Hymn: Will your anchor hold
Jesus Calms the Storm
35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
During August we are following the Diocese of Coventry summer talks, you can find them on their webpage. The theme of this week’s story is embracing change. The reading they have chosen is of Jesus calming the storm. Life of late has felt pretty stormy hasn’t it, and of course storms are scary because we have no control over them. We spend so much of life thinking we are in control it can be hard when nature points out the opposite.
How do you tend to respond to stormy seasons? Do you batten up the hatches, or get out there and embrace them, is it a challenge or a trial or a bit of both? Understanding how we and others tend to respond in times of change and stress can help us be more compassionate with ourselves and others when things are tricky and the future in uncertain.
In times of crisis it can be difficult to maintain perspective and look to the bigger picture, which is of course the problem the disciples had. All they could do was look to the storm and think about how afraid they were, rather than look to God who holds all our stormy seasons in the palm of his hand. They forgot to look around and remember that God was right there in the boat, sleeping alongside them. There was nothing to be afraid of.
Sometimes this story seems very unfairly to be used to condemn people for being fearful, when fear is an appropriate response to their situation. I wonder if it’s better to use it as a reminder of the presence of God in the midst of all that we face. Of God’s control of all things, but more importantly to remember that there will be times when we too like the disciples are afraid, its then that we have a choice… do we look to the problem we face or do we look to God who is with us in all things?
This is a story I love because of its vivid imagery, it is easy to imagine yourself there. It’s well worth taking the time to read through it imaginatively, think about each character, do you identify with them? How would you respond if you were in the boat with Jesus? Reflect on which storms in your life need stilling now, how might you go about that, and spend some time in prayer asking for God’s help for all that you face.
Be Thou my vision