(June 24, 2018)
“Small Craft Advisory”
(Psalm 107, 1-3, 23-32, Mark 4:35-41)
The disciples find themselves in a bit of a spot this morning. Encountering a fierce storm, they wonder why Jesus continues to snooze as they cry-out for deliverance. Of course, Jesus does awake from his slumber to address their fears by calming the water and quieting the wind. This is how we would like our prayers, answered, right? When facing our own trials, we want dramatic delivery. And yet, we must admit, it doesn’t seem as if our prayers are always answered this way. C. S. Lewis, famous author and defender of the Christian faith experienced this in his own life. After losing his precious wife to cancer, Lewis felt as if his prayers were going unanswered. From his book “A Grief Observed” Lewis offers: “But go to God when your need is desperate, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and after that, silence.”
Psalm 107 also features people in need of deliverance from a life-threatening storm. The psalmist illustrates a dramatic answer to prayer (v. 29: “He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed.”) Again, this is how we want our prayers answer, right? Dramatic, immediate solutions to our storms. And yet….
I offer these scripture passage for you to consider this morning: “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). And, “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47). It seems we’re being reminded that God chose the nation of Israel to bring God’s presence to humanity, and later created the church as a conduit for grace and mercy in God’s name. Perhaps too often we are looking for loud, dramatic answers to prayer, when often God speaks to us in small, seemingly ordinary ways.
I am reminded of a story shared with me by a retired fisherman living in Washington County. He had ventured-out early one morning on calm seas. Yet by mid-day he found himself in the midst of a ferocious storm. He began to wonder if he would make it back to shore safely. Then he remembered his grandson had given him a toy compass the night before. He reached into his pocket, and there it was. He used that small, ordinary compass to guide him back safely to shore and the love of his family.
I am like that small, ordinary compass. So are you. So is the church. You, me, we together as the church-even though we may seem to be rather ordinary, are used as conduits for the presence of God. Believe it or not, God answers prayers through us as we share love and ministry with each other, our community, and our world in sometimes very simple ways. This is what C. S. Lewis eventually found out. It seemed God was absent, but over time, he discovered that God was with him in more ordinary, simple ways. Through conversations with friends, through the written word, through nature and music.
If you are here today seeking an answer to prayer, let me remind you that you may indeed experience an answer through a lightning bolt or thunderclap experience. But let me also remind you that you are surrounded by people who love you, are walking alongside of you. And while we may seem ordinary to you, it seems God answers prayers through the people of the church, and in other unexpected ways as well. God’s faithfulness is revealed in majestic ways, and through still small voices. I am thankful for that.