35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” [NRSV]
If I have trouble sleeping, my retreat is the sofa in the living room and not the over-stuffed reclining Lazy Boy™ in the den. The living room sofa is near the big window that overlooks the darken yard with steams of street light between the trees that reveals a peaceful silent scene that is a contagious place for dreamy visions. That living room sofa, while comfortable for sitting for a decent conversation after dinner is not a good sleeping sofa. It is too short for a comfortable all-night sleep and the pillows are not the right size for good cranial support. But this space is separated from the glowing television and midnight bathroom traffic jams. I can stand to sleep there just long enough to benefit from the dark, cool refreshment that makes the bed most inviting and comfortable by comparison.
If I attempt to sleep in the snuggly sofa in the den I find myself turning on the television and watching some old move that I would not otherwise watch and awake to the blaring barking of an infomercial and a stiffness in my back that each require my alert attention before stumbling back to the bed to recover.
Have you ever taken the worries and fears of the day to bed with you? Instead of counting sheep we try counting troubles and obligations, responsibilities and impossibilities, or fears and failures get replayed in our minds and we hope to wear out our minds, which bring quite unsettled dreams if we even remember what we dreamed in what felt like a fifteen minute nap that took six hours to find.
Have you ever watch a child sleep ever so sweetly in the warmth of a favorite blanket, clutching the familiar yet ragged stuffed, plush friend and watch the deep, smooth and peaceful breaths of tranquil relaxation? They are so peaceful we want to shake just a little to make sure they are still with us in some envious desire to share their carefree bliss..
Have you ever fought back sleep, straining to remain present with someone ill or even near their final breath? Wanting to hear the certainty of life giving air and afraid that this next labored breath might be just one of ten thousand last breaths, or not. Fatigues and dazed we think that if we remain alert that we could postpone or add a single breath to a loved-one’s life by our breathing or holding our breath.. And our bodies hunger for rest that we deny them in the name of love and the exercise of grief.
It is nearly impossible to place ourselves “in the boat” with the disciples and Jesus. In reading and hearing this text from Mark, we have the opportunity to step into the storm with the disciples but we do it only with our awareness of Jesus’s strength and trustworthiness from our perspective of faith, our knowing and trusting the whole story. It is easy from our vantage point to say, ‘Trust Jesus’ or ‘You’re going to be ok’.
But things are not always so simple. Things are not always ok. Our storms rage and our troubles toss our lives around. And we doubt, fear, question and panic as though we have no faith at all. It seems simple to go and find Jesus from out point of view.
As a parent it does seem that on those rare occasions when all seems well and we anticipate sleeping in the next morning with no demands upon our time, that we encounter the nights that children have nightmares, the dogs sense some intruding squirrel just outside the door, or the stormy night sets off the weather alert alarm and everyone ends up in the bathroom for forty minutes, that make voice the dreams of a peaceful night. Our prayers are for the morning to come.
The passage is about sleep but not so much about our sleep. It is about the times and circumstances where we wonder if God is asleep at the wheel. People are hungry in deep poverty and famine and we ask, “Does God care that so many are hungry?” Millions of parent-less children in Africa die from AIDS, “Is God aware?” Countries are in economic turmoil and on the edge of financial collapse, “Is God still around?” Nations at war, terrorism threatening at home and around the globe, “What is Jesus doing asleep when we need him most?”
There answer(s) come with two assurances. 1) We living in a world where storms, not of our doing threaten to kill and destroy. We enter somethings knowingly and some catch us off-guard, either way we are powerless alone. Which begs #2) It is when the disciples recognize they cannot save themselves that the finally turn to Jesus for saving.
Ah Ha! The Peace, in the storm is found, when turning to Jesus.
It does not prevent storm, fear and terror, but it is ever present along with, during and after. They question is: Q: What if at the first sign of trouble the disciples had gone to Jesus? What if they had gone to Jesus first before waiting to the last?
Over and over the miracles of Jesus show people who have tried every remedy, waiting many years, struggle through rejections, fear, or shame finally ask Jesus into their lives and new life, whole life is found.
Is this the peace that Jesus offers. In our storms Jesus finds the sofa and waits for us to come to his side. Lord Jesus help us, save us, hold us… give us your peace.
Jesus waits, don’t be afraid to wake him, Again and Again, His rest is ours if we ask… What are you waiting for? Find Peace in Him who calms every storm. Amen.