The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

September 20, 2013

Storms of life will change us, but it’s up to us how

From the Pulpit

By Dr. Terry L. Mann

---- — In all likelihood there are few folks reading this that have not seen “The Wizard of Oz” at least once. The movie starts out calmly enough with the usual troubles of a young teenage farm girl in mid-20th century Kansas. Early on, one of the all-time movie understatements is uttered when one of the cast members says something to the affect of: “There is a storm brewing.”

A tornado being called a “storm” is like the captain of the Titanic saying: “Looks like we’re taking on a little water.”

Dorothy was about to see her entire world changed. She was about to go on a ride no one has ever been on, before or since. She was about to learn that home life was not as bad as she thought. Her journey down the yellow brick road was fraught with the unexpected. She sees the strangest creatures, experiences the strangest events, feels the strangest sensations, and all because of a storm.

The real shock comes in the last scene. That is when the audience is let in on what Dorothy never comes to fully believe. Oz never existed. It was only in her mind. She was just dreaming as the result of a blow to the head during the “storm.”

What you have are the two conflicting accounts of this experience. In one she is in the strange and yet wonderful Land of Oz. In another, she is lying unconscious on a bed. But there is a similarity. In both of the accounts, her world is changed by the “storm.” She is never to be the same again after this one event.

Real life can be like that. Many of us have had a “storm” hit us and been altered by it.

That occurred to 12 men about 2,000 years ago as well. In the Bible, in Mark 4, we have the account. After a full day of serving others, Jesus decides they are going to cross the Sea of Galilee. The disciples go about their job of rowing. Jesus tries to take a nap. At that point in the narrative we read a “furious squall” came up. It must have been one big storm. Many of these men were fishermen. They had seen unexpected storms numerous times in their past. But somehow this was different.

Jesus is summoned from the land of the sleeping, only to rebuke the wind and waves, and end the storm. He turns and rebukes the disciples as well and then as far as we know went back to His nap, leaving the disciples to question themselves, and their faith.

Do you see the resemblance between Dorothy and the disciples? Both of them had their lives changed forever by a storm.

Rain often represents the steady onslaught of trouble that hits us periodically. It seems unrelenting. At times, it is. Storms are usually brief but much more intense. Rain takes a little time to finally get to you. It can be a major source of discouragement. But it gradually creeps up on you. You become “depressed” without even realizing it.

Storms, on the other hand, knock you completely off of your feet in seconds. They send you for a loop that takes the same amount of time as rain; only with the storm those hours are spent in recovery.

Some of you are in storms this very minute. It could be the storm of divorce, the storm of loneliness, the storm of financial struggle, the storm of business struggles, or even the storm of spiritual turmoil as you seek to evaluate your relationship with God. You may even doubt the existence of your faith.

One way or another, the storm will change you. It is up to you to determine how it will change you. You can become bitter and cynical, or you could become strong and more resolved to stand firm with the Lord. It is your choice. But one thing is dead certain. You will not be unaffected by the storms or the rain in your life. The disciples weren’t and neither will we.

Dr. Terry L. Mann is pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Sharon.