MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017, #6

Post 6.JPGMONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017. #6 – thoughts from the sermon Into The Neighborhood.

And then,  Jesus gets in the boat and the wind ceases. The storm is over. Here’s the word from John, “And they had rowed about three or four miles.”

See, they were three or four miles out into the lake when Jesus is walking on the sea, and walking toward them, and drawing near the boat. And they’re frightened, and He says to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” They’re three or four miles out on a lake that’s seven miles at its widest point and three to four miles wide at many others. Remember what I said about God knowing our situation? They were almost to the shore and didn’t even know it.

The first time I read this first, I thought to myself – verse 21, “They were glad to take him into the boat and immediately the boat was at the land to where they were going” – I was thinking, wow, that’s great. We’re on a long trip. The minute Jesus gets in the car, we’re there. Sort of like “beam me up, Scottie.” But when I realized just how wide the Sea of Galilee was, maybe Jesus was ready to walk past them because they were 100 yards offshore.

Think about this for a moment, this whole dependency thing. God expects them to get to the other shore. Jesus told them, you’re going to go to the other shore. And son of a gun, there they were, almost to the other shore, but they had to row all the way. Jesus is the Son of God. He’s the all-powerful Son of God. Why can’t He teleport to where they are? Apparently, Jesus has to slog four miles through the water to get to where they are. Sometimes, God lets us go for a walk instead of just swooshing us there. But, you see, they were where they needed to go. That’s point number five. God knows our situation better than we ever will. Sometimes, something you think is a big problem, there’s a little tiny solution. Sometimes, there’s a huge misunderstanding that can be cleared up with just a couple words. You know what they usually are? I’m sorry. You know anybody who has huge problems saying those two little words? Sometimes there’s great difficulty between people and the two words that change it all are thank you. Sometimes, we make a huge problem out of something that’s not really a problem.

Another question – if there is to be a miracle, why did Jesus walk on water? Jesus is the Son of God. He’s the all-powerful Son of God. Why can’t He teleport to where they are? Apparently, Jesus has to slog four miles through the water to get to where they are. Or Jesus chose to walk – the idea of our culture that everything should happen faster, right now, in a rush isn’t the way the world was created. Creation has seasons; creation is not in a hurry. But we are so much in a hurry that it is like water to fish. We don’t even notice how fast we are moving until something prevents our immediate gratification – like a slower moving car in front of us that brings a temporary delay. Even a small delay can produce a mountain of frustration when we don’t get our way. We don’t cooperate with creation, we race through it without noticing the world and life happening around us.

Or Jesus chose to walk – the idea of our culture that everything should happen faster, right now, in a rush isn’t the way the world was created to function. Creation has seasons; creation is not in a hurry. But we are so much in a hurry that it is like water to fish. We don’t even notice how fast we are moving until something prevents our immediate gratification – like a slower moving car in front of us that brings a temporary delay. Even a small delay can produce a mountain of frustration when we don’t get our way. We don’t cooperate with creation, we race through it without noticing the world and life happening around us.

We forget that God isn’t in a hurry. I’m trying to remember a time in the Bible where God was in a hurry – and can’t. God’s lessons unfold over time, and much more time that we would prefer. The Israelites spend 40 years in the desert learning how to forget slavery and be a free people. Jesus lives quietly in Nazareth, working as a carpenter until he is 30 to begin his ministry. The Holy Spirit fills Jesus with power, and immediately Jesus retreats to the wilderness for forty days of prayer and fasting. God has a plan, and it unfolds in the best way over time. God is not in a hurry. If we keep up, we will never have to hurry to catch up. Sometimes, God lets us go for a walk instead of just swooshing us there. So Jesus walked four miles on water to where the disciples were.

But, you see, they were where they needed to go. That’s point number five. God knows our situation better than we ever will. Sometimes, something you think is a big problem, there’s a little tiny solution. Sometimes, there’s a huge misunderstanding that can be cleared up with just a couple words. You know what they usually are? I’m sorry. You know anybody who has huge problems saying those two little words? Sometimes there’s great difficulty between people and the two words that change it all are thank you. Sometimes, we make a huge problem out of something that’s not really a problem.

But with God’s wisdom, and God’s understanding, and God’s clarity, and God’s ability to see exactly what’s going on, if we listen to our Lord and Savior, perhaps we’ll be able to see what we’re going through with His perspective. How many times have we been 100 yards offshore and ready to quit because we think that what we’re trying to do is impossible? How very human. God knows our situation better than we ever will. So, therefore, we need to open our hearts because remember the bread lesson was about feelings. We need to open our minds. We need to let God speak to us about every situation we’re in. And we need to have faith rather than fear.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, it may be stormy. The waves might be a foot high or so high as to the point that we fear that our boat will capsize. But Lord, we know that you understand the storms. You understand the waters because you created this world to operate on the basis of wisdom. And unfortunately, Lord, sometimes we’re foolish. We are led astray by the wrong idea, by the wrong perception, by emotions that drive us away from a reasonable path forward. Help us, Lord. Restore us to sanity. Restore us to sobriety. Restore us to calmness so that we need not fear but simply go forward on our journey with you. We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, who loved us enough to come to us sometimes even if that meant walking on water for four miles. Amen.

QUESTIONS
When have you been in a hurry lately?
How did you cope with frustration and delay?
Why did you feel that you had to hurry?
Did you begin without a plan, jumping in to race forward?
If you have no plan, how will you know when you are done?
If you have no map, how will you know when you are there?
Is it harder for God to get your attention when you are anxious and hurrying?
Is hurrying, then, sometimes, a way to avoid listening to God?
If we listened to God, what would happen with our anxiety and frustration?

RESOURCES

The photo “Sunrise on Sea of Galilee” is by Ksenia Smirnova
and is from https://www.flickr.com/photos/ksenia-sm/6766426781/
courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license.

This post is based on the sermon series Out of the Chair, Into the World at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_Aug_2017.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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About David Kueker

I am the pastor at Kinmundy-Wesley United Methodist Church in rural Southern Illinois. This is a learning experience in blogging for ministry toward a local church audience.
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