Do you know the creepy sensation when you feel someone or something is behind you? I was walking down a sidewalk with destination in site and the odd feeling came over me like something was behind me. Keep on walking and pick up the pace or do I turn around and face whatever or whomever it might be? My heart raced as I turned around to see the unexpected. Out of now where, dark swirling clouds had filled the sky and were headed in my direction. Wind gust popped on to the scene sending my hair and clothes flying every which way. Notebook to chest to keep from dropping it, I leaned into what felt like hurricane force winds. One moment all was well and the next was complete pandemonium.
Sudden storms are indicative of life both figuratively speaking as well as the weather kind. Both have an element of anxiousness accompanying them. Predicted storms we keep a close eye on, preparing for every possible outcome. Even with the advantage of foreknowledge keeping anxiousness at bay is difficult. But what about those unpredictable out of nowhere storms? The “I didn’t see that one coming.” Before we have time to catch our breath, another punch is served knocking us off our feet.
A sudden storm came out of nowhere and wreaked havoc on the motley crew of Jesus disciples. It was supposed to be a reprieve from the crowds a simple crossing the lake to the other side. Jesus had gone down below to take a nap leaving a few veteran seaman, a tax collector and others who may or may not have had solid sea legs in charge. Not long after, Matthew, Mark and Luke all described a fierce storm had come upon them. One so fierce they thought they were going to capsize and drown, all while Jesus napped.
The Bible doesn’t say whose bright idea it was to wake Jesus up, but more than one ran down below. Imaginably it was the ones who didn’t know anything about boats. I would have raised my hand for the task feeling helpless to do any good otherwise.
“Did you not hear the call for all hands on deck?” “How can you sleep through a storm like this?” “Storm happening here!” What question would you have asked? Fearing for their life, out of all the questions they could have asked, the disciples woke Jesus up with, “Don’t you care that we are going to drown?”
“When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the wave, “silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39, NLT)
We each can remember living through a storm, those moments were real when we feared for our lives, thought we would not survive, and felt as if the storm would take us out.
We can batten down the hatches, call for all hands on deck and whether we know what to do or not, we busy ourselves with doing something in hopes of lessening the effects of the storm.
We can learn a few things from the disciples experience with a fierce storm. These three preparedness steps will help us be more ready for the storm that is around the corner or for survival of the one being lived out now.
Invite Jesus into the storm. We may feel like God does not care or is taking a nap when here on earth all hell is breaking loose. In reality, Jesus knew the storm would come and His choice to sleep was not a mistake or a sign of disconnect. It was an opportunity for His disciples to bring Him into their brutal storm, their fear and anxiety. Inviting Jesus into our storms no matter the size, we will fare better when we include Him and include Him sooner than later.
Surrender to Jesus as the Storm Breaker. We may feel like we are in control and deceive ourselves into thinking we are okay or we just need a vacation or it will be better tomorrow. The first movement the disciples took was when they surrendered to the fact they were out of control. We are not the ones who stop the raging storm. Jesus is our Storm Breaker. Surrendering to Him on a continual basis is the single most affective action step we can take during a storm or as a defensive measure for any impending storm.
Receive the Great Calm Jesus brings. We may feel we will never experience calm in our lives whether there is a storm raging or not. Make no mistake, Jesus brings a peace that passes all understanding and this very peace often comes in the middle of waves crashing. Once we invite Him to be a part and surrender to Him a great calm will happen to us. If this sounds too good to be true, well there is a catch. We need to be open to receive the calm in whatever form it is given. More than likely it will come in ways we were not expecting.
Wind whipping, shingles flying off the roof and I stood frozen with fear, helpless to carry myself to safety, when I woke up in a frenzy. I sat straight up in bed and reached over to touch Tony to bring me back to reality. It was the middle of the night and even though the storm was only a dream my heart raced as if it were real.
The next morning I sat with Jesus and recalled the nightmare, I invited Him to show me what I could not see. The timely message of Jesus calming the storm was where He took me. “A great calm” connected to my heart, “Yes, please!” How desperately I search for any calm in my crazy life, but to have a great calm come over me? It sounds better than a day at any spa.
Anxiety is real and experienced by most in a variety of ways. Women, executives, pastors and high achievers are all the most vulnerable to living a lifestyle that will not make room for rest. Thoughts racing, shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, trouble sleeping and stormy dreams are a short list of possible signs of anxiety. The signs of a life in need of a great calm.
When you invite Jesus into the storm, things begin to shift. He is the One who silences the voices, the rapid fire of thoughts and the rising waves of our anxiety. On the lake with the disciples it was immediate. With me the next morning after a nightmare revealed hidden anxiety, it was the beginning of the calm. For some it may be a path to a wise counselor or come in any number of forms over time.
A temporary small calm may be experienced, but the great calm we seek will not come until we invite Jesus to bring the storm under His control and surrender to His method.
There is one more thing I love about this story. It wasn’t a one person storm. All the disciples feared for their lives that day. We are not alone in having storms or the toll it takes. We are also not meant to go through storms alone.
What if we surrendered to the Storm Breaker and His methods over our own? What if we encouraged one another in our storms with words and actions of compassion and love over accusations and quick fixes?
“Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39b, NLT)
Dig Deeper: Mark 4: 35-41; Luke 8: 22-25; Philippians 4: 6-9 Meditation: Jesus brings the calm
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