Lord, today is nearly behind me. It was a full one, and I am exhausted. Thank you for the gift of your word, the Bible, sitting beside me, filled with words of wisdom and encouragement. Thank you for the grace I experienced today, for answered prayers, and for opportunities to be challenged and to grow in grace. Forgive me my trespasses, as I forgive those who trespassed against me today.
Today I’m closing out this chapter of Mark, so read Mark 4:35-41 several times. What strikes you? If you’re only seeing things you’ve seen in the past, try to take a different perspective on this passage. Make notes about anything you think as you read.
“On that day, when evening had come…” Jesus had just spent the day teaching a huge crowd of people. He was in a boat, they were on land. He taught parable after parable in an effort to explain the kingdom of God. It’s like a sower who went out to sow some seeds, and discovered that the condition of the soil in which the seeds fell bore a remarkable effect on that seed’s produce. It’s like a lamp, not to be hidden, but to be “made manifest.” It’s like a man scattering seeds in the ground and, after many days and nights, reaping the harvest—even though he doesn’t know how those seeds grew. It’s like a mustard seed: one of the smallest seeds of all, yet growing into a tree under which other plants might flourish, and on which birds can rest.
He has been talking all day, projecting like a Broadway actor to a full house, and he is tired. When he gets into the boat with his friends, finally, he is ready to sleep.
This is an interesting passage for me today. I had to leave my house fairly early this morning, because I had an all-day rehearsal. I am in a play called “Steel Magnolias,” and my role is one that requires me to be on stage, on my feet, for almost the entire play. There are only three pages in the script when I’m not on stage, and when I am on stage, I’m standing. Today’s rehearsal was six hours long, so for six hours, I was on my feet, speaking lines as loudly as I could to “fill the house.” By the time I got home this evening, I was physically and mentally tired. My voice was strained. My brain was a bit foggy, from trying to remember all those lines. In short, even as I sit and type this, I am beat.
And then I opened my Bible and read about how Jesus, after a full day on his feet, speaking to a huge crowd, was in a boat. Sleeping. Because he was tired.
The rest of the story is very familiar. He’s in the stern, asleep “on a cushion.” He’s not worried about a thing, not even when a storm arises. But when his disciples wake him, he rebukes the wind and says to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And they obey.
The wind and the sea obey Jesus.
There are two things in this passage that really mean a lot to me tonight. First, I just appreciate the timing of when I read this passage. I can feel something of the fatigue Jesus might have felt that night. The last thing in the world I want to do right now is talk to more people. I just want to sleep. I love that I’m reading a passage of scripture where I really feel like I can empathize with Jesus, which tells me, more importantly, that HE can empathize with ME.
But I am also impressed, once again, by the fact that the wind and the sea and all of creation obey Jesus. The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. In him, we live and move and have our being.
This encourages me in theory, but it also encourages me because I got to see a glimpse of nature obeying Jesus tonight. I just got off the phone with a friend of mine whose uncle has been in a coma for weeks. His family has been facing the decision of whether to take him off life support or not. His prognosis has been very, very dim. And yesterday, after several very dark weeks and torrents of tears, he defied all odds. Yesterday, he came out of his coma and is showing remarkable signs of improvement. The storm this family has been in seems to have quieted. As many people have been praying for them, they’ve gotten a break.
Jesus still calms storms.
I’m not facing an massive storms in my life right now. In fact, I’m enjoying a season of peace. It’s busy, and I’m tired, but there is peace. However, many of my close friends are in the midst of terrible storms, dealing with cancer (so many of my friends are currently battling cancer!), massive fire destruction, unemployment, children suffering from various serious illnesses, divorce, and more. So, while I enjoy the relative calm of this season, I pray daily, fervently, for Jesus to calm these other storms. And I am encouraged to join Jesus, at rest in the stern of the boat, and trust that, even as the wind and the waves obey him, so will these other destructive forces of nature. What storms do you need to trust Jesus to calm today?