Archive for the ‘Storms’ Tag

The Rock

In the Piedmont region of North Carolina there is a brand new summer camp for young people called The Rock. It’s located in the beautiful area around Hanging Rock State Park and words cannot convey the intense and deeply intimate way we have encountered the Triune God of Grace this week. As I write this blog I am sitting in the Chapel. The campers are all out at their activities. Some are at High Ropes, some are at Paintball, others are at Arts and Crafts, and the rest are doing a myriad of other fun activities. All week we have been talking about Matthew 7:24-29 where Jesus says that if we build our house on the Rock it will stand but if we build it on sand, the storms of life will tear it down. In the wake of the tragic storms in the past decade we have all seen what powerful storms can do to a weak foundation. Sand is surely one of the weakest foundations upon which we can build but a good solid foundation will support a physical house even in the toughest storms. 9802033_l

Jesus is the only foundation there is. There is no such thing as a counterfeit foundation. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.” (NRSV) You see all week the campers have been taught about the Rock- Jesus Christ and have been encouraged to build their lives on him. While at the outset one might worry that we have been pushing these kids back on themselves, our camp director Stephen and our Chaplains Rocky and Linda have been very careful to articulate to the campers that in terms of a sandy foundation all we are ever able to do is pile sand on Jesus who is the One Foundation. He, the Cornerstone, has been in place for us before the beginning of the world and is holding us up even when we fall!

Jesus will not be moved. He will not be shaken. And in our feeble attempts to “build” our lives, either on sand or on the Rock, we are ultimately building on Jesus in the end. If we make the choice to heap sand on the Rock and build atop such a weak, anemic structure our building is destined to crumble when the hard storms of life assail. The good news is that if we are so lost in our darkness, so blind, and so wrongheaded as to actually build on sand, the Rock, Jesus Christ, is still there with the Father’s unflinching heart to catch us when it all comes tumbling down.

So why would anyone build on sand? I don’t know. What I do know is that in one way or another we do it all the time. Our saving grace is that Jesus is there to help us pick up the pieces after the storms have blown it down and the floods have washed it away. Building on sand does not make Jesus go away. It cannot change the Triune God who Is. Building on sand is surely a fool’s errand… good for us that the Father, Son, and Spirit have already put in the Foundation that holds all things together and will never let us wash away or disappear from his love.       ~Bill Winn



He Couldn’t Save Himself

There’s a famous story in which Jesus calms a storm while he and the disciples are in a boat, on the lake, being battered by the wind and waves (Matt. 8:23-27.) If you’re like me you have the idea that it would be nice if Jesus calmed every storm in your life. Since he doesn’t, we believers have come up with a famous saying about the calming of storms. We sometimes say “Jesus may not calm the storm but he will calm the sailors in the midst of the storm.” That’s true and often very encouraging.

But what if Jesus neither calms the storm nor calms the sailors? What happens when the boat is swamped by the waves, sinks to the bottom, and all the sailors die screaming in terror? That happens too, you know.

In fact, it happened to Jesus. The authorities arrested him, beat him, and nailed him to the cross. They even commented on it as they did it. “He saved others,” they said “but he cannot save himself.” (Matt. 27:42) In fact, the Bible confirms that those religious leaders were right – Jesus didn’t save himself. He died. The “boat” of his body was swamped by the wave, overwhelmed by the storm, and sank into the deep darkness of the abyss. He who calmed the storm, and calmed the sailors, was drowned in a tide of violence.

Ah, but then something happened on the third day, didn’t it? We are now in the season of Easter and we know the rest of the story. Jesus was raised from the dead!

Did you notice how I phrased that, though? I didn’t say “Jesus raised himself from the dead” I said “he was raised.” Even in death Jesus did not save himself. The Bible tells us that God raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 3:15, Rom. 4:24.) It was the Father, through the Holy Spirit, who raised his Son up and saved him from death (Psalm 40:2, Rom. 8:11.) So, in a sense, the teachers of the law were right – he couldn’t save himself, but his Father loves him and saved him through the Holy Spirit. He saved him through death, but not from death.

There is a profound lesson in that for all of us. There will be times when Jesus will calm storms for us. There will be times when he will calm us in the midst of the storm. But there will also be times when we will not be saved from the storm but we will be saved, in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, through death because of the storm.

None of us are getting out of this world alive. For every one of us there will eventually come a storm that will, like Jesus’ cross, overwhelm our bodies and send us sinking into the depths of death. Even though we will all eventually sink and all eventually drown we will also all eventually be made alive in Christ (1 Cor. 15:22.) Notice how I phrased that. I didn’t say we will all eventually make ourselves alive by our faith or belief. I said that, just like our brother Jesus, we will be made alive. We can’t save ourselves but our Father who loves us will save us – even from death itself – in the resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ through the power of his Holy Spirit.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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