It was a busy day in the midst of Jesus’ ministry tour. Word had traveled and His life was now in the public eye. His life held celebrity-like status now, and thus he was swamped with responsibility and his speaking schedule was surprisingly jam-packed. He had come to the lake to retreat but ended up teaching in parables all day before a large crowd that had followed him.
In the days leading up to that moment at the lake, He had been busy with miraculous healings, the appointing of disciples, and dealing with accusations from family and lawyers (sounds exhausting, right?) The crowd following Him had grown bigger than expected. And as exciting as it likely was for Him to be in this rich season of ministry, reaching the masses and teaching to so many, He was getting tired.
I know the feeling. Being in a crowd all day, at some point I’d want to retreat too. I can relate to Jesus’ desire to get in a boat with close friends, get out away from the masses, and let the sway of the water lull me into a restful nap.
“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!’ Mark 4: 35-41
Many would look at this chapter in the book of Mark and think that the message is just simply to not be afraid. We might read this and feel bad about having fear. If we are critically looking at the disciples in this story for our primary lesson, the takeaway might just be “fear equals little faith.” The beauty of Jesus’ teachings though, is that often the lesson for the masses holds something deeper to be noticed by those who are intimately connected to Him – particularly those striving to live like Him.
Friends let’s not look at this verse and just beat ourselves up for being like the disciples and having fear during life’s storms, hope is hard when the storms come, and they do come. Our faith will be tested. Instead, let’s look to this verse with fresh eyes to teach us how to be more like Jesus for others.
Notice that Jesus didn’t awake and remove their feelings of fear; He awoke and dealt with the chaos causing it. Jesus didn’t awake to help them ride it out; He literally stopped the storm.
He brought calm and stillness.
Do you believe that you have the power within you to calm a storm?
As believers our friends should know to come to us when storms hit because they know that we are bearers of peace.
Maybe you won’t have the same Jesus-power to stop the wind. But when hope is hard for our beloveds, perhaps you can have Jesus-power to rid a bit of chaos on that person’s plate. As bearers of Jesus’-love, you have the ability to bring calm and stillness.
This is good news for the ‘doer’ types among us; and intimidating for the ‘feelers.’
Believe it! You can be the bearer of calm when chaos hits in a friend’s life.
So, if they awake you when waves have overtaken them, are you prepared to bring the power of peace? If we take a look back in the book of Mark, I think we can take some cues from Jesus that helped to set Him up for success for when this very moment of need arose.
In simplified terms, He took a nap. I believe that’s an important piece of the story to note. Remember, Jesus had a full day! I cannot help but wonder: would he have been able to stop the chaos without that bit of rest?
In the third chapter, verse nine we read: “Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him.”
Plan for power to be yours. Pay attention to what you need for effectiveness.
Maybe you are swamped with responsibility. Maybe your itinerary is packed with serving others. Do you have a retreat plan in place like Jesus did? Do you have a boat? Do you have a close circle of folks to get the boat ready should you need a retreat? Maybe your practical step isn’t to go buy an actual boat today, but perhaps you can have a conversation with your spouse or close friends so that they know how to serve you when you ask to “have the boat ready.”
When life or people are crowding too close around you, it’s good to have an escape plan. It need not be a lavish plan; Jesus didn’t ask for a yacht, just a small boat at the ready. Don’t go letting guilt seep into taking care of yourself in this way either. Just as God used Jesus’ retreat boat to grow the faith of the disciples, your retreat can be a place of great miracles too.
Let’s face it: the disciples would not have been in the path of the storm if they had not been following Jesus’ lead. In serving Him, they found themselves in this path of great danger. There was a beautiful mutuality in the relationship that I think is just how God intends us to serve one another. The disciples, in helping their friend Jesus, found themselves in harms way; but this love meant they had a power present in the boat that they weren’t even aware of.
Hopers, take heart. The path can be grueling, yes. So be like Jesus and make room for rest and retreat in your lives, and watch how God uses that very practice to make you a bringer of miraculous peace. Watch and be awakened to your power to bring stillness and calm to the path of your beloveds.