Input sound file: Audio 09 16 2018 (1).mp3
I’d like to tell you a well-known story. In previous years, in the 1800s, there was a man by the name of Horatio Spafford. Horatio Spafford was a very successful lawyer in Chicago. He was the senior partner in his own law firm. Very, very wealthy. He and his wife, Anna, had a little boy, and he died in 1869. Back in those days, death was something that came sometimes very young. But they also had four daughters. In 1871, Horatio Spafford made a decision to invest most of his fortune into land on the shore of Lake Michigan around the Lincoln Park area. This was in the spring of 1871. About six months later, the Chicago fire happened and he was wiped out. Lost almost everything. This was a great stress on his family.
He decided, in 1873, that they should have a vacation. They decided to go to England. Horatio and Anna were good friends with evangelist D.L. Moody. And they thought they would come to England and tour and listen to the great preacher and evangelist. But at the last minute, some business problems prevented him from traveling with his wife and his four daughters. They got on this ship, [DeVille DeHavre?], and left for England. On November 22, 1873, the ship was struck by a three-masted iron clipper by the name of the [Loch Earn?]. Anna’s unconscious body was pulled from the ocean. Her four daughters did not survive. She sent a telegram to her husband, “Saved alone. What do I do?” Horatio tied up his business as quickly as he could, got on another boat, and began to move toward England.
The captain of the boat came and said to him, “As best as we can determine, sir, we will be over the area where you children died this evening.” The way the story goes, as they were passing over that area, Horatio wrote the words to him, but the words might have been in his mind before that moment, or they might have been written down later. But it is during that voyage that he wrote the words to this hymn, “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way that’s good, that’s serenity. When sorrows, like sea [billows?] roll, that’s not so good. Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say it is well. It is well with my soul. We’re going to sing that hymn later. [Last?] Saturday I tried as hard as I could, coming south on Kinmundy road after visiting Key Smith, to get over to Highway 37. And I went south without any trouble, but when I tried to go west, this is what I found. I drove through some water because if I could see the pavement, I knew that it wasn’t too deep. If I could see little spots of the pavement, I knew it wasn’t too deep. But you don’t ever want to drive in the water when you don’t know how deep it is. This is Quail Run Road. It’s where I finally gave up. Some of you have asked me where Quail Run Road is. I have to tell you, I’m not quite sure. I know it’s south of [Town T?] Road. I know it’s south of Edgewood Road. I know it’s down there. But this is where I gave up and decided that my best choice was to turn around and come home. It was Saturday night. It was about 6:30. It was time to come home.
Now here’s the thing about a storm, or the aftermath of a storm. You need to keep your footing. Because the danger of being flooded, the danger of running water– ask someone in the ambulance corps or a firefighter, they will tell you running-water rescue is one of the most dangerous rescues that are there. Why? Because you don’t understand how the pressure of the current– the minute it pulls your feet out from under you, you’re gone. Somebody might wonder, Quincy, Illinois. Lived there for nine years. It’s on the coast of the Mississippi River, beautiful Mississippi River. There is not one tourist thing on the Mississippi River at Quincy. You know why? Because the current goes right by the Illinois shore, and just a few feet underneath the surface, the current runs in a huge undertow. If you wade into the river on the Illinois side, it will suck you under. And will surface 20 miles or so later, after being underwater all that time. The problem with this sort of water is when you lose your footing. You need to watch your step. You need to plant your feet firmly or the storm can cause you to lose your balance. And once you’ve lost your balance, you can lose your life. Watch your step. 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 – Jesus – was asleep. Verse 25, “And they went and they woke him, saying, ‘Save, Lord. We are perishing.'” Now, these are fisherman. They are used to boats and they are used to storms and they are used to difficult days on the water but they came to the point in time to where they knew they were perishing and it was time for Jesus to stop sleeping. Here’s how Rembrandt drew the scene. Mark’s Gospel is a little more dramatic. In Mark, the disciples are described as coming back to say, “Teacher. Do you not care if we perish? Don’t you care?” Here’s the thing I think we should wonder. The waves are so high they’re breaking over the sides of the boat and threatening to fill it. I’m sure somebody’s working with the sails. I’m sure somebody’s working with the rudder. But I’ll bet every other disciple there is bailing. They’ve got little buckets or maybe just their hands and they’re bailing water. Why would you think they would go wake up Jesus? And there’s a very suspicious part of me, based on what they say later. I think they woke Jesus up to bail. Because there’s nothing in these words that would cause us to believe that they would understand what is going to happen next, what is going to happen when they wake Jesus up. So I think they woke him up to bail water.
