Scripture Reading for Friday, March 21, 2014
Reading: Mark 4:35-41
A Little Terrified
We all have storms we weather in life, unexpected gales of wind and rain that seem to arrive out of nowhere and leave a mess in their wake. In the case of the disciples the storm they faced was a literal one; a water coming over the side, we may need to bale the boat, kind of storm. Either type of storm can cause fear.
After I learned to swim there are only handful of times when water scared me. One of those was a time adrift on a jet-ski. The swells had become larger than I could see over. Luckily we weren't far from an inlet and calmer waters, but having water bulging up over your head is scary even though there were no roaring winds and thundering skies.
How many times have we encountered the storms of life and felt as though God was asleep, that he was somewhere else while we suffered? Certainly Jesus was weary with so many demands weighing on him; and the nap was necessary because he was fully human. His response to the disciples fear seems a bit callous, "Why are you afraid?" Certainly the disciples perceived they were in danger, their senses told them that this might be the last voyage of Jesus and his disciples, their three-hour-tour doomed to wash ashore on some ancient Gilligan's Island. And yet they survived. Was Jesus admonishing them because Peter wasn't standing at the prow of the boat, chest stuck out, laughing at the storm?
When reading this story we often interpret Jesus' actions as supernatural, that is that Jesus did some kind of god-like magic and that fixed the problem. I would argue that there was nothing supernatural in the whole event. God's actions in nature are not somehow removed from nature itself and separate, rather because they are the actions of God they are part of the natural course of events, the source of nature itself. Certainly the stopping of the storm plays with our concepts of what is possible. Clearly it wasn't impossible, just not possible given the faith of the disciples.
God prefers to work in our lives by invitation. God does not force himself upon us, he is waiting for the invitation to join us, not because he couldn't intervene if he wanted; rather God respects the choices of his creation. The disciples weren't focused on inviting God into the situation to help bring about a resolution, instead they dwelt on their fear and in their fear they forgot that God was right there with them all along.
We often wait until the last minute to come to God with our struggles. We wait until the height of the storm to ask for God's intervention. What if we took advantage of the fact that God was with us all along? What if we realized that because God was with us, even the storm itself would pass and we would survive?
God, wake me to the constant presence of your holy spirit. Through the power of your Son you have brought about the means for our salvation. even when the real and figurative storms of our lives rage around us you are with us. Help us Lord.