April 18, 2016. 18 inches of rain. Early morning Monday. Flooded bayous and creeks. I knew there was trouble when I saw a neighbor building a large boat.
Our iPhones sounded alarms two or three times in the night about floods. We don’t live in a flood plain so I’d say a prayer for others and fall back asleep. About 4:30 a.m. our son came into our room with a flashlight. “Hey, it’s flooding,” he said. “I know that. Nothing we can do about it,” I said. “No Dad, it’s flooding in our house,” he said. I can’t repeat what I said next.
The sound of wet steps is not the best sound to awaken to. We gathered to make a quick game plan. We had to save as much of our house and belongings as we could.
Others across Houston needed saving too. Many were waking up to situations worse than ours. Water rising higher inside their houses and apartments. Cars flooded on the street. And then there were those driving into deep water that needed rescue.
Maybe it wasn’t a storm. But you’ve needed to be saved too, haven’t you? Bills piling up left you drowning under a weight you couldn’t bear. Relationship issues blew you off course. Life demands made you feel as if you were sinking fast. You needed something or someone to save you.
Peter did. You’ve heard the story. He and his friends are on the Sea of Galilee. A storm brews. Jesus comes walking towards them on the Sea. They think he’s a ghost. Peter begins walking on the water towards Jesus. He sees the wind and gets afraid. And he begins to sink.
That’s when he does the next right thing. He cries out to Jesus, “Save me!”
With two thousand years of reflection we wonder how the disciples did not know it was Jesus. But it takes eyes of faith to recognize when Jesus is present. Especially when you are in the middle of a storm. They couldn’t recognize Jesus but Jesus recognizes them. And Jesus knows the storm they are in. He says literally: “Take courage. I am. Fear not.”
“I am” is the name God gave of himself to Moses at the burning bush. The fulcrum between balancing courage and fear in a storm is “I am.” We expect to hear “I am” at burning bushes or Sinai summits. But often we do not expect to see him near in the storm.
There is power in “I am.” I saw a book recently with the title “The Power of I Am” and thought, “That’s a great book to write. Pointing people to the power of God!” But when I skimmed it I found it was only about saying positive statements about ourselves: “I am strong. I am smart. I am handsome.” I thought, “I say those things anyway. I don’t need this book.”
And then I thought: “I need to write a response to this book and call it ‘The Real Power of I Am.” “I Am” is powerful. But the power is located in the God of the Universe. “I Am” is his name. He doesn’t have to add anything after “I Am” to convince himself he’s better than he feels. We may have to try tricks of positive thinking but not God. And when you are sinking and need to be saved you realize quickly that saying “I am strong” or “I am confident” or “I am a fish” won’t help you much.
But Jesus can. His name—Jesus—means “Yahweh is salvation.” The angel told Joseph to name the child “Jesus” because “he will save his people from their sins.”
And he is ready to save you. You need only do as Peter did. Cry out to Jesus, “Save me!” Take his hand. He’ll get into the boat with you too. And then the winds will cease.
I did. And he saved me. After three days of shop vac’ing, dehumidifying, baseboard pulling, and furniture stacking I was sinking too. I needed a moment alone so I offered to pull the baseboards in the bathrooms. I closed the door so my other family members would pause before they opened it, wondering if I was relieving the wall of its baseboard or relieving something else.
It was a moment I could have given up. In our flooded house I was tempted to drown in self-pity. But Jesus came in that storm. Here’s what he showed me:
- I was blessed to even have a house that could flood.
- I had a stellar wife whose vocabulary does not include the words “give up.”
- We had two grown sons at the house to pitch in and help.
- We had church family who came by, offered help, and encouraged.
- We had neighbors who loaned fans and shop vacs to aid in the cleanup.
- We had insurance agents who dropped by to give advice and a smile.
- We had a home remodeling friend who assessed the damage, told us we’d done a great job, and would help us put things back together.
I was “saved” from a moment of self-pity. And I’ve been saved in so many other ways too. I’ve been saved, but only by Jesus.
You can be too. Next time you face a storm, face Jesus.
Question: What storm are you facing now? How can you face Jesus in the storm?