Finding God in All Places
Does life today seem to be very noisy? Is peace and quiet hard to find? This weekend, the Gospel and the Old Testament readings will help us see that we can find God in the stormy, difficult times and not just the quiet times. “God is good all the time!”
Have you noticed that movies, plays, and books spend time preparing you for a grand climax? Usually the greatest excitement is near the end of the story. But the first reading this weekend does just the opposite! The reading begins with Elijah hearing from the Lord. The Lord tells him to “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by.” Then there are a lot of very scary events that happen: heavy wind, earthquake, and fire. Yet Elijah doesn’t find the Lord in any of them.
God didn’t come to Elijah in any of those mighty happenings. God came to Elijah in the very quiet and stillness of life. In fact, if you were to continue reading the scriptures beyond this weekend’s reading, you would hear Elijah and the Lord have an actual conversation.
As if to emphasize the importance of Elijah’s closeness to God, Paul tells us in the second reading that his greatest fear – the worst thing that could ever happen – is to be separated from God. When the storms of life become so strong and so real that we feel like God isn’t there for us, Paul says that is the worst feeling he could imagine.
We All Experience The Storms Of Life
What does the Gospel have to say about the storms of life? The Gospel is almost the opposite of the first reading, for it gives us hope that we will never have to experience Paul’s fear from the second reading.
Jesus came to the disciples when the winds were heavy and the noise was great. The disciples were in the boat while Jesus was praying (in a quiet place) up on the mountain. Later in the evening the boat was being tossed by the wind and waves. Jesus came towards them, walking on the water. The disciples were terrified. Imagine looking out, during a storm, and seeing a person moving towards you by walking on the water in the dark of night.
Jesus realized they were scared and tried to give them some assurance by telling them, “Take courage, it is I. Do not be afraid.” They seemed to calm down and then Peter spoke to Jesus. Basically, what he said was, “Can I come and play outside of the boat too? Can I come out and walk on water?” So Jesus told him to come out!
Come On Peter!
Notice what happened after Peter got out of the boat. He actually began to walk on the water – until he stopped to think about it. When he stopped simply believing and started questioning, he began to sink in the water.
Put yourself in the same boat as Peter. (I had to use that line.) You get out of the boat and without too much analysis you are walking on water, but then you think, “Hey, wait a minute! I can’t walk on water . . . glug, glug, glug!” And down into the water you go!
I Can’t Walk On Water . . . Or Can I?
But the story doesn’t end with Peter under water. Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter before he went under and taught a lesson to all of us. Jesus said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Have you read any of the research that says a person only develops about 10% of the capability of the brain? So much of our brain is not used. Can you imagine if we were able to fully utilize our brain function? Perhaps the lesson from the gospel is that we need to also develop our faith. Perhaps we only use 10% of our faith capacity. Using our faith – nurturing our faith – can help us improve our faith life. Life can be simplified by working on our faith.
Jesus is reminding us that, when we have faith, we have all we need for any storm that comes to us. Our faith can help us do the things we must do. If our faith is strong enough, we can even walk on water.
This week we are reminded that God is always present in the calm of life, but also in the storms and difficulties. Usually it is when we are ready to hear and listen that God speaks to us. When we can’t hear our Lord, it’s not because God isn’t there. It’s because we aren’t yet ready to listen.
When are the quiet times when you experience God?
When you reflect on a storm in your life, can you see how God was there for you?
Have you ever felt like you were separated from God?
What are some ways you can work on strengthening your faith?
Copyright 2002-2008 by Jim Corder