Last week in our Bible study we read together Mark 4:35-5:20 when Jesus miraculously calms the rough sea and casts out a legion of demons from a man who has spent years banished from his community and living in a cemetery. I’ve read these stories hundreds of times, but last week as I challenged our Bible study to not just read these words from an intellectual perspective, trying to learn and understand the facts, but from a deeper spiritual and devotional perspective, I asked all of us to consider the question, what is God’s word for me in this passage today?
So I began my time in the Word the same way as everyone else at the Bible study, by praying, “God, what do you have for me today in your word, what are you speaking to me today?” As I was reading through the passage I found myself drawn to the words Jesus speaks to his frightened disciples on the boat just after the disciples, in sheer terror from the rough water and fearing for their lives, have awoken Jesus from his nap. After Jesus woke he immediately stilled and silenced the waves with his spoken words and then turned to the disciples and said, “why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
These words cut right into my heart. Why are you so frightened? I spend so much of my life worrying about various things – some seemingly important, but most admittedly completely ridiculous. Despite the fact that I have encountered Christ’s power in my life numerous times, and despite the fact that I have experienced in personal and powerful ways Christ’s power to work for good in my life – even and especially when life feels difficult, tricky, or even impossible – I still find fear and worry to be my natural instinct and response. I still find myself worried and frightened at times when I am faced with the difficulties, challenges, sufferings, or obstacles in life. I look out of the boat at the raging sea and think to myself, surely this is the time the boat will capsize and I am going to drown. Jesus’ words to me remind me that I’ve been in this boat before. I’ve stared into raging seas and I’ve wondered if the boat will hold together before, and remarkably thus far, the boat has stayed afloat and the seas have calmed. Sure, I’ve born the bruises and marks of a wild, painful, and unpredictable ride, but there has been deliverance from the raging seas and storms of this life.
But as I was reading Jesus’ words they didn’t come to me as rebuke. I didn’t get the sense that Jesus was angry with me…I didn’t get the sense that Jesus had lost his patience with me or even that Jesus was tired of my lack of faith. I got the sense that Jesus was begging – pleading – with me to accept his gracious invitation. “Please,” Jesus was saying to me, “let go of your fear, let go of your worry, dare to trust me completely, dare to live into the faith you claim to have in me, dare to allow the full weight of your life to rest in my hands. I want to deliver you from this fear.”
I want what Jesus wants for me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever attain it fully while I’m on this earth. Honestly, I’ll probably always struggle with some of these issues of control and worry and fear, but I find Jesus’ love for me, his words to me, and his invitation into release to be life-giving and faith-strengthening.
So how about you? What waves are rocking your boat? What seas are raging in your life? What are you afraid of? Where do you need to hear Jesus’ invitation to release?