Psalm 107:1-3; 23-32
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
“Wrestling the NE Wind”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Many of you who live up here your whole life, or at least of it, are aware of the storms and floods that may come with the NE Wind. I myself am just a newbie up here and though I have witnessed several NE Winds and its terrible storms, I wager that I have only witnessed a small portion, a taste of the might that the winds could bring to Catawba and Marblehead and Port Clinton. What happened on the week leading up to Memorial Day and the Walleye Festival is about the worse storm I have yet to witness up here. The grounds flooded, merchandise all over the place, tents toppled, dead fish in people’s yards. Again, you may have witnessed worse, but that was the worse I have witnessed here.
Now before you accuse me of being sheltered, I have witnessed many floods. Down in Dayton and over in the valleys of Pittsburg, with the Great Miami River and Ohio River, the people are well acquainted with water related property damage and massive floods. With Dayton in particular there are roads I grew up crossing regularly which had a very high frequency of floods. In fact many times I have witnessed the very drive I live on, flooded over; we had a nearby creek. Now the drive was itself a
hill, but the closer you got to the creek at the foot of the drive the higher the flooding was.
So I grew up with my own fair share of floods, but what I didn’t grow up with, due to the fact that I grew up in a valley, was the massive and harsh winds that Catawba gets. Many of you are prepared for such winds, just as how many in Dayton are prepared for floods. And just like how many in Dayton have come to an understanding of floods and such, all the risks and the risk managements, and a healthy dose of respect towards our relationship with the river, so too does Catawba with regards to the lake and her winds. Many of you know the risks associated with living up here, many of you have risk management, and many of you have a healthy level of respect towards the terrifying might of the Lake.
Do any of you honestly believe that you, by your own might, can stand up against the NE Wind? When a NE wind comes do any of you can get on a bout and wrestle against the storm? And I ask you this, if a friend decided to do just that, intentionally get in a bout to wrestle with the Wind, what would your response be: laugh at their stupidity, angrily chide them, worry over them? Such a person is either incredibly foolish or very brave.
A healthy level of respect would tell you that there are somethings that you do not have the power to control, and thus instead of fighting the storm you ride it out and wait for it to blow
over. But there are many of us who pay no attention to the warning signs or do pay attention but pay it no mind. Why? Well, because there is another pressing issue at stake, something that
can’t just wait. For Jesus it was his mission. He had a duty to complete, so He and his disciples got on a boat to cross the lake.
Now I can imagine the fishermen of Jesus’ crew, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, reading the skies and being all concerned over the coming storm. But Jesus said go, and so they did. By the time the harsh winds caught up the reactions we witness to the storm between Jesus and his Disciples are quite different. The Disciples are all terrified, they respect and know the winds, and they knew that death was just around the corner. Had it been up to them they would have waited until after the storm before they set out on a boat. Jesus on the other hand, has no respect towards the wind, but ignores it and sleeps soundly in the boat. Of course the Disciples are going to chide Jesus for sleeping as they concern for their lives, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” That is when Jesus rebukes the wind, and the wind stopped.
We respect the storms because we have no control over it, instead we recognize its full potential, measure all the risks, and act in a way that is most appropriate and most prepared to accomplish are goals while mitigating any damage that might accrued do to the coming storm. The fear the disciples had was because they understood the storms and knew they were not prepared but rather doomed. Yet they forgot something important.
Instead of chiding Jesus, did they ever consider why Jesus was so relaxed? Out of fear of the storm did they forget who was sleeping in their own bout; who Jesus truly is? Here is God! God doesn’t respect the storms, the storms respect God! What does
Jesus have to worry about some little storm? And yes I said little storm. Here is an image. In those days and many centuries prior, the respect and healthy fear toward the seas was elevated to godhood for many pagans. If the storms were a brewing then the gods were angry. Humans cannot fight against such power and thus they turned to appeasing these gods. To find favor with them so as to calm their anger and thus be able to cross the seas. To the Romans, Neptune was one of the most feared gods. The open seas terrified them. Now imagine the storms are whipping up and the terrified Romans are cowering before their scary god and here comes the one and only true God who looks down at this puny god and says, “Stop that. Now go to your room, stop your whining, and think about what you have done.” The winds serve God, so what has he to fear of such insignificant storms?
The whirlwinds might be mighty, but God is mightier. So you think wrestling the winds foolish, what about wrestling with God Almighty? And here we come to the story of Job. Job is in a terrible state, for because of his faith he is probably the most unfortunate and pain stricken person who was walking the earth. He was so miserable that he started complaining to God about his suffering, getting angry at God, and wished he was never born. He demanded that God answered him explain why he, Job, the most faithful follower of God currently on earth, was suffering so much. He demanded answers. Oh, so you’re going to wrestle with God, I hope you know what you are getting into because here he comes. God Almighty, whom even hurricanes and earthquakes and tsunamis and volcanoes bow to, has arrived like a tornado, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and make it known
to me.” Dress for action like a man. In other translations it says, “brace yourself like a man,” and still others, “gird up your loins like a man.” Basically, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” It was time to wrestle and if you truly wish to wrestle with God then don’t cower but act like a man, and yes, God did tell Job to act like a man. You asked me to come down, so here I am, do not be surprised when I bring all my might with me, so be a man and own up to your challenge as I pummel you with words, as I talk down to you about my might. What you see here in our first lesson is but a short snippet of God’s speech, which is 4 chapters long or 124 verses.
You who fear the storms who are you to demand answers from me whom the storms fear and obey without question? Now because Job is an incredibly faithful man and is quick to repentance whenever he actually does do something wrong, after God severely chastised Job, he did own up like a man and instead of giving in to anger he bowed down to God and apologized, saying, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” It should be noted that just earlier, Job said to his friends in 28:28, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” After Job’s apology, God did bless him and protected him.
So I ask you this, which would you rather have, God for or against you? Would you rather wrestle against God or have Him wrestle on your behalf? Do you not fear the storms? Does not the storms fear God?
Here is the thing. When Jesus came, he came to save us all from our sins, he died for our sake. But he will not force his grace upon you. He is not some evil tyrant, aka totalitarian, who forces His will on you, for you can choose to walk away from Him and be against Him, but if you are against Him, you won’t receive his blessing, mercy, or grace. Yes, He is still trying to give it to you, but you are the one deciding not to receive. On the other hand, if you are willing, Christ will act as your shield, He wants to ask as your shield, fight against the Devil on your behalf, guarantee Salvation, and even provide the occasional miracle, for Jesus is not subject to the storm, he is not lesser than the storm, he is not afraid of the storm, but rather the storm is subject to Christ.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, woe is we for we who are worthless worms, incapable of commanding the winds to blow the way we wish it, dare to command you who controls the winds. We ask for protection against the storm while also fabricating false images of you to our liking. Give us the wisdom to have more fear in you than in any storm that comes our way, to respect you for who you truly are and for not what we wish you to be, and to love you and your self-sacrificing defense against all that assails us. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.