Sleeping During the Storm

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from… and from the deadly pestilence. You will not fear the terror of night…nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”  Psalm 91:1-6 (selected)

I am beginning with this familiar Psalm, but I want to place it in the context of a New Testament event. Mark 4:36-41 is the account of the disciples encountering storm on the sea, while Jesus is sleeping in the stern of the boat.

Today during the noon prayer time Pastor Bob Seale did a great job in addressing the dialogue that took place between the disciples and Jesus. (You might want to check it out on the Timberline Church Facebook page.)

But as Debbie and I have processed this event, I found myself zooming out. I usually look at this story from the disciples’ viewpoint. But I began to ponder the viewpoint of Jesus. Jesus was sleeping in a storm! It had to have been loud, chaotic, and disruptive. This was far from a peaceful setting the would seem fitting for sleep. Jesus was human. He had hunger, thirst, fatigue. He was tempted just like we are. He was vulnerable to physical harm. Yet he was sleeping! Why?!

I began to consider how we tend to deal with situations that arise. We tend to do so based on our experience and context. If we are in familiar territory, we have a sense of confidence in what needs to be done. “I have been here before, I know what to do.” Many of the disciples were fishermen. They were men of the sea and had faced storms in the past. Their response was to take control and to do what they had done…what they knew to do. But this storm was different, it was unprecedented. (Have you heard that word lately?) Soon their confidence turned into fear and panic.

Jesus responded to the storm out of his context. Was it the context of knowing that he was with men of great experience on the sea? The experience of others can certainly be of great comfort when we are in a situation that is new to us but not to those with us in that situation.

But Jesus’ context was not His confidence in the disciples, but His relationship with His Father. He was committed to the Father’s will. He kept His relationship intimate and consistent. He was confident of His future and as a result, was confident of the Father’s care. His faith was fixed on the Father’s care.

When the disciples’ exhausted their ability fear set in. And fear is the enemy of faith. [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” In the context of Psalm 91, we can observe when the Lord is our refuge, we won’t’ be overcome by fear.

I thought of words of the Gaither song, “Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more, Till the clouds roll forever from the sky, Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand Keep me safe till the storm passes by.”

Another old song contains the words, So let the storms rage high, the dark clouds rise, they don’t worry me
for I’m sheltered safe within the arms of God. He walks with me and naught of earth shall harm me. For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

We need to remember to keep our faith in God in the center of our context. When we do that we can find peace and rest in the midst of the storm.