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Minister's Column

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It was a beautiful afternoon for a white water rafting trip. Things were going great until our raft rammed into the pillar of a bridge and flipped and we were sent down a river that was about 37 degrees with a very strong current without a raft. To say I was scared would be putting it mildly. I was sure that I was going to die. It was completely out of my control . . . it seemed like no matter how hard I swam the shore wasn't getting any closer.

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In the Gospel of Mark (4:35-41) we read the story of Jesus and his disciples out on the Sea of Galilee when a ferocious storm comes up and threatens to sink the boat. The disciples in their fear cry out to Jesus who is sleeping in the back of the boat,"Do you not care that we are perishing?" The same questioned echoed in my mind as I was struggling for my life in the chaotic waters of the river.

The disciples were sure they were going to die and there was nothing Jesus could do about it. But they didn't expect the Jesus they had. He woke up and spoke three words and calmed the storm. I wonder what the disciples would have done had they known what Jesus could do? Could they muster the faith to trust God as Jesus did? We may never know.

But I think they were right to ask Jesus if he cared. It shows us once again how brutally honest the Bible is about living a real human life. It tells the truth of how sometimes, when you and I are scared and we call to Jesus for help, it doesn't always feel as though he responds. Sometimes in middle of our fear we feel like those disciples did, that maybe Jesus just doesn't care enough. During parts of some storms it may seem as though Jesus is sound asleep and we cry out, "Lord, don't you care?" And it is really all right to ask that question.

I did eventually make it to shore that day. Something beyond myself kept me going, something beyond myself would not let me give up. I guess I also did not expect the Jesus that we have. Had I known how that day would have turned out, would my thoughts and prayers been different? I may never know.

But I do know this: Whenever I feel anxious, whenever the storms are raging around me, God is there in the center of the storm. For we face the storms of our world and our lives in one way--by letting our lives be determined by the one in the center--God. Because God's presence in the storm comes to us through the power to keep going, the power to ask God, "Do you care?" And we hear God's response, "Peace, be still." Not necessarily to calm the storms or to make them go away, but to calm our souls so that something in us can keep swimming, so something in us can join Jesus there in the back of the boat in the middle of the storm.

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