I have the absolute pleasure of leading the Kids’ Ministry here at CitySalt Church. And each week I am moved into extreme thankfulness and awe, just by being with our kids! I love seeing how they experience God, and getting to rehearse the Truths I have known my whole life with them, while seeing it through their eyes. I feel like it gives me a front row seat and such a fresh perspective, reminding me to “be like a child.” (Matt. 18:3)
And though teaching the kids isn’t all about me, God sure does meet me in the middle of it. Each week as I sit with Him and pray and get direction for the next Sunday lesson, He speaks to me and shows me more about Himself and the Word. It’s so fun.
Most recently, as we’ve been looking at Jesus’ life, He has been highlighting the relationship aspect to me. I have been struck anew by both Jesus’ relationship with the Father and the beautiful way they interact, as well as Jesus’ relationship with His friends.
My latest example is the story when Jesus calms the storm (Mark 4:35-41). A few really key points jumped out and grabbed me, and I am excited to share them with you.
The first thing that hit me was the disciples. Lately, I have been really relating to those guys! As you read , and put yourself into their sandals, it helps to get a feel for what was going on. Jesus had just finished preaching all day, and then had stepped aside with the disciples and explained the parables to them. He was tired! In verse 36 it says they took Him “just as He was” in the boat, and they headed across to the other side of the sea which was more remote. Jesus lay down in the back of the boat, with His head on a hard leather pillow, and slept.
Next, of course, the storm hits! And the disciples are freaking out! They had been on this sea before, and I am sure had seen storms come and go. For them to be fearful for their lives, you know it was a big deal. This is where it’s really fun to put yourself right in the story – with the boat going up and down, the huge waves, and the storm crashing all around. I wonder who finally decided to wake Jesus up? I wonder if they had a discussion first? Maybe they were hesitant to wake Him, because they knew He needed sleep? You know they were scared and possibly frustrated. You can tell they are upset with Him when they do finally wake Him, saying, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
How many times in my life have I looked at circumstances that I have been praying for, that are HARD, and my prayers have turned into rebukes? “Jesus, why aren’t You doing anything? Why isn’t this changing? Why aren’t they healed? Don’t you care?” Let’s just say, I can relate to the disciples! Can you?
Jesus, of course, wakes up and rebukes the storm, saying, “Quiet! Be still!” (v. 39) and the wind died down and the storm was completely calm. What would that have been like to see? Again, the disciples were familiar with the water, and had most likely seen lots of storms come and go. Never had they seen one immediately calm down at a command! Wow!
The last part of this story is Jesus’ response to His friends. He does not talk about the storm. He instead asks them questions. See, they had been with Him through a lot, had walked miles and miles by His side, had heard Him teach and had seen Him perform many miracles already. So He used questions to help them see what they were believing…Jesus asked, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (v. 40)
This is the point of the story that I love. As I put myself in the story, I realized Jesus did not mention the storm or talk about the circumstances at all. He was reminding them what it’s really all about – having our eyes on Him, having faith, and believing Truth despite what is happening around us. You see, they had expectations. They expected His love to look a certain way, they expected Him to do certain things, and they judged His heart based on what they perceived as the outcome. His questions were reminding them who He was, and allowing them experience that Truth in the midst of the storm.
Again, I can relate! When I am praying with someone who is hurting or a circumstance that is complicated, I can focus on the storm. I can come up with the perfect plan or solution and then look for Jesus to accomplish it. I expect His love and actions to line up with my expectations. And when it doesn’t look like that’s happening, what do I do? I can get frustrated, I can doubt, I can start to partner with fear and question Jesus’ love. “Don’t you care?” I know I have certainly done all of these things.
What I take away from this story, though, is that Jesus didn’t say, “I will calm every storm in your life.” He instead directed the disciples’ focus back to Himself, and what they knew about Him. This highlights the real storm, which is not the circumstances but what is going on inside of us. The battle between fear and faith, between believing God is good and judging Him by the circumstances. The battle between knowing His heart for us and letting our fear be the lens to how we see Him.
There is a never-ending supply of storms. Jesus said, “In this world there will be trouble,” (John 16:33) but He doesn’t leave it there. He goes on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This is where we can place our hope and our trust. His love will never fail us. In the midst of the storm, we can turn our eyes to Him and we can rehearse the truth: He is good. His love never fails. With Him all things are possible.
Thank You, Jesus, that You are with us in the storms of our lives. Thank You that we don’t have to rely on circumstances and we can let go of our expectations, and instead put our eyes on You. Thank You for the reminder of who You are, that “even the wind and waves obey You.” (v. 41) I bless each of us with the ability to tuck into You in the midst of the storms, as you help us live in the reality of Your love.
Matthew 18:3 (NIV)
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 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. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
John 16:33 (NIV)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”