One thing that strikes me about the story of Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4: 35-41 is the degree of panic expressed by the Disciples. It’s already been established that at least Peter, Andrew, James, and John are experienced fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. As such they have known the Sea of Galilee to have sudden storms. They know how to keep themselves and their crafts safe in such instances, in dark or daylight. Something about THIS storm, however, so frightens the Disciples that they wake up Jesus and scream at him “Don’t you care that we’re going to die?”
Over the last two years, storms I was used to gave way to a storm that had me crying out to Jesus about the danger of it all.
In the summer of 2016, Lynette and I were in our 34th year of marriage and our 30th year as a Clergy Couple in the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church. By a wide margin, we were the clergy couple with the longest lived marriage and longest tenure for both of us to serve churches in the Conference. We had some challenges we were used to. I was serving a church of mostly older people in the oldest part of Gulfport. We had just completed a Vacation Bible School for the children of our neighborhood. We were seeking to discern how we could stay engaged with our community.
Lynette was working as an associate pastor at a large church in Ocean Springs. Some decisions made after Hurricane Katrina had left that church as “One Church on Two Campuses,” but also with many tensions that took up much staff time and emotional energy. We had a daughter about to begin her junior year in college. We also had a son with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He was 22, but we had dealt with this diagnosis since he was four. He had just lost his job, due to his tendency to think he knew better than management how things should be done. His future and his being “launched” into adulthood was not clear, but we were hanging in with him. In the midst of this, our 2011 Nissan Altima had had its transmission give out. If you’ve ever had to replace a transmission, you know that you might well think “Maybe we should just buy another car.” Again, there were life challenges, vocational, parental, and financial, but Lynette and I had coped with similar challenges for 34 years.
On Friday, August 19, I had just followed the two truck taking our Altima to a repair shop. They were oging to look at it and let us know what the damage would be. I came home and Lynette said to me “I think I need to go to the doctor.” Evidently, for several days she had suspected she had an abscess on her left breast. She had self-diagnosed by way of the internet, not necessarily the best idea. We went to the Walk-in clinic near our home. The nurse practitioner there looked at her breast and said “You need to go to the Emergency Room.” So, we drove to the Gulfport Memorial Emergency Room. It didn’t take long for us to be seen by an ER doctor. The ER doctor and I got to see this abscess then. It DID look pretty bad. The ER doc said “I’m going to need a surgeon to look at this.” She was admitted, since the surgeon could not see her until the next morning, The next morning the surgeon came to see her. He asked if she was having pain. No, she wasn’t having pain. He said “If this were an abscess, you would be having significant pain. I’m going to have to go in to be sure, but I think this is inflammatory breast cancer.” A sudden storm broke over us. These are words you never want to hear.
I waited in the surgical waiting room. I contacted Lynette’s sisters. I kept our daughter Sarah informed. The surgeon came to find me in the waiting room. “I was really hoping to be wrong. This IS inflammatory breast cancer.” The storm broke Full Force.
To be continued: