The story of Jesus and the twelve disciples on a small boat in a big storm reminds us that life is full of swift transitions. It reveals the seasonal nature of circumstances. Indeed, life’s atmosphere can change from peaceful to turbulent in a moment. It did for Jesus and the disciples.
“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” Mark 4:37
That morning the disciples awakened to the thrill of possibility. They had been walking with Jesus for several months and saw the growth and rise in popularity of His public ministry. Each day, they marveled as He served the broken and the bound with compassion unmarred by selfish ambition. They were eyewitnesses and recipients of the love and mercy of Christ extended to fallen humanity.
The Great Teacher
The swelling crowds gave evidence to the draw of Christ’s ministry. Jesus possessed unpretentious dignity and from His person emanated something beautifully attractive. There was peace in His presence, poise in His manner, and power in His touch. His genuineness and authenticity was not only attractive, but also persuasive. Men, women, and children feasted on His simple yet profound teachings. As Jesus spoke, more and more pressed in to hear principles of the kingdom of heaven. The crowd was mesmerized as He utilized everyday examples to illustrate out of this world realities. Somehow, Jesus made the complex simple and clarified the confusing.
Who knew that so much truth could be illustrated by a farmer, his seeds, and various types of soil (Mark 4:1-20)? Who knew that a lamp could shine the light of truth and meaning into the heart (Mark 4:21-25)? Who knew that a tiny mustard seed, barely visible, could highlight the Christian growth experience (Mark 4:30-34)?
As if Jesus had only taught for a few minutes, the crowd’s appetite for truth, though well-fed, was not satisfied. They hungered for more. But Jesus, knowing the benefit of rest and reprieve, bade the disciples to weigh anchor and head for the other side. As they rowed in reflection, Jesus fell asleep. Then, the unforeseen happened.
“The evening had been calm and pleasant, and quiet rested upon the lake; but suddenly darkness overspread the sky, the wind swept wildly down the mountain gorges along the eastern shore, and a fierce tempest burst upon the lake.” – Ellen G. White (Desire of Ages, 334)
We may dislike them. But, if we listen, God speaks in and through the storm-tossed episodes of our lives. He shares secrets in our storms. What are these secrets? God whispers to us: Sometimes, I will permit storms to rise. The tone of the text suggests the disciples’ storm arose suddenly. What about yours? Was there a meteorological warning? Out of nowhere, you fell ill. All of a sudden, tragedy struck. Just like that, the glass shattered. And all this with God’s permission.
It’s not easy being God. Being God of the universe comes with awesome responsibility. God, too, exercises stewardship. His exercise is beyond calculation. He manages the affairs of this world, balancing justice and mercy without inequity. When God permits storms, it is after He has taken inventory of every intersecting possibility, oppositional threat, and miscellaneous footnote. In other words, God studies before He sanctions.
In the storm God says: Sometimes, I will allow storms to rage. Boats don’t begin to sink as soon as a storm rises. The storm must carry on for a while before it begins to sink. Their combined strength and collective efforts were fruitless against such a storm. You’ve been there haven’t you? Try as you might, no employment opportunities. You explored all pathways toward healing, yet the sickness rages. You’ve prayed morning, noon, and night for the wayward child, but the child cannot seem to find her way home. She still rages.
Speaking to Storms
It is in the midst of a raging storm that we mingle our woeful cry with Peter, James, and John exclaiming “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” One version says, “Teacher, don’t You care if we drown?” The disciples were terrified by the thought of breathing their last breath before being swallowed by the mirky deep. Their fear resonates with ours doesn’t it? Uncertainty can be unsettling. Uncertainty and fear is nearly paralyzing.
It is during these moments, when the risen storm rages that God speaks sweetly: Sometimes, I will command the storm to rest. Jesus stood in the storm and restored sanity to the sky, stability to the sea, and serenity to the wind. While the words were spoken directly to the wind and waves, it was also a message of peace to the disciples. They could rest in His promise. They could live without fear and full of faith because of Jesus their Savior.
Are you in a storm right now? I have great news. It will not last. No storm does. Let Jesus stand in your boat. He still knows just what to say.