Prepare Our Hearts – October 7

A Devotional from Central Presbyterian Church.Find another day here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Mark 4:35-41

 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Growing up in Pennsylvania, the most frightening part of a thunderstorm was either being struck by lightning or the resulting flood waters that followed the heavy rains. My only experience with tornadoes was watching the Wizard of Oz performed by my high school theater. When I moved to Alabama in 2006, I quickly became acquainted with storm sirens. While the first time I heard piercing sound filling the air I was alarmed and moved for cover, I quickly learned from the locals that most of the time there was nothing to be afraid of; often when the alarm sounded my neighbors would not even come in from yard work. A few years after moving into our first home, a small refurbished ranch built atop a concrete slab, the siren sounded once again, although outside everything was eerily quiet. Just as we turned on the TV to see where the storm was heading, our dog jumped on the back of the couch to angrily growl and bark at the freight-train like sound like suddenly filled the air. Meg and I hurried to the hallway, but almost as quickly as it came, it was gone. Just a few minutes later, we emerged from our hiding place to discover a neighborhood riddled with fallen trees and flipped over vehicles. Miraculously, only a few people were injured, and from then on even our skeptical neighbors started to pay attention to the sirens.

After a long day of teaching and ministering to the multitudes gathered on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, followed by a meal filled with answering the questions of the disciples, Jesus was physically exhausted. He commanded the disciples to take them the seven miles across the lake to the more remote area of Gerasenes. As they set out across the water, more boats began to join them, filled with people desperate to not let Jesus, already fast asleep in the back of the boat, slip away.

At least four of the disciples had earned their sea-legs fishing the Sea of Galilee, cutting their teeth on the sudden storms which resulted from cold fronts racing in over the mountains to the east and dropping thousands of feet down onto the warm air pocket of the small fresh water lake that sits nearly 700 feet below sea level. Now with the wind howling, the waves breaking, and their vessel quickly filling with water, even the seasoned veteran fishermen were coming apart at the seams. It was an all-hands-on-deck situation, but someone was missing.

The boat continued to sink as the water continued to rise, and the frantic disciples found their teacher still sleeping on a pillow. They aroused Him in a panic and accused Him of apathy: “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Translation: “We’re dying here man, and you’re just sleeping! You’ve healed the sick and cast out demons, do something!”

Jesus is the epitome of a non-anxious presence in the midst of the storm, so He got up, “rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Instead of grabbing an oar or bucket, with just a few spoken words the wind and the waves ceased on the water but the storm continued to rage in the hearts of the disciples.

Now it was Jesus’ turn to ask the questions, “‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him.’” The disciples were now more terrified on the glassy sea than they were in the surging storm. They could not comprehend what they had just witnessed and questioned the identity of their shipmate, but the wind and waves knew His voice well; it was the very same that had spoken them into existence at the beginning of creation.

The disciples had already seen the miracles and heard the sage-words of Jesus, but this display of power caused them to question everything about everything. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the one who would come to set Israel free from Roman captivity, to restore them to their rightful place of religious independence, but His true mission had far deeper implications than political freedom.

Like the disciples, too often we become preoccupied with our present circumstances and allow our anxieties to seize control. We think that Jesus is only concerned with our eternal destination and as a result we live our lives as functional atheists, believing that everything else is up to us. In our deepest moments of despair, we may even utter the same blasphemy as the disciples: “Jesus, don’t you care about us?” But just like the disciples, when our eyes are opened to the true identity of Jesus, when we see Him for who He really is, that He is not just aware of our personal situation but sovereign over the entire universe, we can do nothing less than worship Him in fear and trembling.

Just as He asked the disciples, He asks of us, “Why are you still afraid? Have you still no faith?” Jesus never promised that He would remove us from the storms of life, but that He would be present with us through the storms. If the wind and the waves can obey His voice, how much more can we?

Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, we thank You that You are the one who commands the wind and the waves. Lord we confess that when the storms of life begin to rage we are quick to forget Your power, love, and care for us. We ask that You would open our eyes to Your true identity and help us to see You in all of Your glory, that we might worship and bow down to You, our maker and redeemer. Forgive us our sins and help us to walk in the freedom of Your grace. We ask in Your mighty name, Amen.