When the storm comes...
The kids and I had a discussion this week about the story of Jesus calming the storm in the bible. It was fun to hear their perspectives and what they thought about the situation. As I sat later during the day pondering the story and reading the passage in the bible (Matthew 8:23-27) it suddenly struck me, JESUS WAS SLEEPING. I’ve heard this story many times and have heard many sermons on it, but it struck me again, that JESUS WAS SLEEPING. Now this storm wasn’t a quiet little rain like we’ve had this week, or a few bolts of lightning. This storm was GREAT. It says that, “there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves”. I grew up on the lake and one activity we enjoyed doing was taking the canoe out. And of course, one activity we would like to do while out in the canoe was to swamp it to see if we could get it to either sink or have us fall out. Swamping a boat is HARD. It takes some serious wave action to get the waves up and over the side of the boat (and we had just a small canoe). So this storm was not a slight wind that was blowing, you can only imagine the chaos and fear that was rising because of this great storm.
And yet, Jesus was sleeping. In the middle of this chaos, and I’m assuming people yelling, running around, clambering to make sure the boat doesn’t sink, he is sleeping. Because he was completely tired and exhausted? Maybe. But I think even in his sleep Jesus was showing us, teaching us about who God is. How do we feel when “great storms” arise in our lives? How many nights do we lay there awake having thoughts swirling through our mind? It’s hard to get good “sleep” when we are being tossed around by a storm in this life. But Jesus knew the storm was just superficial, he knew that he could trust in the goodness and the will of God, he knew that this storm was just a part of the plan to reveal God’s glory and might.
How can we get to a place where we are able to sleep during a great storm? Where we are able to sit at the table that has been prepared for us in the presence of our enemies? Colossians 2:6-7 says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving”. I love the imperatives in this passage. Have you received Christ Jesus? Then WALK IN HIM. And this word for walk means to complete a full circle. It means from start to finish, we are revolving around Christ Jesus. Walking feels calm, feels like there’s time to converse, to talk, to really get to know each other. If we spend the time walking with Christ, we begin to dig deep and form our roots. My mom has a huge garden and we would spend each spring carefully planting vegetables, and we would harvest them in the fall. I always enjoyed pulling the carrots because it was so interesting to me to see how the carrot or root formed. There were some that formed DEEP in the ground and were difficult to pull up. This is how we should be when studying God’s word, intentionally digging deep to form our roots so that we aren’t upended by the winds and storms in this life. We aren’t washed away because our roots are dug deep into God’s truths.
How can we become rooted? Established? We need to spend time with God, learning about him, growing in our wisdom, praying and conversing with him. We’ve been studying prayer on Tuesday evenings and this past week we talked about unceasing prayer. What does that mean? What does it look like? How do we do that? There’s a quote by Henry Nouwen that painted a great picture about unceasing prayer. “Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts- beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful- can be thought in the presence of God. Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves us from a self-centered monologue to a God-centered dialogue”
So as we purposefully dig our roots deep, as we desire and strive to constantly be aware of God’s presence, we will find ourselves being able to sleep more and more when life’s storms try to swamp our boat because we have assurance in where our hope lies.