Twice this week this text of Jesus calming the storm has come up through various outlets for me. Perhaps it is because I need to reflect on the words and their meaning more deeply. Earlier this week I was at a prayer meeting where we practiced Visio Divina. This is a practice where you pray and reflect using images or other types of media. The picture was a painting by Rembrandt of the disciples and Jesus in the boat as water is pouring over the sides. A few things struck me. One of them that I saw in the painting was that more than half of the disciples were centered around Jesus at the stern of the boat, but there was a lone disciple at the bow holding up the mast, straining under its weight as the ropes holding it snapped and billowed through the stormy air. I can be like that disciple. My striving can be ever so present. But so is Jesus. Always present. Always beckoning.
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!” (Mark 4:37-41)
The disciples were terrified. Jesus, don’t you care if we drown? They were madly trying to keep their small fishing vessel afloat, while Jesus slept on a cushion. Seriously Jesus? Don’t you care about us? How could you sleep at a time like this? Do you ever feel like Jesus has fallen asleep in the midst of a watery storm in your own life or the world, peacefully resting on a cushion while the world falls apart around Him? Perhaps. But look at what Jesus says to His disciples after calmly standing up and rebuking the wind and waves. He says “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Ouch! That hurts. Jesus rebukes the fury of nature and then turns to the disciples who obviously have just not ‘gotten it’ yet and question how they could have spent so much time in the bodily presence of the living God Himself, Jesus Christ, but still be so afraid and have so little faith. I wonder what it’s like to have faith as small as a mustard seed that is strong enough to move mountains?
After all of this, Mark 4:41 says that the disciples were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” I wonder what life would look like if we took our concerns and trials and used them to propel us towards love for others? I wonder what would it look like if we focused our mind on the Scriptures and on who God is in His very nature instead of the lack in our lives and our world? How would our lives be changed? How could we change a life around us?
God has us covered. He sees us and He knows our needs, He knows our hearts and He knows our minds. He wants to renew our minds into the likeness of Christ. Amidst every storm we face Jesus calls out “Quiet! Be still!” He calls out to us to quiet our mind and be still with Him, rest in Him, and listen to His still small voice inside of us. The voice that not only calls out, as Jesus did to the wind and waves that day….but the voice that also whispers to our striving, our longing, our deepest place “Quiet. Be still.”