If you could categorize your life based on the weather, what would it look like? Sunny weather? Sudden squalls? Cloudy with a 50% chance of rain? Hot, hazy and humid? Blue skies? Tornado belt? I know folks who seem to never get out of hurricane season. They go from one devastating clean-up to another.
Recently, our church lenten Bible study was discussing how Jesus calmed the storm (Mark 4: 35-41). Perhaps you know the story: Jesus was continually drawing larger and larger crowds as He taught and healed throughout the countryside. The crowds were so big that one day he got into a boat to be able to speak to the crowd along the shore. In the evening he tells his disciples to push on with the boat and go to the other side. The Bible doesn’t say why He wanted to cross the water but it may have been His only chance to get some rest without people clamoring around Him. Or, it may have been the fastest way to get to the other side. Either way, He decides to sail across the sea of Galilee. As they sail along, Jesus falls asleep. While He is sleeping a storm suddenly arises. The disciples are afraid. They awake Jesus, ask for help and when He calms the storm, they are even more afraid. Who is this man who is a weather tamer?
What one person noted was that Jesus, at the beginning of the journey, told them where they were going. “Let us go over to the other side.” The destination was given. It was just that the disciples didn’t know what would happen during the journey. As circumstances unfolded, it appears that a storm came up out of no where. No warning. No explanation.
How true that is for us. Sometimes situations occur that appear out of nowhere. We have no preparation for it. No expectation. Life happens: The cancer diagnosis. The car accident. The budgetary-cut down-sized job. Storms that come up in our lives with no warning. Sure, we may know in general where we are headed in life- career, family, travel, etc. And, if we are believers we may know our ultimate travel plans of eternal life. But it is the in-between times, the “how will the journey unfold'“ times that can cause us to fear and be anxious.
We may be tempted like the disciples to see the sleeping Jesus, wake Him up with our cries, “Don’t you care?” I think part of the question that lies behind that one is, “Don’t you care enough about me to prevent it from happening in the first place?” While I may not have had major storms, I have experienced a few squalls. During those times I have been tempted and have actually questioned God- “Where are you? Why do you seem asleep at the wheel? Couldn’t you have intervened or prevented this?”
The thing that I forget is that Jesus IS with me. He is right in the boat alongside me. When things got too rocky and scary for the disciples, Jesus got up and took care of the situation right away. He calmed the storm. He has the authority and power to do anything.
He does the same for you and for me. He takes care of our needs. Sometimes it might not seem as immediate as He did for the disciples but He always finds the way. His timing is not the same as mine. I may think immediately and he is thinking yearly/long-term.
I know for me, I have to distinguish between wants and needs. What I want Him to do is to ensure no storms ever cross my path. But that is totally unrealistic. In following the storm analogy, some storms are needed for others’ needs. ( e.g. I may pray for sun but the farmer may be praying for rain.) What I need Jesus to do is to be there with me. Always. And He is. He has promised us that He would never leave, nor forsake us. We need to trust Him even if He appears asleep.
I used to be a sound sleeper, once asleep I stayed asleep until morning. Ever since being a mom, my ears are my ever ready antennae: the slightest creaks, moans, call outs in the night require me to be the first responder. Even though we no longer have children in the house, I still am a light sleeper. I know when anyone sleeping in our house (human or canine) gets up or repositions himself. I may have my eyes closed and I may seem that I am sleeping, but I am vigilant nonetheless. In some ways, that is how it is with Jesus. Just because He appears asleep to the disciples (and to us at times) doesn’t mean that he is not attune to our needs, wants, movements, or emotions. He is our first responder.
The other thing is that Jesus didn’t say to the disciples was that the boat passage would be smooth. He didn’t say, “Come let’s go over to the other side on this easy, no wave action or wind blowing sea.” In fact, He has said that in this world we would have trouble, but to not fear because He has overcome the world and the trouble which we may experience. I love the image that our lives are like the boat passage. We begin our spiritual journey with Jesus and we get to the other side with Jesus. It is just the passage over the water that can determine how well we survive. Do we panic and capsize or do we trust and batten down the hatches?
What about you? Are you experiencing any storms in your life? If so, how are you faring? Are you panicky? Afraid? Asleep? Calm? Capsized? What can you do to get through this patch of time? Pray? Ask Jesus for help? Ask others?
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and mountains quake with their surging…. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD almighty is with us.” (Psalm 46)