Monthly Archives: January 2020

Trusting God in High Winds

“He awakened, rebuked the wind and the waves, and they subsided and there was calm.” (Luke 8:24)

We may recall the story when Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. A furious squall came up with waves breaking over the boat. The disciples woke Jesus who was sleeping, exclaiming that they were going to drown. Jesus rebukes the wind and the raging waters. The disciples were seized with amazement and fear, asking one another, “Who then is this, who commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25)

A few years ago, a friend and I went out on the Potomac River south of Washington,     D. C. Our intention was to go down river a few miles to a crab house, but the wind became so strong that we could not dock safely, so we decided to return to the marina. The Potomac widens to about three miles in this area so the wind has room to kick up.  Our boat is a cruiser with a flying bridge and a canvas Bimini on top, so there is sufficient bulk for the wind to impact the steerage of the boat. My friend, Bud, an experienced sailor, estimated the wind at 35 to 40 miles per hour with white caps everywhere.

I said to Bud that we needed to start praying because the wind would hit us broadside as soon as we started to turn into the alleyway of the marina, causing us to crash into the boats adjacent to our slip. We started praying, “Lord Jesus, you calmed the wind and waves on the Sea of Galilee; calm these winds.  The wind did not abate.  I asked Bud to go down to the stern with a boat hook (pole) to try to keep us from hitting the other boats. We both kept praying, “Jesus, calm the wind, Jesus calm the wind!” The wind kept blowing.

As we approached the alleyway, I told Bud, “I need to come in fast to control the boat.” I was so focused on controlling the boat and yelling instructions at Bud, I didn’t notice what was happening. Bud yelled back, “Bill, the wind has stopped!” I proceeded to pivot the boat and backed into the slip without any difficulty. As soon as we tied up and secured everything, the wind resumed its fury.

There are many ways we can experience high winds in life – a spouse or child who is critically ill, the loss of a job, a life-threatening illness, a boss who cannot be satisfied, a child who struggles making friends, the backbiting of a competitive work colleague, the birth of a child with a disability, a tax deficiency notice from the IRS — the list is long and varied.

Jesus is available to calm the high winds, whatever form they take. Do you call on Jesus when you encounter the winds of life? Do you have faith that he will come to your aid?

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Telling People about Jesus

“The first thing Andrew did was look for his brother, Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” (John 1:41 NIV)

Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. John saw Jesus passing by one day and observed to his disciples that Jesus was the “Lamb of God!” Andrew then followed Jesus and spent the day with him.

After meeting Jesus and spending time with him, Andrew, who was also Peter’s brother, immediately went to Peter to share that he had found the Messiah and wanted to introduce him to Jesus.

When I was in my mid-thirties, I met Jesus in a new and personal way, different from anything I had experienced before in the practice of my Catholic faith. While I have shared the details of this encounter in prior blog posts, let me just say that it had the effect of enhancing my faith in God and the Church. It gave me a desire to pray more on a daily basis, read scripture and experience everything about my spiritual and faith life in a more intense and real way.

Like Andrew, one other thing it did was give me a desire to tell others about my experience of meeting Jesus. I was so excited about my encounter and the effect it had on my life that I wanted to share my experience with family, friends and even co-workers.

I remember writing lengthy letters to my parents and a cousin, who was a nun, explaining in great detail all that happened. I shared my experience with a couple of close work colleagues who seemed to accept what I had to say. One of them retold my story to other work colleagues. Some friends invited me to share my experience at a church prayer meeting. One invitation seemed to lead to another.

For over forty years, I have been responding to opportunities to tell people about Jesus, including this weekly blog. Yes, there have been times when I have missed or failed to act on opportunities. But telling people about Jesus and introducing them to him seems to be the way Jesus started out with Andrew, Peter and the others he called. Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus, and Peter, Andrew and the other disciples, with the help of the Holy Spirit, were Jesus’ “witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

We might ask ourselves, have we sought after Jesus like Andrew, and have we sought to introduce him to others?

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Trusting God like Joseph

“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” (Mt. 2:20)

Three times God speaks to Joseph through an angel in a dream. The first time was to tell him to take Mary as his wife after he had decided to divorce her quietly because she was pregnant. The second time was to flea to Egypt to escape Herod’s efforts to kill the child Jesus. The third time was to return to Israel when it was safe.

The Bible does not reveal many details, so we don’t know the time periods involved or all of the circumstances. Whatever the time, perhaps years, Joseph’s response to the sequence of events exhibited great trust and confidence in God. He accepts an explanation for Mary’s pregnancy that defies all human experience. Then he takes his wife and new baby to a foreign land in reliance on a warning in a dream.

We see the faithfulness of God to Joseph in his multiple words, signs and the evolving circumstances. The angel’s message about Mary giving birth to a son, who was to be a “Savior” and “The Messiah,” was subsequently confirmed by some unknown shepherds who report that angels told them the same thing. (Luke 2:11)

By the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth recognizes Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” (Luke 1:43) Further confirmation comes through the words of Simeon and Anna during the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:2-38) Then God directs three kingly men from foreign lands to find Jesus, Mary and Joseph and give them gifts that probably sustained them in their flight to Egypt. (Matthew 2:1-12)

Finally, Joseph receives one more message that it is now safe for them to return to Israel. We see trust and faithfulness in Joseph in his willingness to act on the words he had received and in his submission to the circumstances.

What is our level of trust and confidence in God when he gives us that gentle nudge or whispers in our ear? Do we hear him when he speaks through others? Do we see his faithfulness and desire for us in the circumstances of our lives?

Lord, let me trust in you like Joseph.

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