Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Looking three ways in a storm

signONE OF THE things I love about the Bible is how it’s a bit like a kaleidoscope. Just as the same crystals can be reformed in a new pattern when we twist the cylinder, so familiar words of Scripture may take on a whole new life as we turn the pages. It’s not contradiction but addition, discovering another piece for our God Gallery.

Such was the case for me recently as I contemplated the well-known story of Jesus calming a night storm on the Sea of Galilee. It had long been a compelling symbol for me of the awfulness of feeling alone in the storm, when it seems like you’re about to drown and God is asleep in the stern.

But revisiting the account in Luke 8 this past week, I saw something new that eased the frustration I have felt personally and for others struggling to come to terms with God’s apparent unconcern. With renewed vision, I saw that, in moments of crisis, it’s important to look in the right direction. For the disciples then, and for us as we face being swamped by health, financial, or relational storms now, there are three ways to respond.

Looking around. It’s all too easy for the circumstances to dominate our thinking and feeling. When the water’s sloshing into the boat, it’s natural to become somewhat fearful. But the disciples might have done well to take a moment to look to the stern where Jesus was asleep—on a cushion, Mark 4 tells us. Such apparent disinterest! But hang on a minute. If this storm was strong enough to strike fear into the hearts of seasoned fisherman, it would be enough to rouse somebody from a nap. So maybe it wasn’t that Jesus was unaware of what was going on; He just knew that it didn’t matter.

Similarly, God’s silence in your situation does not mean it’s passed Him by. But if it’s not enough to work—or wake—Him up yet, maybe you can dare to relax a bit. It may not feel or look like it, but He’s got this. Remember how, in another stormy night on the water (in Matthew 14), Peter was able to stay on the surface as long as he looked at Jesus; he only started to sink when he glanced down.

Looking back. The disciples didn’t wake Jesus so that they would have an extra pair of hands to help bail water. Having come to an end of their efforts, they knew that He was their only hope—and that He had intervened miraculously before. In the previous chapters of Luke they had seen Him raise a widow’s son, heal a centurion’s sick servant, and make a lame man walk. They knew He could do something like that and confound the physical world again.

What about the miracles in your life? How has God worked dramatically for you in the past? Remember those other occasions, and know that He can come through again in unexpected ways. Maybe He is waiting for you to come to an end of yourself and your efforts.

Looking ahead. They probably didn’t realize it until later, but their experience on Galilee was in some ways a foreshadowing of what lay ahead. Recall they had set out on the boat with Jesus because He wanted to “go across to the other side” (verse 22). There they would encounter the Gerasene demoniac, whose inner stormy waves Jesus would heal, demonstrating His authority over not only the physical world, but the spiritual realm as well.

Perhaps in your challenging circumstances are the seeds of something that will prove fruitful in unexpected ways. Like something He has already spoken to you about but which, in the face of the waves, you have temporarily forgotten.

Photo credit: Smabs Sputzer via Foter.com/CC BY

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