WHEN THE STORM COMES

      Mark 4: 35-41

A storm at sea is an awesome experience. When I was a senior in high school, a leader in our youth group invited four of us to go deep-sea fishing with him as a graduation gift. We drove from our home in South Georgia to St. Mark’s Florida where he had chartered a fishing boat for the day. We were very excited as we went out on the Gulf of Mexico for this big adventure. It turned out to be more of an adventure than we had bargained for.

The charter boats usually went to the same fishing area, but our Captain instead of going straight out to sea turned to port and continued for about 20 miles. Evidently, he had heard that fish had been spotted in that area. It was a beautiful day and we caught a lot of fish, but when it was time to return to port the engine stopped running and could not be started again. This was before the time that radios were required on all fishing vessels.

A beautiful sunset turned into darkness. The sky was ablaze with stars. It was a beautiful sight until…about midnight. The stars were covered over with thick bellowing clouds and a strong wind began to blow. The surface of the sea was disturbed with frothy angry waves which were estimated to be about 8 feet in height. The thunder was deafening and the lightning was unlike I had ever seen before. The rain was intense. Our little charter boat was tossed up to heaven and down to hell in quick succession. This group of landlubbers who had never been to sea before held on for dear life for several hours dressed in our life preservers.  And then, the sea was quiet again. We waited for the Dawn and wondered what was happening back at home when we did not return.

After a while, we saw airplanes in the distance flying in circles looking for us. Finally, a boat appeared to tow us back into port. It was a beautiful sight to see our families waiting on the dock to greet us. It was a glorious reunion.

I can identify with the disciples who were in the storm on the Sea of Galilee. This Scripture passage comes alive in my mind.

Some of us here this morning have lived through hurricanes, tornadoes, and various weather disturbances. But most of us have lived through storms that were more ferocious than weather. 

THE STORMS OF THE SOUL

“And there arose of fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.” (v. 37)

Mark places this experience just after the teachings of what the kingdom is like in the parables of Jesus. Jesus had been standing in a boat teaching the people who had gathered on the shore. Perhaps the next day, he says to the disciples, “Let’s cross over to the other side.” Several other little boats joined them in the journey of 8 miles. When they were several miles out – that is when the storm hit.

This body of water is 680 feet below sea level. It is surrounded by mountains and hills and when the wind is compressed in this space the whole Lake can be lashed into a fury. The winds can be violent and can come down suddenly with great force. The Greek word used here is “seismos” which is the same word for earthquake. Their boat was filling with water and Jesus was asleep on a cushion in the stern.

It may sometimes seem to us that when we are going through a storm of the soul that Jesus is asleep. We can feel very alone and desolate with what we are facing. I want to share again with you a poem that Janice wrote when she was in the midst of a storm.

“The Tempest has raged around me so very long. In the crash of many waves, I’ve lost my song.

The black shrouded night obscures every star and ominous Shoals appear from afar.

I’m broken – I’m conquered, hope dies in my soul. Lord, do you not care that life is out of control.

Where is the beauty of yesterday’s calm when all of life evoked a song?

Where are you this moment? Perhaps asleep someplace, leaving me alone this tumult to face?

Do storms last forever? Does sorrow replace the joy I have known through your marvelous grace?

The Savior approaches. His gaze meets my eyes. “Oh why such small faith?” His eyes seem to sigh.

“Hush now, be still!” He says to the storm. “My child is too weary now let her alone!”

The proud waves have calmed. The winds cease their roar. The master has spoken – the storm is no more!”    (Janice Mims)

 

There are great lessons to be learned through such an experience. Janice also wrote a list of what she learned from the storm.

 

“We are never without a pilot when we know not how to steer.

We may have as much of God as we will.

Satan knows the value of the hedge (Job 3:23) ‘Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in?’

It is better to claim a few things specifically than a score vaguely.

The hardest ingredient in suffering is often time.

Let us take the weights as well as the wings.

God does not give us cheap victories.

Do not waste energy on the unknown.

Only “closet – overflow” can reach a another’s heart and need.

God’s reality is always greater than the facts.

The Robin sings not because of circumstances, but because of its nature.

Not overwork, but overflow!

The greater the difficulties - the easier for faith.”

 

Do you think the disciples learned lessons like these from this experience?

DOES GOD CARE?

“And he himself was in the Stern asleep on the cushion; and they awoke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’” (v. 38)

Each word that Mark uses to describe this experience is filled with meaning.

“Teacher” is how they viewed Jesus at this point in their experience. They had seen a few of his miracles and were amazed at his teachings, but did not see him for who he is. They knew that the God of the Old Testament could do mighty things. They knew that he could speak and whatever he said would happen, but they did not know that Jesus could do it.

Jesus was asleep in the midst of the storm. He was very tired physically from the demands that had been placed upon him. But because of who he was, he could rest comfortably in the Father’s hands.

The disciples awoke him and said, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” The implication is that they think Jesus is going to perish with them by being thrown into the sea. The idea is there also that they thought he might be able to help them. These were men who earned their living on this body of water and had experienced storms before, but this storm was likely the fierceness one that they had encountered. They were in danger of losing the boat as well as their lives.

There question, “Do you not care?” is one that we find ourselves asking of God.

When we do not see Jesus for who he is – the storm of the soul has the power to overwhelm us. But when you have been through a storm with him, the next one doesn’t seem quite so frightening. I can imagine that if the disciples were ever in this same situation again, they would know his mighty power to protect them. Later in their ministries, they would draw upon this experience and see him as Mighty God rather than as Teacher. Likewise, the more deeply as we know our Lord, the more confident we are in the midst of the storm. We know that the Lord does care and we know that he is with us no matter what we face.

THE PEACE OF HIS PRESENCE

“And being aroused, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And he said to them, ‘Why are you so timid? How is it that you have no faith?’”

Picture the scene: Jesus awakened and saw the fear in the eyes of the disciples. He saw the boat filling with water. He saw the waves boisterous all around them. He felt the force of the wind in his face. He heard the sound of urgency in their voices. It was an awesome moment. Jesus stood up and looked in the direction of the wind and said, “Hush, be calm!”

The little boat ceased to be cast about on the waves. They began to bail the water out and to steady their sail.  Soon, it was all over and they were sailing in a light breeze on to their destination.

But this created another storm in their minds. They were rebuked by Jesus for a lack of faith. He expected them to believe in him, but they had not come to see him for who he is. They were still at the “teacher” stage. They were in awe of what had happened and they were more afraid now than they were in the midst of the storm.

Notice how Mark describes it: “And they became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”

For the first time, they realized that they were in the presence of a very unique person. They had never seen anything like it. No human being can control a storm. But this man, that they had known as “Teacher” was far more than they could understand.

Now what does this say to us? It says that Jesus expects us to have faith in him. He wants us to turn to him when the storm comes for he is in this boat of life with us.  Although the winds are strong and the waves are huge, he has the power to control the winds and the waves of our lives. Our faith allows him to say, “Hush” to the storm that we are caught in. When we see him for who he is, he is able to give us an awareness of his presence which produces a glorious peace.  And the storm will cease. And life will go on.

“Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered.

The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled.

As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd.

A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner.

The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace?

A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power.

A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.” (Berit Kjos, A Wardrobe from the King, pp. 45-46.”

May this peace be yours!

PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!