And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’
Matthew 8:23–27, ESV

When I was in the sixth grade, my family moved from Kansas City, about 45 minutes south to a small, rural town -- Cleveland, Missouri, population (now) 679.

The house we moved into sat on two and a-half acres, and had a pond in back. It was a great place to live for me and my two younger brothers, because we had more room to roam than we ever knew what to do with.

One disadvantage, however, was that we were forced to share all that acreage with my least favorite creature in the world: snakes.

Ribbon snakes, black snakes, and copperheads were common as well as an occasional water moccasin. It could be my imagination, but I recall legends of 8-foot rattle snakes roaming those parts, and stories of 16-foot boa constrictors that preyed on 10, 11 and 12 year-old boys.

While living in that house I developed a serious phobia of snakes. It started as a fear, grew into a paranoia, and then morphed into a full-blown obsession. I was petrified of snakes.

One warm summer evening, one of those critters crawled inside the house, and was inching his slimy, slithering body up a door frame. I was frozen in terror.

My Dad, however, sprang into action. With super-human courage, he confronted that vermin with his trusty square-edged shovel. He disposed of the evil attacker in short order, rescuing me -- and our family -- from most likely certain death.

After tossing the remains of the intruder outside, I looked at my Dad with a new sense of awe and amazement, wondering, "What kind of man is this?"

The gospel writer Matthew shares that God views our storms in the same way my Dad viewed that snake. He wrote, Jesus,"rose up ... rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”(v. 26) Just like my Dad handled my great fear of snakes with great calm, Jesus handled the furious storm with great calm. The sea became as still as a frozen lake. And the disciples were left wondering to themselves,"What sort of man is this?"

Through a confidence-based faith in God, we can have the kind of courage we need to overcome life's storms. We can fear less and trust more. Whether our fears are of snakes or storms, we have a heavenly Father ready to handle any fear we'll face. That's just the sort of Father He is!

Thursday, February 1, 2018


Paul Thurston

This should be a short author profile.