Who can escape the path of the storm?

This week was an anxious time for most of us. We watched and monitored a major hurricane as it moved into the Gulf of Mexico, then into the coast of Florida, and now we watch as the storm begins to impact our area. It’s been beautiful to see your concern for our community in these last few days, how you’ve called to check in with friends and family to offer help as we collectively batten down the hatches in preparation for whatever this storm may bring. Some of you have even offered to help in the aftermath of the storm by volunteering with Bulloch VOAD and other recovery agencies. Others have already donated to UMCOR to help bring relief and aid to the victims of this disaster—if you’d like to give to support relief here at the church you can do so by writing “Hurricane Relief” on the memo line of your check or online donation.

Natural disasters, like Hurricane Ian, are often so far away that we don’t even feel the impact. We see coverage online or on television, but rarely are we truly affected by these sorts of events.

Still, this anxious week has reminded me that we will all face storms and disasters in our life. Some of these will be literal storms, others will be a myriad of tragedies that afflict or befall us. We will all face moments when we feel like we are being blown over or swept away by the force of the circumstances we face. In those moments we realize how truly powerless we are to save ourselves, how desperate we are for rescue.

Weeks like these always seem to draw me back to Mark 4:35-41. There we find the Jesus and the disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee in the middle of a storm. It seems that even our Savior was subject to experiencing the power and the ferocity of life’s storms. But in this story, while the disciples are filled with fear and anxiety, we find Jesus asleep on a cushion. His disciples wake him by crying out, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus certainly does care. He rises, rebukes the wind and the waves saying “Quiet! Be still!” and asks his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples had forgotten who was in the boat with them. They had forgotten that it was Jesus, the son of God, who was with them. The one who could make the blind see and the lame walk, the one who not only controls the winds and the waves, but had a hand in fashioning them. Just as Jesus was with his disciples in the boat during the storm, Jesus is with us in every storm that life brings. Waiting to not only calm the wind and waves that buffet us, but to calm and quiet the anxiousness of our souls.

Friends, when you face life disasters, you never do it alone. Jesus is with you, the community of faith here at Pittman Park is with you, and together with Jesus amongst us we can make it through any storm.

God bless and stay safe,
Jonathan Smith
For Jesus. For People. For Community.