a furious storm came up on the lake,
so that the waves swept over the boat.
But Jesus was sleeping.
I love this story. It's one of my very favorites. I think of this story sometimes when I'm falling asleep. I thought of this story this week when I was happily dozing off at Holly Hill....
So, to set the scene, it happened like this: It had been a busy few days. Jesus and His disciples were leaving Capernaum after going seemingly non-stop... meeting and healing people such as the centurion's servant and Peter's mother-in-law. These guys were probably a little worn out. They'd seen a lot the past 48 hours.
So there they were... in a boat... crossing the lake... heading for yet another destination. They were tired. You tired? ... Yeah, I'm beat... (Yawn.) And suddenly, in the midst of their tired lives, here came the rain. Suddenly, without anticipating it, they found themselves in the middle of an angry, raging storm. Waves lapped up to the boat. Then into the boat. Water sprayed in their eyes and the foamy roar drowned out their cries. They were in trouble... they were about to go down!... and... wait... where's Jesus? He's asleep. They're bailing water and hanging on as waves pitch the boat and Jesus... He's asleep. In the midst of the storm, He's asleep.
You're smirking, aren't you? Maybe nodding a little? Why? Because. Because it's happened to all of us - this very same thing. You know, you're living your life ... a little busy, a little tired... but you're making it. You're in the boat, moving along to your next destination. And suddenly -before you even realize it, really - you're in the middle of a storm. And as the waves get stronger and the water gets deeper, you realize: I'm about to sink. Where is Jesus? Where is God when I need Him most? I'm drowning over here and He's oblivious. Some "Savior"...
Let's go back to that boat on that stormy lake. Here's the entire story: Then he [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him! (Matthew 8:23-27, NIV)
Did you catch that? Did you? It's right there, in black and white:
#1) Jesus got into the boat first. Knowing a storm was brewing, Jesus didn't say, "You guys go on ahead and I'll catch up". Knowing what His disciples would face, Jesus didn't let them venture out first. Or alone. He was in that boat before they ever stepped in. (And by the way, these guys were fishermen by trade before Jesus called them to be "fishers of men". The fact that the men - with all their experience at sea - were scared meant that this must have been a BIG storm. Big enough to frighten them into thinking they would drown.) But it didn't matter. Jesus was already in the boat.
#2) Jesus knew the storm was coming and He still got in. Knowing they would be hit with a storm, Jesus could have delayed their trip. He could have gotten out on the water earlier... or later. So why do you suppose He led them into the boat knowing they could drown? To show them. To show them that no matter the storm... no matter the ferocity of the waves... He's there. He's in that boat before they ever were. And He's Lord of all: their fear, the waves, the storm. He was - and is - in control.
#3) Jesus let the disciples turn to Him before He acted. I find it interesting that the Bible says Jesus was asleep. (How do you suppose He slept through the storm?) Point is, Jesus was there, but He waited until the disciples came to Him to take action. He could have stayed awake and calmed the storm at the first sign of distress. He could have stepped in when the disciples got scared. But He didn't. He let Himself fall asleep. He let those big, tough fishermen get scared enough to come to Him before He stepped in.
I can't tell you why it oftentimes seems we battle things alone. I don't know why it sometimes feels that God is asleep while our storm is raging. I do know that, despite what we feel, He's there, at-the-ready to act. Sometimes we just need to call upon Him.
#4) Jesus got up. I love that... "then Jesus got up". After giving them the, "Where's your faith? Why are you scared?" line, Jesus got up. He wasn't too busy. He didn't say, "Oh, sorry, you got yourself into this storm and now you'll have to ride it out." He didn't shrug, "Awh, that's life. It'll be okay," and go back to sleep. He didn't ignore them, roll over, and start snoring. He got up. Why? Because He's a getting-up, rising-again, going-before and standing-alongside kind of God. When you call, He answers. When you're scared, He's already there. When you're drowning, He's in control. He was then, and He is still today. And that "we're going to drown!" kinda storm you're riding through is nothing to Him. He got there before you did. He speaks and all is calm. Even the winds and the waves obey.
Man, I love that story. I like to think it's the story of my life, too. Messy and thrilling. Scary to me, a shoo-away storm to Him. But other than that, I love to think about Jesus and what He did. I love to read about what happened while He was sleeping....
Monday Moment is just a little devotional read to help kick-start your week. See you next Monday!