Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”
In the Mark (4:37-38) account of this event we find that “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.”
Jesus is a man who knows how to rest! He takes the opportunity that presents itself – a cushion in the back of a boat. It doesn’t sound all that comfortable at the best of times. So how is it that Jesus could sleep in a sinking boat in the middle of a violent storm? I find this hard to get my head around, but I also find myself concluding that although probably very tired at the end of the day, Jesus was also a man fully at peace, trusting and resting in the Father.
The disciples who were experienced fishermen had no doubt faced storms before, but this one must have been extremely bad to frighten them so much. When they woke Jesus, shouting at him to save them from drowning, they must have expected that he could in fact save them! It’s unclear how, because they certainly weren’t expecting him to still the storm.
Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith, and it seems apparent that they still didn’t fully comprehend who he really was.
What about us? What is our faith like? What is our response to the storms of life? Do we become worried or afraid? Or do we remember that Jesus is in the boat with us, and put our trust in him?
Yesterday I wrote about the Sabbath being a day of delight in the Lord. And one way I experienced that delight was to explore and photograph wild flowers growing by the side of the road. These tiny flowers are quite something in their unique detail and beauty.
It’s late in the season and some of the native orchids have already sprung up and died off. There’s only a small window of opportunity to see them before they’re gone and you have to wait for another year.
It reminds me that we are far more precious to God than the wild flowers, so if he cares for them enough to dress them so beautifully, how much more will he take care of our needs.
If we trust him instead of worrying about where and how we’re going to get our needs met, our trust leads us into rest.
“… I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.
I wish I could just flick a switch and suddenly I’d know how to rest well. I’d trust you to take care of me through the challenges in my day, instead of getting stressed trying to sort it out on my own.
I’d be relaxed and focused on the most important things, not worrying about every little thing.
I’d be present in the moment instead of fixating on past mistakes or procrastinating for fear of future ones.
But that’s not how you work. You’re not interested in quick fixes or short cuts.
You’re interested in relationship and long-term transformation.
You’re interested in walking with me. You’re interested in teaching me how to walk with you, unworried and unhurried.
I am under renovation. A work in progress. Renovation takes time and things are messy. But what a transformation when the renovation is done.
Bard stands with his son atop a ruined, burning tower, clutching the last black arrow that can pierce Smaug’s hide and bring the dragon down. Everything around them in Laketown is on fire, the windlass required to launch the enormous arrow has been destroyed, and Bard is forced to MacGyver his way out of the situation using his son’s shoulder to balance and aim the arrow.
Bard’s son Bain is panting and quivering with fear as Smaug tells Bard that the only thing he can look forward to is his own death. The boy looks over his shoulder at Smaug, scales glowing and enormous wings beating, coming for them, ready to set them alight with his breath.
Bard calls back his son’s attention.
“Bain, look at me. You look at me.”
Bain turns back to his father, and even though he is still afraid, he keeps his eyes fixed on Bard, his back squared to the terrifying Smaug. Bard sights on the one chink in Smaug’s scaly armour, hauls back and releases the arrow …
This scene from The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies, more than any other, was the image I took away with me from the cinema. That moment hit me in the chest as I was watching the film.
“You look at me.”
That’s Jesus’ call to me – to fix my eyes on him and not the things that make me afraid. He is asking me to trust him, to watch what he is doing, and to join him in it.
“You look at me.”
It’s his call to you too.
… And let let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.