"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
September 2, 2009
Our pastor recently shared a story regarding a trip he and his wife took a few years ago to Samoa. On their return flight, one part of the trip required them being in the air approximately ten hours. They had been in the air a short time when they ran into a severe tropical storm. There were times when the plane would suddenly drop several feet. Of course, when this happens, people are required to stay in their seats with their seatbelts on. Several of the passengers were beginning to panic and many were fearful.
The pastor noticed a man sitting a few rows ahead of him. While this was all taking place, he remained calm and never showed any signs of worry or fear. The thought that came to mind was, "Wow, this man must be a really strong Christian!"
After the plane made it through the storm and everyone was able to once again get out of their seats, our pastor made his way to this man. He told him that he had noticed during the turbulence he had remained very calm.
The man's reply was, "I personally know the pilot, and was confident that he knew what he was doing and would bring us through the storm."
Apparently he knew the pilot's skills, abilities, and reputation, so he was secure in his ability to fly the aircraft through the storm.
I have been on a couple flights when the plane encountered turbulence. When the plane makes those sudden drops in elevation, it's not a very pleasant feeling. But I had no idea who the pilot was. I didn't know if it was a young man who was flying his first commercial flight, or if it was a seasoned veteran who was skilled in handling difficult situations. I had no way of knowing their experience or level of skill. But I had to trust that they knew what they are doing and were able to safely get the plane to the desired destination without mishap.
There are individuals from the U.S. Air Force Reserve and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who fly into hurricanes for a living. They do so in order to collect data that helps forecasters and scientists. The first flights into hurricanes and Pacific typhoons began back in 1944.
The airplanes fly directly into hurricanes, not over or around them. They bear into a storm from the outer edge all of the way to the eye at the storm's center and out the other side. On a typical flight, an airplane might do this a half dozen times.
Even with all the technology we have today, the more advanced satellites don't give the National Hurricane Center forecasters all of the data they need to predict where and when a storm will hit. For instance, while forecasters can estimate a hurricane's strength using satellite images, such estimates are sometimes off by an entire category. That is, an estimated category 2 storm could really be a dangerous category 3 hurricane.
Just as important as the forecasting data they collect, airplanes flying directly into hurricanes as well as over and around them, help scientists learn more about the inner workings of the deadliest storms on earth.
Shirley Murillo is a research meteorologist at the NOAA Hurricane Research Division in Miami, FL. As part of her job, she flies directly into the storm she studies. This is what she has to say about it:
"Flying into a hurricane can be turbulent at times. You feel like you're on a roller-coaster -- for about 10 hours. I have flown in a variety of storms, from tropical storms that have wind speeds in the range of 39-73 mph to powerful category 5 hurricanes with wind speeds that exceed 156 mph. A lot of people have the misconception that we fly above the storms, but we actually fly into the thick of it, about 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level. The most turbulence is experienced in the eyewall. The eyewall is a ring or band of strong deep convective clouds that surrounds the eye (center) of a hurricane. The highest wind speeds are found in the eyewall. Once you go through the eyewall to the eye -- the storm's center -- it can be fairly calm. It's an amazing sight to see; almost like being in the center of a football stadium where the seats surrounding you are made out of clouds. At the same time, you look above you can see the bluest color of sky and if you look below you see the ocean rolling with huge waves crashing."
I think it's interesting that at the very eye or center of the storm, you will find calm. But you have to go through great turbulence to get there.
We all face various storms in our lives. It may be serious accidents, health problems or disease, family difficulties and heartbreak, financial ruin, loss of home or job or both, death of a loved one, etc. During those times, we feel like we're encountering a category 5 hurricane with excessive winds trying to destroy our faith. It's hard to have hope or to look beyond our circumstance.
In Matthew 8:23-27 we read where Jesus got into a boat, and His disciples followed Him. They were out in the middle of the sea when a storm arose. The boat was covered with the waves. I'm sure the boat was tossing to and fro upon the rough waters. I can only imagine the disciples' fear as the huge waves swept upon the decks and the wind tossed them around. Yet in the midst of all this going on, Jesus was asleep.
The disciples woke Him up and said, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"
Jesus asked them, "Why are you fearful, Oh you of little faith?"
Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. The men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"
Later in Matthew 14 the disciples were in another boat. When they were once again out in the middle of the sea, a storm arose. The scripture says that the boat was tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
Jesus came towards them, walking on the water, and they were afraid and cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke and told them, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."
Peter answered, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."
Jesus told him to come, and Peter got out of the boat and began walking on water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and caught him. He said, "Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
When we go through storms, it's only when we get our eyes focused on what's going on around us and off of Jesus that we begin to sink and feel despair.
Psalms 107:23-30 says, "Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the deaths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven."
I think something we can learn from these scriptures is that when we are facing storms in life, we can call out to God and He will always be there to calm our fears. The waves and winds that seem so overwhelming and threatening will quiet, and God will give us peace. When we are at our wits' end, all we have to do is cry out to the Lord and He will calm the storm.
We also know who the pilot of our life is -- Jesus! We know His skills, abilities, and reputation. We don't have to fear, but can rest in knowing that He is in charge and can do a much better job of getting us through our storms than we can ever do on our own.
We can remember that God is in the eye or center of our every storm. We may have to go through great turbulence, but in the very middle of the storm we can find calm and peace, when we rest in God and place our faith in Him.
We live in Oklahoma. And in Oklahoma, we all know that the best way to survive a storm is in a storm shelter or a fortified room in your house. Most of us don't have either, so they (whoever they is) say to stay in a bathroom (bathrooms usually have plumbing and other strong fixtures that fortify the room a little).
To summarize Matthew 7:24 and 25, a home built on Christ is like a house built on stone. It won't fall when the rain comes.
Most readers will have seen the connection already. When the storms come, I highly recommend that you have a foundation already built in Christ. Then go there and hide.
But building that foundation takes time. And when the storm comes, it's awfully hard to start building a foundation. We need to get the foundation built now, while it's still sunny out.
Triple Fudge Cake
1 large pkg. Chocolate pudding and pie filling (not instant)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Devils Food cake mix
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Heat oven to 350. In large saucepan, cook chocolate pudding as directed on package; blend cake mix (dry) thoroughly into hot pudding by mixer for 1-2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured cake pan. Sprinkle top of batter with chocolate chips and nuts. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
When Jon was a boy, he and a neighbor friend decided that they wanted to dig a tunnel between their two houses. Jon asked his dad for permission to dig a hole in their yard for the opening of their tunnel, and was quite surprised when he said yes. So the two boys grabbed their shovels and excitedly started digging. After digging a short time, it didn't take long to discover why he had received permission from his dad so easily. At that time, the water table was really high and you didn't have to dig very far down to get to it. Jon and his friend didn't get their tunnel dug, but they did strike water!
You cannot get rid of your temper by losing it. (seen on a church sign)
We hope you all are having an enjoyable summer.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon