Thursday, November 20, 2008

Forgetting the One Who Can Calm the Storm

And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Mark 4:40

The disciples had not seen a storm like this one. As the Sea of Galilee was positioned in a mountainous funnel of sorts, wind could surge without warning down the narrow gorge from the north and whip the sea’s waters into a frenzy without warning. When they left the shore, the sea was calm. Now they feared the boat would be swamped.

Being experienced fishermen, the disciples knew how to handle a boat. But even the most experienced ones had begun to panic. The wind would not let up. The boat was filling with water, despite their attempts at bailing it out. They had tried everything they knew to keep themselves safe. All attempts had failed. They knew if their hope rested on their own resources, they were doomed.

So what did they do? They woke up Jesus, who was sleeping peacefully through the calamity in the bow of the boat. “Jesus! Don’t you care that we are about to go down with the ship?”

In stark contrast to their panic, Jesus calmly sat up. He spoke to the wind and the water with the authority He knew was His. “Be still,” He commanded. Immediately the wind stopped. The waves became calm water. Nature itself had obeyed the voice of the Lord.

The disciples were wide eyed as they sat in awed silence. Who was this guy? Even the wind and waves obeyed Him! If they were scared during the storm, now they were terrified.

We shake our heads at the disciples, who seemed so clueless. They had watched Jesus heal the sick, the lame, and cast out demons. Did they not realize that power like that could only come from God Himself? And why did they wait so long to wake Jesus? After seeing His compassion for others, how could they accuse Him of not caring?

We might shake our heads at the 12, yet we are too often guilty of the same mistakes. We have the benefit of looking back at the life of Christ. We are aware of His resurrection and ascension. We understand His mission in full, purposed to save the world from its sin. We are kind of like Monday morning quarterbacks. It is so easy to judge those who made foolish decisions while in the heat of the game after the game has been played out! So we, in our post-game wisdom, wonder at the dim-witted disciples. Yet even knowing what we know that they did not, we still make the same mistake.

When a crisis comes, all too often our first response is to rely on our own resources. Like the experienced fishermen bailing out the boat and barking commands to the other passengers, we depend on what we know to do in the heat of the moment. It is only when we come to the end of our own strength that we finally turn to the Lord, who has been present in our boat all along. We are helpless, out of ideas, out of hope. Now we are ready to listen to what He has for us. And when we see His hand at work in our lives, we wonder anew at who He is. When we turn to Him in trouble, we understand His power and compassion for us a little more. And we wonder that we did not turn to Him in our first moments of despair.

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