When I was a college student, home for spring break, our family decided to take a vacation to the Gulf Shores. My father was determined to sail his 22 foot sailboat in the Gulf, much to my mother’s chagrin. The first morning after we arrived, my father announced that “today is the day!” The sky was crystal blue, the ocean calm, only puffs of clouds and a gentle wind. My mother decided to spend the morning by the pool, while the rest of the family set sail.
We were having a delightful morning sailing, when suddenly in the distance a miniature tornado appeared before us. When I called my father’s attention to what I was seeing, and after he muttered a few words under his breath, he gave the small tornado a name – a water spout. In a matter of minutes our calm, gentle, delightful morning turned to fear, anxiety and panic. I yelled at my father to do something, as the water spout seemed to be approaching at a terrifying and alarming speed. My father calmly answered me, “We wait. We cannot outrun a water spout.” “What? You have to be kidding. What if it hits us?” To which he calmly answered, “Well, you know how to swim don’t you?” And then, miraculously, just as suddenly as the spout appeared, it disappeared.
It seems to me that we have been hit by a water spout of sorts, the name of which is Covid19, a global pandemic which has upended our lives and even more seriously threatens our lives. We cannot outrun it. But we do know how to swim. Jesus has given us those swimming lessons. He was in a similar situation, when one day he got into a boat with his disciples to sail across the lake. “A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water and they were all in danger.” The disciples pleaded with Jesus to do something because they were perishing. And he responded “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8: 22-25) A little harsh maybe, but Jesus is reminding the disciples to have faith in him, through whom all things are possible. Pray without ceasing. Be generous and compassionate towards neighbors, particularly those in need. In other words, don’t just think about yourselves. Be grateful for the gifts of today and entrust the future to God. Recognize that we are all in the boat together, and Jesus is right there sitting in the midst of us.
The storm will pass. Our job is to not panic, but have faith in the living God, who sails with us! And to do all we can to help our neighbors and recognize that we are all in this together. We know how to swim.
Reverend debbie osterhoudt
I am very excited to join in the ministry at Peace Presbyterian Church as interim pastor! I graduated from Vanderbilt University and received my Master of Divinity from Columbia Seminary in Decatur, GA. Before serving at Peace Presbyterian, I served in Triangle area churches as pastor, associate pastor and interim pastor for 33 years. I have a passion for my ministry and study, travel, walking, sailing (which I learned from my father) and gardening.