On Giants and Storms

June 24th, 2018                Proper 12

1 Samuel 17: 32-49           Mark 4:35-41

In the Old Testament reading we here the story of David and Goliath; a story about a
little man who faces a giant. Goliath was said to be 9 feet, 9 inches tall. He was a great warrior,
heavily armed and dangerous. He was the leader of the Philistines, an oppressive group who
destroyed the coastal towns of Israel and gradually moved inward, taking over everything in
their path. On the other hand David is a mere shepherd. His only weapon was a sling, and all
the ammunition he had was five small stones. With one small stroke David knocks the giant to
the ground and kills Goliath. Then Israel was free of the evil giant and the Philistines fled.

The story is a classic; the underdog destroys an enemy who was much larger than
himself. Goliath was stronger, heavily armed and mean spirited. But, in the end, he is destroyed
by David, who was small, weaker and had virtually no armor. Because, David prevailed the
nation of Israel had new hope. Their faith in God has been restored.

Have you ever been overwhelmed? Have you had an experience when life seemed so
complicated you didn’t know where to start? Life certainly has its obstacles and some of them
are so huge we feel helpless. And there are times when we are simply not up to the task. The
story of David vs. Goliath provides a model for us when it comes to facing the “giants” in our

First, David used a single shot and one small stone to slay Goliath. He used a simple,
crude weapon to bring down a heavily armored giant. One shot to the forehead was all he
needed. We never know when the smallest of skills will save another person’s life. We don’t
have to be supermen and superwomen to come to the aid of others or make a difference in life.
We need only to use the skills we have acquired along the way.

Secondly, David rejected Saul’s offer of wearing his armor. It was much too heavy and
weighted him down. He chose to take on the giant with only his sling. In other words David had
to be himself. Saul’s armor was no use to him. David’s skill was in being a shepherd who could
sling rocks with his sling.

Third, David was a man of faith. He trusted in God. He said to King Saul, “The Lord, who
saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of
the Philistine.” David said to Goliath, “You come to me with sword, spear and javelin; but I come
to you in the name of the Lord of hosts.” David truly believed that God was with him and that he
would prevail over the much larger giant, Goliath.

David trusted enough in God to face Goliath. We too can overcome the giants in our
lives by trusting that God will give us the strength and courage we need to move forward. All the
giants of life can be overcome when we take small, individual steps.

In our Gospel reading we hear of Jesus and his disciples are crossing the Sea of
Galilee. They are moving from the Jewish side to the Gentile side, the side where they are at
home to the side where they are strangers, the side where life is familiar to the side where it is
new, different and unfamiliar. We may have never crossed the Sea of Galilee but we’ve been in
that boat. This is not just a story about the weather and a boat trip. It is a story about life. It’s a
story about faith. It’s a story about fear. Wherever you find one of those you will find all three.
They cannot be separated.

Sometimes the sea of life is rough. The wind is strong. The waves are high. The boat is
taking on water and sinking. We all know what that is like. Each of us could tell a storm story.
Some of our stories will begin with a phone call, a doctor’s visit, or news we did not want to
hear. Some of them will start with the choices we made, our mistakes and our sins. Other
stories will tell about the difficulty of relationships, hopes and plans that fell apart, or a struggle
to grow up and find our way. Some storms seem to arise out of nowhere and take us by
surprise. Other storms build and brew as we watch.

Storms happen: Storms of loss and sorrow; storms of suffering; storms of confusion;
storms of failure; storms of loneliness; storms of disappointment and regret; storms of
depression; storms of thoughts and uncertainty. Regardless of when or how they arise, storms
are about changing conditions. Life is overwhelming and out of control. Things don’t go our way.
Circumstances seem too much for us to handle. Order gives way to chaos. We are sinking. The
water is deep and the new shore is at a distant horizon.

The disciples are quick to make the storm about Jesus. “Do you not care that we are
perishing?” We’ve probably echoed their words in the storms of our lives. “Do something! Fix it!
Make it better!” In the midst of the storm Jesus seems absent, passive, uncaring. How can he
sleep at a time like this? Sleeping Jesus is not what they or we want.

Sleeping Jesus, however, is in the same boat and the same storm as the disciples. He is
surrounded by the same water as the disciples, blown by the same wind, beaten by the same
waves. His response, however, is different. While the disciples fret and worry he sleeps. The
disciples want busyness and activity. Jesus sleeps in peace and stillness. His sleep reveals that
the greater storm and the real threat is not in the wind, waves and water around us – the
circumstances in which we find ourselves – but within us. The real storm, the more threatening
storm is always the one that churns and rages within us.

That interior storm is the one that blows us off course, beats against our faith and
threatens to down us. Fear, vulnerability and powerlessness blow within us. The sense of
abandonment, the unknown, the judgement and criticism of ourselves and others are the waves
that pound us. Too often anger, isolation, cynicism or denial becomes our shelter from our

“Peace! Be still!” Jesus speaks to the wind and the sea. Jesus isn’t changing the
weather as much as inviting the disciples to change. He’s speaking to the wind and the waves
within them. The disciples have been pointing to what is going on outside them. Jesus now
points to what is going on inside them. “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Jesus’ words are more about us than the circumstances of our lives, the storms we
meet. Storms happen. Faith, more faith, better faith, stronger faith, the right kind of faith does
not eliminate the storms of our lives. Faith does not change the storm. It changes us. Faith does
not take us around the storm but through the storm. Faith allows us to see and know that Jesus
is there with us. Faith is what allows us to be still, to be peaceful, in the midst of the storm. It
means we do not have to allow the storm to cause problems within us.

I would like to share with you one of the greatest storms I had to face in my life some
years ago. It was alcoholism; my drinking was getting the better of me. It was affecting my work,
my family and social life. I knew if I did not do something about it I would lose everything I
worked so hard to achieve. So in April of 1985 I took the first step and by the grace of God I
have been sober now for 33 years.

The Spirit of God blows through and within us more mightily than the winds of any storm.
The power of God is stronger than any wave that beats against us. The love of God is deeper
than any water that threatens to drown us. In every storm Jesus is present and his response is
always the same, “Peace! Be still!”

In every storm there are choices to be made. Will we allow the storm or Jesus’ peace be
within us? Do we put our faith in the power of the storm or in the power of God in Christ? Amen!