Can We Rest in the Midst of Storms?

Jesus Calms the storm – Rembrandt

This morning I read the story of Jesus in the storm from Mark 4:35-41

35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!”Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

Something struck me that I had never thought much about before – Jesus was actually deeply asleep in the midst of this storm. Now I lived on a ship for 12 years and I know that it is hard to sleep in the midst of a storm when the ship is rocking and rolling, the waves are crashing and the cargo groans against its bonds threatening to break loose at any moment. Even now when I live in a stationary home, I know how anxiety can keep awake, often creating its own storms of fretting, fear and uncertainty.

Sleeping in the midst of storms is a sign of extreme stupidity or of supreme confidence. Jesus’ response when the disciples woke him shows that his sleep was one of confidence. He trusted completely that the God who formed the waters and allowed the storms, the God who called him beloved Son, was still in control and would keep them all safe no matter how violently the waters raged. In the midst of the storm he was able to find rest and refreshment.

Sometimes I think that we forget that Jesus is in the boat with us. Sometimes I not sure that we really want to wake him. The storm itself is frightening, Jesus calming of the storm is terrifying.

We are in the midst of stormy times as the government shutdown here in the U.S. and its accompanying storms continues to rock all our boats. My neighbours are out of work for the duration and the poor are tightening their belts even more as programmes like SNAP, WIC and low income housing assistance are suspended.

How much confidence do we have that Jesus is in the boat with us? And what would it look like for him to calm this storm? It is so easy for us to pray for the solution we want to see happen – extreme conservatives for the disintegration of the government, democrats for the passing of a budget that still includes health care reform. But it is hard for us to have the faith to believe that whatever God allows to happen in this storm, Jesus is still with us. It is he, not us who is in control.

So my prayer today is that God will calm the storm and that we will be able to find rest and confidence in whatever that calming looks like.


Across the Blogosphere

This morning I was wandering the blogosphere after reading my morning email reflecting on faith and everyday life.  To be honest I was feeling a little frustrated.  my inbox was full of memorial day ads telling me I needed to buy more in order to save money.   And even some of my favourite sites seem to have sprouted new and tasteless ads since I last visited them.  I realize that like us, many are struggling with the challenge of keeping their ministries afloat during tough financial times, but do we really need to buy into the ways of mammon in order to survive?

Fortunately there were a few posts I came across this morning that turned my world around… most of them incorporating beautiful visual images or about gardening, both of which always brings refreshment to my soul

Dave Perry at visual theology has some beautiful photo reflections that I would highly recommend.  Like this one (though it is much better with Dave’s photos)

At the foot of the market cross in the Yorkshire dales village of Askrigg a genuine bull ring is set into the cobbles. Dating from the eighteenth century or earlier it is a chilling reminder of public brutality, for here bull’s were tethered and baited by bulldogs to ‘entertain’ the crowd. Something which is unthinkable now was normative then. The bull ring reminds us of how cruel and callous we once were. Yet the politics and judicial system of the time scarcely treated the poor any better than the beasts. Read the entire post

And to help me relax this article from Year of Plenty in Spokane

It has always intuitively made sense to me that spending time out in the garden is good for my health and general well being, especially for reducing stress. Well, it turns out that there may be a scientific basis for such a claim. A recent study on the effects of exposure to a common soil bacteria (mycobacterium vaccae) shows a strong correlation between the bacteria and improved learning and lowered anxiety. read the entire article

Its now time for morning prayers so hopefully I will be able to share more reflections later