“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41)
The gospel of Mark places this story after a series of parables that Jesus told to explain different aspects of faith. He taught in parables both to make things simple and plain to those who understood, and to hid meanings from those who could not or would not understand. The gospel of Mark says that Jesus explained all things to his disciples. That is why the Jesus’ questions to them are so poignant and the word “still” has such sting. And after all of Jesus’ teaching, they still wonder who Jesus was and why he had such power over nature.
And what of us?
I have not spoken for quite a while about this lectionary year’s theme of renewal and recommitment. Perhaps it is time again to bring that consideration into our conversation. How can we renew our faith in someone that we do not know? The simple answer is, we can’t.
The more complicated answer is that we can, if we know just enough to realize it is good for us to have faith in God and Jesus Christ. We cannot know God and Jesus completely, but we can know enough to believe in and follow, worship and praise, give thanksgiving and adoration, ask for intercession and petition – all the interactive aspects of faith that can be done when God and Jesus are Spirit to us. And, from reading all the accounts of the disciples, I do not know if we could have understood any better if we had been there when Jesus walked the earth. Because it seems that it was only when the disciples were given the Spirit that they truly understood – and we have that!
When the storms and waves of life seem to be overwhelming us, are we afraid? Could we in that moment of turmoil recommitment and renew our faith in the Divine? Or will we scream and yell that we are drowning and the Divine does not seem to care? A caution, however, beloved reader. God may not calm the storms and waves of life, but God can calm our human spirit. We may think we are bereft because Jesus is not physically in our “boat” to calm the storm. But the disciples had that and they didn’t know what to make of it!
So, I must conclude that having Jesus physically at our side would prove to be enough of an advantage that we can see that by NOT having Jesus at our elbow excuses us for not renewing our faith and not recommitting our life to God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
May you, beloved reader, feel the calm that the Divine can provide. Selah!