She was among an eager group of 4-year-old children crowded around my feet as I taught their Sunday school lesson. I was the teacher and they were the students – or at least that’s how it started out. The pint-sized audience listened intently as I tried to create a mental image of Jesus and His Disciples trapped in a thunderstorm on the Sea of Galilee.
“The winds bleeeeeeew and rocked the little boat back and forth, back and forth. The waves were soooooo big; they splashed over the wooden sides and got the men all wet. Then water started filling up the boat – and do you know what happens when a boat gets full of water?”
“It sinks,” they chimed together.
“That’s right.” I continued with a wrinkled brow and concerned look on my face. “And that’s not all. The lightning was sooooo bright, it looked like fire in the sky. And the claps of thunder were sooooo loud, they could feel them vibrate in their chests.”
After painting this picture of impending doom and thinking I would have my “congregation” just a little worried about the fate of these men trapped in a storm, I asked the question. “Now if you were in a tiny boat and caught in a terrible storm like this, would you be afraid?”
Then one precious little girl, confident and unshaken by the entire scenario, shrugged her shoulders and replied, “Not if Jesus was in the boat with me.”
I will never forget that answer. As her words have echoed in my mind, I’ve come to realize that this is the answer that calms all our worries and fears. Just as the Disciples had the storm raging all around them, many times the storms of life rage around us – a friend discovers she has cancer, a husband loses his job, a child is born with birth defects.
These are storms with waves of emotions so high that our lifeboat fills with tears and appears that it could sink at any moment. Waves of fear rock our boat and threaten to spill us into the depths of despair without even a life jacket to keep us afloat. Storms cause us to doubt who we are, what we have and where we are as a child of God. Waves of emotions rock our faith.
“Tell me, would you be afraid?”
“Not if Jesus was in the boat with me.”
And guess what. He is.
God said, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV), and Jesus said, “Surely I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 26:20). Although the pain may be great, we don’t need to be afraid that the storms of life will destroy us, because Jesus is in the boat with us. His power can calm the seas and still the storms of life that threaten to pull us under.
After the children filed out and scattered to Sunday lunches throughout the city, I sat in the room to digest the words of the real teacher that day.