Stormy Seas
Rev. Phil Debenham


Mark 4:35-41 (NASB)

35 On that day,when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they *took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there *arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *woke Him and *said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

When I was in the Navy in the early ’70’s I was a crew member of the USS Washtenaw County, LST 1166. The Washtenaw was commissioned, I believe, in 1953. It was a flat bottom ship, the kind you see in WWII movies, beaching, opening it’s bow doors, dropping it’s ramp, and letting off tanks and Marines to fight the battles.

Being flat bottomed made it possible to beach the ship and still return to the deep water. However, it made for quite a bumpy ride in stormy seas. When we were out to sea and got word of a typhoon we’d turn tail and run! When we hit swells we’d go through one side and literally fall out of the back side. From the bridge we could see the ship bend from the pressure. Truly the ship was not made for rough water.

During my nearly two years on the ship there was only one time we failed to outrun a typhoon, and that one time was enough to last a life time! We turned into the storm to ride it out. I was pleased to be chosen by our Captain as one of the helmsmen during this storm as he only picked the best helmsmen for this duty. Pleased, but scared to death! A swell would pick us up and turn us to the port (left) or starboard (right) very suddenly and the helmsman would have to quickly correct to direct the bow of the ship into the next swell. If the swell were to hit us broadside it could capsize the vessel.

Obviously we made it through (since I am here to write about it), but not without quite a bit of fear and trepidation. It was an experience I’m glad I went through, but one I hope to never encounter again!

The Apostles in the boat with Jesus were in even more fear than I was. Our ship was bigger and stronger than their boat. I expected to make it safely, they were not too sure. None the less, I think I have a certain understanding of their fear from my own experience.

I’d like us to notice three things from the scripture we’ve cited:

  1. The disciples took charge

  2. The storm hit and fear took over

  3. The Savior takes charge again

The Disciples Took Charge (vv.35-36)

35 Onthatday,wheneveningcame,He*saidtothem,“Letusgoovertotheother side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they *took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.

Here we see Jesus giving the disciples a command. He told them they were going to the other side of the sea. He gave them something to do, just like He does with believers today. When Jesus gives us a task we usually want to do it if we are really seeking to serve Him. We want to do a good job for the Lord. When He asks us to do something for Him that we are really good at we relish the opportunity! “Oh yeah! I got this one!” We know how to do this particular task so we dive in.

I spent 35 years working for UPS. Most of those years I was a package driver. I’d deliver packages for the greater part of the day, and pick up packages from customers in the latter part of the day. On many routes I did I would completely fill up my truck and have to call in for another truck to handle the overload. Consequently I got very good at utilizing every inch of space in the back of the truck. I could get more packages in the truck than you could imagine.

When my brother-in-law requested my assistance in his move from one house to another I complied. Because of my UPS expertise I quickly jumped in the back of the Uhaul and took over the packing of the truck. I was good at it, so I took over and did it!

That is what the disciples did. Many of them were fishermen and made their livings out on a boat. They were experts at their craft. So when Jesus told them he wanted to go to the other side, they took over! They would show Jesus how well they could handle the task.

Notice what it says in verse 36: they took Him along with them in the boat. “C’mon Jesus, we’ve got this one! Relax! We’ll get you there safely. We’ve got this under control!” They took Him!

Isn’t this the way we sometimes react when Jesus presents us with a task that we know we can accomplish? Our pride jumps up and takes over. We don’t need God’s help for this! We’re experts! Sometimes that works out. We accomplish the task, but it was to our own glory rather that Christ’s! When we take Christ along for the ride instead of looking to him for the victory in anything God allows a bit of a storm to brew in order to refocus our attention to Him and away from us.

The Storm Hit and Fear Took Over

That is what happened to the disciples. Jesus slept. He let the disciples try to do it themselves, knowing full well what was to occur. He said, “Very well,” and took a nap! Oh how marvelous the disciples must have felt when Jesus laid down! How much faith Jesus must have had in their abilities! How puffed up they must have become in the pride of their expertise!

But then...the storm! They had been through storms before and had survived, but this was no ordinary storm! It was like our LST trying to negotiate that typhoon. No amount of expertise could out perform the storm. When I was at the helm of our ship I was praying, “Oh Lord, help me keep this boat headed straight!” In calm waters I never thought of asking the Lord for help. I had it under control! But when the wind blew at gale force and the waters turned evil I had no problem turning to God for help!

Fear reminds us of just how frail we are, and how much we need a Savior. We turn to Jesus at those times just as a child turns to his parent when he is in fear.

Here in Boise we float the Boise River in the summer time. We jump on whatever we are using to float at Barber Park and float downriver for about two hours to Ann Morrison Park. There are a few light rapids along the way, but nothing too serious. A while ago my wife, Bettina, and I floated the river in inner tubes made for that purpose. A little over an hour into our journey I saw a young child on an island in the rapids screaming to his mother. “Mommie, Mommie!” He got separated in the rapids and was scared to death. His first response was to call out to his protector - his mom.

That’s what we do when fear overtakes us. We call out to our protector - Jesus. That is what the disciples did.

37 And there *arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *woke Him and *said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

“Wake up Jesus! Save us! Are you going to let us die?”

In our lives as Christians we will face storms. It is inevitable. Often times those storms are allowed in our lives to wake us up to reality and turn our eyes back to Jesus. They remind us that Christ should be living through us in everything we do, in every word we speak, and in every thought we think. Christ is to be Lord (Master) of our entire lives, not just the parts we don’t think we can handle ourselves. Sometimes, when we fail to allow Him to be Lord in a specific area (when we take over), God allows, or even appoints a storm to come into our lives to point us back to Jesus. In these storms our fear is heightened and our pride is broken! We cry out to Jesus asking Him to take control again! What happens when we do this?

The Savior Takes Charge Again

39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples had seen many miracles before this one. They had every reason to have great faith in Jesus. However, the disciples were just like you and I, full of doubt and fear. Do you still have no faith? Sure they had faith, and their faith, like ours, was growing, but they were also lacking in faith. When Jesus took control from the disciples in the midst of the storm He restored calm immediately with just the words of His mouth, “Hush, be still.” The same voice that created all that is! The still small voice that speaks to our spirits. What happened? A great calm occurred and the faith of the disciples was increased.

We will have storms as believers, and these storms should drive us back to Jesus. We can avoid many storms by always allowing Christ to live through us. Let Him be in control in everything. When you fail to do that, rejoice in the storm and marvel in His victory over it! Give thanks for your increased faith and asked forgiveness for taking over!

May God grant you calm waters and the peace that comes only from trusting Him! 

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