The sound of lightning cracks the atmosphere. The wind picks up and creates waves that rise and fall as hills of water and terror. A lone boat rises and falls with each tormenting wave, its single sail beaten and ragged, threatening to rip to shreds. Desperate and scared men struggle to see past the heavy rain, their attempts at keeping the vessel from filling with water return void. In the stern of the fishing boat, a tired and rugged man sleeps, his dreams undisturbed by the storm and its power. But finally the men give up and run to his side. They shake him, shouting and screaming, their voices filled with terror and worry. Slowly he awakens, a spirit of fire rising within his innermost parts. Standing to his feet, he looks around at the mighty waves, he hears the terrific cracks of lightning, and he feels the bitter rain bite his tender cheeks. He is not scared of the rain, he is not worried for the lightning, he is not terrified of the waves. They all form an orchestra and he is the composer. The men wait in anxious expectation of what he will do. Coming from his mouth come but three words.
“Peace! Be still!”
And the wind stops.
The lightning runs and hides.
The waves bow.
And the sea is at once still.
And the storm is silenced under the words of he who is called Most Beloved.
We all know the story; how the disciples and Jesus crossed the sea of Galilee in a boat and how a great storm arose and tormented the vessel until Jesus was awakened from his slumber and calmed the sea. We read it and think, “how nice; Jesus calms the storm just like he can calm the storm in my life.” La-dee-da, yay for us. Jesus is cool and we love what he can do for us. But after reading this story recently, I was struck with something I had not noticed before. After Jesus calms the storm he chastises his disciples on their lack of faith and wonders at them. Most times I hear this story, I think of the lack of faith having to do with them not believing in his ability.
But I don’t think that’s necessarily what he’s hurt over here. Yes, the disciples were amazed at the miracle of calming the sea. But that wasn’t the first rodeo they were at. By this time Jesus had already demonstrated his power in incredible ways- healing the sick, casting out demons, and turning water into wine. He clearly had authority over nature and carried a supernatural ability given to him by God. Why else would they have awakened him? They knew he could save them, they knew he was the only one who could deliver them from perishing in the storm. So why then was the only Son of God amazed at their lack of faith? In the gospel of Mark it says the disciples came to him frightened and anxious, and asked him “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Catch how they worded that? Do you not care that we are perishing?
Don’t you care about our safety?
Don’t you care about us?
Don’t you love us?
What if their greatest lack of faith was in doubting he loved them and cared about them?
What if he was hurt most in their ignorance of his love? In doubt of his compassion? I think the Great I Am knew that a storm was raging on while he slept. I think he knew it had the capacity and strength to sink their vessel and take the lives of those most close to him. I think he waited for them to wake him in joyful suspense, in eager expectation, like a father who waits for his son to ask him to teach him something he finds he cannot do on his own. He delights to show us his power, he adores our dependence on his care for us. He knew they would need him to calm the storm. They could not do it. They were still weak in their faith. They needed him. But what if what hurt him that stormy night was not their dependence on his strength alone to save them, no; what if he was hurt that they questioned his love for them.
Our greatest act of faith is faith in his great love for us.
“Do you not care that we are perishing?”
It reminds me of a child, who, after not receiving the toy they begged for, whines “I thought you loved me!”
How many times do I approach God like that child. I just had a hard day on top of a hard week that seemed so unfair for God to let happen to me. I stumble onto heaven’s doorstep, knock hard upon the door of the Most High and fall in a dramatic heap of tears and selfishness when my Maker opens the door. “Why me God?” I ask, my self-centered tears blinding me from seeing the glory of the Father of Lights. “Don’t you even care that I’m perishing?”
My sin is not in approaching the throne of grace and asking of Him who owes me nothing, it’s doubting the love of my Lord and savior. My sin is not that I doubt his power in my life but that I doubt his care over me. Our divine Friend loves it when we ask of him and make requests known to him; for his power is endless and he delights in showing us his greatness. But we must approach him with confidence, not only in his ability but in his love and affection for us.
Our attitude must reflect his aptitude.
So when the storms come, and come they will, run to your heavenly Father with the boldness of heaven.
Wake up your Teacher.
Rouse his unquenchable Spirit.
Cry out to him to save you.
But never, ever doubt that he loves you. Just because he sent you out upon the sea doesn’t mean he created the storm. Remember that when the storm rages and threatens to sink your little boat and all hope seems lost you have the Creator of the known and unknown universe sleeping in the stern.
Wake him up.
Cry out to him.
But do not doubt his love.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.”