On Fridays during this season of Lent, I'm posting readings from The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus and its companion devotional. Today's post is an excerpt from The Way: 40 Days of Reflection.
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:22-25)
Have you ever felt as if you were on a sinking ship in the middle of a storm? The winds howl. The waves crash over the bow of your ship. And you know you’re going down. I see a lot of people who are in the midst of storms, wondering if there’s any hope. At times I remind them of this magnificent story from the Gospels.
As followers of Jesus we believe he is always in the boat with us. He promises to be with me wherever I go. But there are times when it feels as though Jesus is asleep in my boat. Illness, tragedy, adversity, disappointment—these are all a part of life. At such moments we cry out to him, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”
After Jesus awoke and calmed the winds and the waves, he scolded his disciples: “Where is your faith?” I don’t think he was suggesting that the disciples could have calmed the winds and waves, if only they had faith. I think he was asking, “Why did you wake me up? Did you really think you would drown with me in the boat?”
Sometimes Jesus calms the winds and waves immediately. I’ve noticed that most often during my storms, the winds and waves take some time to die down. I call out to him, and then realize he’s in the boat with me. I remember to trust him and know that somehow he will see me through.
When my two daughters were small and there were storms at night, one or the other would inevitably awaken and come running down the hall to our bedroom, crying, “Daddy, Daddy, I’m scared of the storms!” We had a small couch in our room, and I would make a little bed for them. I’d sit on the floor next to them and say, “Daddy’s right here. You don’t have to be afraid.” Soon they were fast asleep. I didn’t stop the thunder and lightning, the wind or rains. Why, then, did my girls fall asleep with the storm raging? It’s because they knew their daddy was close by.
During the storms in my life, I cry out to the Lord. I trust that he’s in the boat with me and that he won’t let me drown. I commit my life, my ways, and my problems to him; and I find in him my peace. Paul captures this feeling when he writes, from a prison cell, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NRSV).
Faith is simple trust that our lives are in his hands, that he is always in our ship, and that he will never abandon us.
Lord, in the midst of the storms that inevitably come my way, help me to remember that you are always by my side. O Lord, calm the wind and the waves. Amen.