnel wounds in his leg. The physical wounds are easiest to take in, but it is the psychological wounds that have cut deepest. Ahmed’s large dark eyes are frozen. He is utterly traumatized. He has seen more violence and killing than any child should ever experience. His uncle and grandfather were shot dead in his sight. And then his home was blown up. There is no safety now. His mother cries all the time. She is so tormented by the situation that she doesn’t have it in her to care for her children.


What are the storms that rock your boat?


So many people are in that little boat in the middle of the storm, terrified that they will be overwhelmed by the wind and the waves, certain that they will go under.


For Peter and the other disciples, that boat trip represented a crisis of vocation and a crisis of recognition who Jesus was among them. They were already struggling. Storms can blow up quickly on Lake Genneseret, and they are fierce. The world around them has suddenly become so dangerous. So they were working hard to keep afloat, working hard to keep above the immense fear. And they raise their eyes from the boat, and there is Jesus walking towards them through the night, through the wind, with the waves splashing high. It was like he was strolling along a country path while they were battling the elements.


Can you imagine the reaction from the disciples?

  • Is that Jesus?
  • He’s walking on the waves.
  • Can’t be Jesus.
  • Do you think it’s a ghost?
  • That’s all we need.
  • He makes it look so easy!
  • And we are struggling not to drown!


So who is it that walks on water? Not possible! Doesn’t happen! They can’t believe their own eyes. But then, you and I would struggle with that.


But Peter gets it. If Jesus can do that, so can we. Whatever Jesus can do, he calls us to take part. So he calls to Jesus: let me do that too! And Jesus says: just come. Peter gets out of the boat and the starts walking in trust, but then his head takes over and the fear floods in. This is so wrong! This is dangerous! I am so scared! And he starts sinking and has to call out to Jesus to save him. The fear gets in the way. Can you imagine what it would have been like to amble over the waves to Jesus? Well it didn’t happen.


So Jesus calls us. He wants us to do amazing things. But the fear gets in the way. The disciples are afraid when Jesus comes to them over the water, because it’s not normal. And he calms the storm, and that’s not normal, except for super-heroes in the comic books. So the disciples have to face up to the fact that Jesus is more than normal. Jesus walks on water because of who He is. Jesus calms the storm because of who he is.


So we have storms in our life, the things around us that terrify us. Mostly, we fear what is going on outside: our circumstances, our relationships, the violence we see around us. And fear can be justified. Oh yes! And it’s necessary to help people survive. But sometimes the fear grows from the inside. Sometimes our fear means we aren’t open to the help that is there.


When the storms rock your boat, when you are troubled and terrified, do you allow room for Jesus to walk towards you through the storm? When Jesus steps in, things change subtly, and start to come right. Not all in one go, necessarily, but the storm begins to settle and you get the water out of the boat, and it starts to head in the right direction. Jesus had spent the night praying, while the disciples sailed into choppy waters, and it was from his prayer that he came into the crisis and calmed the storm. So prayer is important. When you are in a crisis, pray! When things are bad, ask your friends to pray. It makes a difference. Give Jesus your fear. Give Jesus your troubles. And calmly he will walk in and give you the strength to make a difference, not just for yourselves, but for others too.