John 6:1-21 (NRSV)
Chapter 6After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. Verse 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Verse 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Verse 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. Verse 5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" Verse 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Verse 7Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." Verse 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, Verse 9"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" Verse 10Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Verse 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. Verse 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." Verse 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. Verse 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world."
Verse 15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. Verse 16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, Verse 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. Verse 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. Verse 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. Verse 20But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." Verse 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.
Anyone who grew up in Minnesota seems to have a story of a white-knuckle boating experience on a lake during an unexpected storm. In mine, two dads and two small boys are in a sailboat, enveloped by a sudden wind that nearly capsizes the boat. The two sons squeal in delight as we race across the waves. The two dads felt only terror. And then my friend has the presence of mind to take out a jackknife and cut the rope to the sail. In a heartbeat, the sail slackened, the boat was up righted, and our fears were abated.
Storms come in a variety of ways for us, not just on choppy seas. A sudden illness; the loss of a job, or a marriage; the death of a loved one. We cry, “Lord, help us!” not always sure if our prayer is answered by God.
For such times, songwriter Scott Krippayne writes a hopeful song with this refrain,
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child.
Gracious Lord, you know the storms that rock our lives and fill us with fear or uncertainty. Remind us that you are with us in the midst of them all—sometimes asleep in the boat, but always holding your children close. Amen.