Peace, be still…” Mark 4:39 (NKJV)Posted December 3rd, 2009
"Peace, be still…" Mark 4:39 (NKJV)
by Rich Carlson
I remember this story best as I recall my visit to Israel coupled with my role as grandpa story reader. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recount this faith-challenging episode on the lake. But I remember my own experience crossing the Sea of Galilee in a modern replica of what historians think boats in Jesus’ day might have looked like. Knowing almost nothing about sailing I was at the mercy of the "captain" as we traveled south to north and ended up on the shore close to Capernaum. He pointed out the surrounding historical highlights and explained meteorologically how storms could develop over the Mediterranean sea and intensify as they approach Galilee. It is still common to have almost instantaneous storms on the sea which confirmed again my belief in the validity of the gospel stories and my assurance that if one of those storms came on my trip across the sea that I was in good hands.
But I still like my big overstuffed rocking chair that holds me and as many grandchildren as might be at our house at any given time. It comes in handy for when My Bible Friends becomes part of the pre-bedtime "calming down" routine.
I am sometimes "falsely" accused of not being a very calming influence at bed time and the story of Jesus calming the storm is often used as primary evidence. But sitting in a big rocking chair makes such a great prop for a boat rocking on the sea! And lights turned off and on quickly make great lightning! And grandpa can create the sound of thunder deep in his throat that can challenge anyone’s reason to be impressed by the power of thunderstorms. And I can make wind by blowing all their little heads that are perfectly positioned right under my nose. What’s a grandpa to do?
"Why were you afraid," Jesus asked His helpers. "Why were you afraid when I was with you?" Jesus says to boys and girls today—"Don’t be afraid when the lightning flashes, and the thunder crashes, and the strong winds blow. I am with you always, in the dark and in the storm, I will never leave you. Don’t be afraid." (That’s how the story ends in My Bible Friends—from my memory!)
Grandchildren lessons for big people (like me) today:
Timing is everything—Jesus was so "unworried" about the storms around Him that He slept right through them.
Trust is essential—If I were a disciple in that boat I think my reactions would be similar to theirs. It’s hard to trust in crises.
Confidence is crucial—but that trust comes best as I build my confidence in Him while there is no storm.
Contentment is forthcoming—there is an inner satisfaction that I experience, sometimes with amazement, as I look back at evidence of His leading. I can look forward with confidence—if…
I have learned to know and believe that Jesus is with me in the calm and in the storm. And this learning comes best before the storm. Storms don’t usually teach me many new things but they sure help me see what I have or have not learned up to that point!
The disciples were amazed and "terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’" (Mark 4:41, NIV). Just three words—"Peace, be still," and the terror of the night turned into tranquility. That’s the same place I’m supposed to have my grandchildren when the story ends, which is the same place God wants me to be as I face the challenges and "storms" of life. "I will never leave you. Don’t be afraid." It worked for the disciples, it works for my grandchildren, it works for me when I let it, and I believe it will work for you, too.
Rich Carlson is campus chaplain at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. “God Is Faithful” is adapted from the email devotionals he writes regularly for the Union College family. Rich enjoys filling his life with God, his family, and especially his five grandchildren.