I remember back in high school a friend was telling me that when a passenger falls asleep while you are driving, that means they trust you behind the wheel. They are at peace.
As a massage therapist, I’ve often had people fall asleep on the massage table during the treatment…I always say this is the best compliment because it means they are completely relaxed in my care. They are at peace as well.
One of my most precious memories of Summer is when she was 8 months old and we were in Florida. It was just her and I that day so I took her for her first experience in a pool. After 15 minutes of me bobbing up and down while holding her tight, she laid her head on my shoulder and slept for over an hour while I continued to move around in the water. The water didn’t freak her out and she was able to forget about it and let herself relax. She was completely at peace and trusted her momma.
I am not a scholar or a theologian but over the last month I’ve begun to – VERY SLOWLY – read through the book of Mark in the Bible. I don’t really know what I’m doing except that I simply write down things that I notice.
One of my most recent readings was Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus and the disciples are in a boat together. A furious storm breaks out and the disciples are freaking out but Jesus is sleeping. Sleeping. Completely at peace. Eventually, in anger and panic they wake Him up and with a few words, and Jesus calms the storm. Done. Back to sleep, perhaps? Who knows.
So at first what I noticed was simple…He was sleeping. I think it is crazy that He could sleep, FYI.
I’m terrified of water and last year when Ted and I did a little 2-hour sailing trip, I was practically pooping my pants from the swaying back and forth. “At peace” are not words you would have used to describe me. That swaying alone would keep me wide awake for hours, let alone a full-on storm.
But Jesus sleeping…this said to me that He clearly had zero worry, zero fear, 100% trust, and 100% confidence. At peace. Okay…let’s move on.
Next, I noticed that the disciples were accusatory.
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
This question…as if Jesus was being flippant or cold; as if He couldn’t give a rip about them. Maybe it also shows how they viewed Him – He should be looking out for them but sleeping showed that He was doing nothing of the sort. They say actions speak louder than words and His actions seemed to scream that He had an absolute disregard for those 12 guys and their safety.
Pause here. I think I question how much God cares about me at certain times too. Not sure He is always on my side.
If I imagine myself on that boat in that storm, I picture us frantically trying to bail the water out that was rushing in, instructions being barked out in fear and hurry, even anxiously trying to reposition people to balance the boat. It would have been pure chaos and I would be right there in the middle of it…probably sobbing. Not at all at peace.
Jesus was sleeping…it looked like He wasn’t doing anything, but it also should have spoken volumes to them saying,
“He’s not worried, so neither will we.
He’s calm, so we will be calm.
He’s at peace, so I will be at peace.
He’s not panicked or afraid,
so neither will we do those things.”
I remember a few years ago when a few people, who are very close to me, were under stress. They own a business where the whole family works there so they all depend on it. For whatever reason, they had fallen on hard times. I could see the stress – particularly in the one I’m closest to – but in everyone. There was true concern over whether the company would survive or not.
After some time of calmly praying perfect prayers, I broke down one day. I would say it was a mixture of anger and fear where I begged and pleaded for God to do something…don’t let the business go down the tubes. I was not at peace at all but rather genuinely bawling. That is the first prayer I think of if someone asks me to remember a time where I prayed desperately. I thought of that moment today when I read these verses in Mark.
Maybe in life, when we want to beg God and panic-pray, maybe God is ‘sleeping’ but in a good way. He is sleeping because He’s got this. His sleeping is an act of faith in Himself. In that boat that day, Jesus knew He had the situation under control. That’s why He could be at peace.
The winds could whip around all they wanted to
and the rain could drive down and fill up their boat to capacity and
Jesus would still be calm and at peace because He knew
that boat wasn’t going down
without Him saying it could go down.
When you keep reading you see that He heard their cry…and their accusations that He didn’t care. He heard it and calmed the storm. Actually, He didn’t just calm it, He rebuked it. Only someone in charge gets to rebuke. And nature listened. In fact, it didn’t just diminish – it was ‘COMPLETELY CALM’. (capitalization mine)
I think about the disciples and how they were afraid and had no faith after all that He had done so far in their journey. Clearly the disciples liked the things He said up until that point, otherwise they wouldn’t be following Him. His words were convincing and appealing so far but it didn’t result in faith yet; it didn’t change the heart and head yet.
At the end of the story we can see that they were scared of Him and shocked at who He was. They had heard all of the pretty words up until now but in this moment they must have thought something similar to, “Holy crap. This guy has SKILLS. What the heck? Who is He?”
I’ve had different ‘boat moments’ in my life – sometimes I’m in the boat, and sometimes I am watching from the shore, like with my friend’s business.
In those boat moments, I want to question Jesus too, with the same words the disciples used – “DON’T YOU CARE???” How can you be at peace while I’m over here capsizing???
Sometimes the boat feels like the size of a cruise ship with a ton of cargo…like when my marriage was ending, and my house had a fire and a loved one was dealing with criminal issues all at the same time.
Sometimes the boat is just a dingy…like parenting teenagers and having no idea what you are doing; or blending two families together to try to function as one, or learning to embrace your second marriage instead of living in fear that it will be another explosion in my face.
Funny how a dingy can be scarier than a cruise ship…so small, vulnerable and lonely.
I’ve heard about Jesus all of my life and, like the disciples, I like what I’ve seen, and His words are convincing and appealing. However, until these ‘boat moments’ I’m not sure liking Jesus had resulted in much faith yet…not sure it changed my heart and head much.
But those boat moments?
Those were game changers.
I saw miracles happen – yes, I will use that word. I saw good things come from broken things. I saw new life in the cemetery that was my old life. I’m sure at some point in my head I have thought, ‘Holy crap. This guy has skills. What the heck? Who is he?’
And there will be more boat moments to come. I hope I remember that He is always calm. Always at peace. No matter what, He will not be freaking out, trying to bail water out of the boat.