Some of you may remember the haunting song by Gordon Lightfoot entitled, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (1976). It is a ballad about an iron ore freighter sinking off of Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay on Nov. 10, 1975. All 29 crews member were lost in the midst of hurricane winds that caused 35′ waves. The last words from Captain Ernest McSorley were, “We are holding our own.”
I preached recently on Jesus walking on the water (Matt 14:22-33). Our nation is experiencing cultural storms while policy makers and cultural influencers tell us, “We are holding our own.” Meanwhile, the storm only seems to intensify. Are we aware of Jesus’ presence in the midst of the storm, confident he will help us navigate the treacherous waters? Be warned: we are in the midst of a cultural storm.
After feeding the five thousand, the crowd “intended to come and make him king by force, (John 6:35). Jesus made his disciples get into a boat to go across to the other side. Jesus didn’t want them overly influenced by “the dominant narrative” which, quite to the contrary, seems to imply, “we are holding our own.” That was simply a lie, perpetuated by arrogant voices who say, “We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips – who is our master?” (Ps 12:4 NIV).
Jesus then goes away alone to pray, because he knew his message was being misunderstood and misappropriated. The crowd saw Jesus as a political savior. The Good News of Jesus bringing His kingdom reign was overridden in favor of a political narrative. While seeking guidance from his Father, a dangerous storm develops on the Sea of Galilee, where the boat (with his disciples) was being, “buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it” (Matt. 14:24).
Jesus comes walking to them on the water between 3 and 6 in the morning. The disciples did not recognize Jesus. “‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear” (Matt. 14:26). Jesus tells them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Men, ask yourself, “How would I respond to seeing a man walking on the water?”
Is our trust in Jesus strong enough to weather the present storms? Or are we falling for a particular narrative? In another incident, during a storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus, “rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm” (Mark 4:39). Men, if Jesus can calm nature in its fury, he can handle the storms caused by “the dominant narrative” so they don’t overwhelm us. Why? Because he is Lord.
What do you think the twelve men in the boat learned about Jesus when he go back into the boat during the storm? This occurred after the disciples witnessed Peter getting out of the boat and beginning to sink. Jesus rescued him. “And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God” (Matt. 14:32-33). This is the first recorded instance that they worshipped Jesus as the Son of God.
It seems to me, the disciples learned a new trust in Jesus caring for them – regardless of the circumstances. Don’t believe the lie that “we are holding our own.” Put your trust in the One who actually can calm the turbulent waters of this world and your heart. One more note: Make sure you are in a boat with other believers. You cannot manage the storm alone.