This weekend, I'm commuting back and forth to Blue Ridge Summit, PA, where about 25 college students are on retreat. The students are from McDaniel College, where I help out with the campus ministry program, and the focus of the retreat is to help the incoming freshmen transition into campus life.
This afternoon, I'm going to be giving a talk about the storms of life that routinely come our way. College students seem to be especially prone to such turbulence, and my plan is to get them to realize that there are all kinds of safe harbors they can get to when things get tough.
I'm basing the talk on the passage from Matthew's Gospel (8:23-27), the one where the disciples panic as a storm kicks up and they think the boat they're in will go down, taking them with it. All the while, Jesus is asleep. When they wake him, screaming that they're going to die, He chastises them. "Why are your terrified, O you of little faith?" With that, Jesus immediately calms the storm and returns things to normal.
My plan is to tell the students that, no matter how bad things seem to get, Christ is right there with us. He's always willing to be our shelter in the storms that come our way, and we all know from personal experience, they'll come.
Continuing with this metaphor, if you think about it, the safest thing would be to keep our boats tied up at the dock. But boats weren't built to remain in a harbor. In the same way, we weren't created to be so scared of life that we never really risk much.
It's out in the open sea that the craftsmanship of the boat builder can be seen. As these young people move on to the next stage of their lives, they'll have the chance to test all the gifts that have been given them. They will make mistakes, and there will be storms. It's all part of learning that God is right there with us through it all.
What do you do when a storm kicks up in your life? Where/Who is your shelter in the storm?