“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!”
Mark 4v.37-41 (NIV)
I know all of Scripture is God-breathed and it’s all there for a reason but there are some stories in the Bible I’m just super glad He had put in. Take the story of the disciples in the boat with Jesus. I had some ‘interesting’ moments in this week. The final one was a big one. I went out for a walk (He feels closer and easier to talk when I’m out in ‘His made’ stuff, over manmade stuff) and sat down on this rock and just started praying through everything and I remembered this story. It truly was a gift. He pointed things out I hadn’t twigged about before, or not in a personal way at least.
“A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping!” (v.37-8, MSG).
I’d had just one emotional turbulence too much. The waves just got really big. And I think I may have learnt the lesson: Jesus can appear to be asleep sometimes but it doesn’t mean He hasn’t got it under control. I think I’ve learnt that. I’m not panicking. I don’t quite get what’s going on but I’m not anxious. I’m remembering faith isn’t walking by sight – if I could always see what was going on, if I could always understand, it wouldn’t be faith, would it? I’m learning obedience doesn’t mean understanding or even liking it. It just means keeping putting one foot in front of the other when called to do so.
I may not be anxious but I am flat. I’m remembering again that this world is fallen and twisted and a mess. But you know one reason that story comforts me so much? Because it flouts the idea that once you’re a Christian, the storm ceases. Those disciples were right where they were supposed to be! They were right by Christ. And they were in the middle of one of the worst storms they’d ever seen. I love how Christ’s response validates that. He doesn’t leap up and go: “Oh oops, you’re following me now, aren’t you? Waves aren’t supposed to happen. Storms shouldn’t happen. Sorry for that – management oversight.” No. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16v.33, NIV). We aren’t lesser Christians when there are waves in our lives, or when those waves threaten to sink our boats.
The huge other comfort is of course what He did next: He rebuked the waves and wind and they didn’t hang around – they vanished. I’m reminded of a song I’ve had playing today:
“You may be knocked down now
but don’t forget what He said, He said
I won’t give you more, more than you can take
and I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break.”
There’s stuff we can’t handle. He knows that. What a comfort that I have a Saviour who knows my breaking point. Sometimes He seems to think it’s a little further along than I do – I know, a created being arguing with the Creator over the breaking point. A little stupid. But He gets me through. And I wonder how many waves and storms He’s already banished in my life.
Just a story in the Bible, just a few hours in history, but what a comfort.