Updated: Nov 20, 2021
It was May, 1973, graduation night and my best friend Roger Wray and I decided we would go to Bidwell Point on Lake Nofork and camp out to celebrate. Real exciting guys huh? It was a great, non alcoholic way of celebrating a benchmark in our lives and Roger brought a "pup" tent for our sleeping accomodations. For me, it was ok. But I am 5'10" tall, but for Roger it was one of those "well this wasn't really a big enough tent ordeals." Roger is considerably taller, so his head was out the front of the tent and his feet were out the back. I remember sitting there at lakeside and discussing where our worlds would end up. It was a "good conversation" ala The Last Samurai. We talked about some deep things and then we talked about some very shallow things, but it was a great night. Great memories. Now... sleep.
I remember waking up and with my eyes closed thinking, "boy it sure is noisy out here!" What had been a peaceful night by the lake turned into a tumultuous night with a very violent storm coming off the lake. We were soaked and grabbed the tent and headed for a dry place. That dry place was my 1969 Dodge Charger, and I slept in the front seat, (since I was the shorter person) and Roger slept in the back seat. It was cramped but we were out of the storm. The next morning the storm had passed and the sun came out and all was right with the world. We survived!! Another Storm, Another Calm.
In Matthew 8 the writer tells of a very violent storm that came up when the disciples, and Jesus, were trying to pass from one side of a lake to the other side. Here is the Biblical account of said storm. Matthew 8:23 When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.24 And behold, a violent storm developed on the sea, so that the boat was being covered by the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.25 And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!”26 He *said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.27 The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” I have had the same such storms in my life, actually all through my life. I try to proceed from one place to the other and the place I am going to is actually in sight, but then the storm....Oh the storm.
I am a very driven person and my focus is so intense I cannot see other things around me, like storms approaching. I just try to trust God as I go along and sometimes I get caught off guard by the size of the storm. When I do get caught off guard I become very dependent on Jesus to help me and keep me moving forward. Jesus has alway been there to calm the situation, or just calm me.... When we moved to California and served in that great church fellowship called First Baptist Church, Pleasanton, California. We went there for a salary that was pretty small in comparison to the living expenses of Northern California, but I knew God wanted us to go. So we went! Our financial situation got really tight, really quick, and this storm brought me to my knees and I was asking God to come through and calm the storm. The housing market and housing rent was ridiculously high and more than my budget could even get close to handling, so I became very afraid of us even making it out there. But God worked through some individuals who were very wealthy and very giving and He calmed the storm. Another Storm, Another Calm. At the time I was serving in two positions, plus one I didn't plan on to help get the church growing and reaching our community for Christ. Our worship ministry really took off and we presented some programs that were well beyond our talent pool, but we made it and it was very good. Our student ministry also began to get some momentum and lives began to change and begin serving Jesus.
We took our students on snow ski retreats and couldn't afford to even buy skis, and I got a call from a man who was the husband of a lady who attended our church (he didn't even go to church). When I went at his invitaton over to his house, he proceeded to take me to his garage and gave me snow skis so we could ski with everyone else. Another storm, another calm. My salary would not even get close to getting a van, or skis, but Jesus provided another way and calmed each situation.
At the time I didn't realize that "we were missionaries" to that church and God not only called us out there, but provided for every need. I loved that church and I love those people and to this day want to travel back to Pleasanton, California and see where the calm came when we needed it the most. Also, every time I have gone back to Bidwell Point to visit, I remember Roger and I getting awakened by that terrible storm and forced to sleep in the car. It was a youtube moment before youtube. Even today I still have those storms to deal with and I realize another storm on the horizon and look forward to another calm. My latest storm has been when I began losing my singing voice and the realization I may never sing again, mixed with the thought I might have throat cancer. But God intervened and I did not have cancer and my voice is coming back. Different, but it is coming back. Another storm, another calm. Thank you Jesus.
So when I read in verse 26 where Jesus asks His disciples “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” I relate. Oh I relate!! But I also remember when God came through again and again at just the right time in the midst of the storm and then calm....Now I am asking God to provide for a ministry that will unshackle me and get me out sharing the gospel in parking lots all across our nation. It is called the FJ ministry and FJ stands for For Jesus. I will do a parking lot concert/worship time and then present the gospel to those who have gathered. This ministry will look a lot like what the Apostle Paul did on his missionary journeys, but with a modern twist. I am so burdened for it and it has become an undying passion for me and yes, I am in a storm. And now I anticipate the calm from Jesus as He provides the way to do this ministry. I had the same burden many years ago when I birthed a youth movement called it Student Renewal and on the last night of the last time we did the conference there were over 300 decisions for Christ and many of those are serving in churches today.
God puts burdens on us for a reason. When I moved my young family from the Ozarks to California I did not know what was going to happen, but God did a great work there and he can and will do it again. My wonderful wife is such a great helpmate and has been a great encourager all of these years and weathered the storms with me and she also realizes the calm when Jesus brings it. I'm not through yet and this storm will also pass, but I must trust Jesus as a man who has little faith at times and I am calling out to Him today to make it all happen and continue to give more of my voice back to me so I can use it for His glory!! Matthew 7:“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, andyou will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Another Storm, Another Calm!!
The Pilgrimage Continues.....