Friday, June 10, 2011

He is There

I want to take a break from the Proverbs 31 series to share an insight gained in my small group Bible study earlier this evening. We are studying Jesus Christ: The Greatest Life Ever Lived, which combines the four gospel accounts into one amazing story of Jesus' life and ministry. We were reading the fairly familiar story of Jesus calming the storm. Here is the account from Mark 4:35-41 (NIV). You can also find the story in Matthew 8:18-27 and Luke 8:22-25:
     That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
     He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
     He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
     They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"
There were several thoughtful questions in our study guide, but the one that hit me the hardest was, "Why do you think the disciples waited to wake up Jesus?" You need to remember that a good number of Jesus' disciples were fishermen. They were quite confident of their ability to handle a boat. You also need to know that the Sea of Galilee is geographically prone to sudden, intense storms. Warm, humid air over the lake intersects with cool air funneled in by the nearby mountain passes. These men had probably handled storms before in their boats. There wasn't a lot of time or warning when this storm started, so they just got busy bailing water and taking in sail, and doing whatever else they needed to do to stay afloat. Waking up Jesus seems to be an afterthought when things were getting desperate. Maybe they thought he should help bail water, or at least be ready to abandon ship. In any case they are baffled that he is sleeping through the whole thing.

It's easy to think in my 21st century perspective that these disciples just didn't get it....until I realize that I do the same thing. When "storms" arise in my life I get busy. Maybe the challenge is unexpected, maybe there is just a lot to do, but for whatever reason I throw myself into the activity of making it through the storm forgetting that the One who can help me calm the storm is there the whole time. Quite often my boat is nearly swamped before I turn to Jesus with my favorite prayer, "Help!" Why do I wait so long? Because I think I can handle it, because I'm busy, because I forget that he is there.

In the story Jesus is sleeping. His physical body was fatigued from the many hours of teaching and touching lives that he had just experienced. We, however, can be assured that he does not sleep, nor does he slumber (Psalm 121:3). He knows the storms we are passing through and he is there, waiting and wanting to help. We just need to ask. In the story Jesus rebukes the wind and waves and everything becomes calm immediately. I don't think we are promised this same result. There are storms that He asks us to go through, but if he will not calm the storm he will calm us.

He is there and he is in control.


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