But here’s what happens next. And he – Jesus – said to them, “Why are you afraid?” Well, it’s pretty obvious why they are afraid, don’t you think? “Why are you afraid, oh men of little faith?” Then he rose and he rebuked the winds, he spoke nasty to them, he rebuked the winds, he rebuked the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this? What sort of man is this that even winds and sea obey him?” You see, in Matthew chapter 28, the disciples are still figuring out who Jesus is. And this comes to them as a surprise. That’s why I think they woke him up to bail. But do you know who Jesus is? A leper comes and says, “If you want to, you can make me clean.” And Jesus says, “I want to.” Woomph. And he’s clean. The leper understood who he was. The centurion comes, we talked about that a couple of weeks ago. His servant is desperately ill. Jesus says, knowing that this is what people expected, “I will come and heal him.” And the centurion says, “No. You don’t even have to bother to come. I’m a centurion. I’m a military officer. When I give an order, it gets done.” On Star Trek, the captain says, “Make it so.” And the centurion stops him. “Lord, my house is not worthy for you to come under my roof. You don’t have to come. I understand who you are. All you have to do is give the order and it will be done.” Jesus said of all the people in Israel, he’s never seen faith like that. The centurion knew who Jesus was. And the disciples are beginning to learn who Jesus is.
Don’t forget when there is a storm going on, and there will always be a storm. When there is the flood, which is the aftermath of a storm, the aftermath of a hurricane, there will always be a flood. What’s important is that you are able to stand your ground. You are able to keep your feet no matter how the wind might beat against you, no matter how the water might try to push you, no matter how the water might try to push your feet out from under you and take over. You need to stand your ground and remember who you are. You are someone who follows Jesus. And he is the Lord over your storm. He is the Lord over what you’re dealing with. You may not be able to change it, but you need to stand your ground and give him time to work. On the other hand, sometimes you need to have the courage to do the thing that makes the difference. I know people who pray the serenity prayer all the time. They’re always praying for serenity for all these problems. But when it gets time to pray the part to where they’re going to do something, then they get real quiet because sometimes even if it’s only little tiny things that we can do, that’s when we lack the courage.
But I would like to tell you, I had the courage to back up the hill on Tonty Road hoping that no one would come flying over the hill. I had the courage to turn around. I had the wisdom to know better than to drive into that curve. Keep your feet in the storm. And the more storm would try to scare you, maintain your balance and remember who you are. This is a quote from marriage therapist David Schnarch. “Your willingness to tolerate pain,” struggle, inconvenience, whatever you want to call a storm. “Your willingness to tolerate pain for growth determines whether things change or not. It separates my successful couples from those who don’t do well. It’s not how many many problems they’ve had, how long they’ve had these problems, or how bad the problems have gotten. It’s whether they have meaningful endurance. When you’re in a storm, you have to endure. Meaningful endurance is the key to moving things forward because I think it expresses the faith that, as we move forward, the problem will in time resolve. No matter how long it’s been around, no matter how many problems they are, no matter how bad they’ve gotten, if we can maintain our balance, keep our feet, and give God time to work, it will change.
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say–” hey, that rhymes. But the words that Horatio Spafford wrote on that voyage did not rhyme because these are the words he wrote. “Whatever my lot, You have taught me to know–” to know. We’re all learning. “You have taught me to know it is well, it is well with my soul. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate.” And how does He look upon us from His own helpless estate? Christ knows how you feel when you feel helpless. “Christ hath regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul. It is well, it is well, it is well with my soul.”
Why? Because in the storm, you can take your stand and remind yourself of a fact, even though it might not seem true in the moment. Jesus is Lord over your storm. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, quite often we feel in a helpless estate. Few of us ever feel as helpless as You did on the cross. But, Lord, bad times do come to people. We do live and sometimes walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Help us in that storm. When it’s hard to remember, help us to remember, as the 23rd Psalm says, that when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with us. Your rod and your staff and, Lord, Your presence comforts us. Remind us, Lord, when things get hard, as they always will, that you are Lord over all the things that bother us and that you are Lord over the storm
The photo …
This post is based on the sermon “___” from the sermon series “___”
*date*, at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_2018.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.