My ancestors hail from the rocky shores of Maine. They were captain mariners. Some drowned at sea; most sailed Atlantic Ocean for a few decades and made a good living. When I read the following, I think of those men:
“Others went out to sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the Lord, His wonderful deeds in the deep. For He spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits’ end. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds to men.”
I recently took a two-week reprieve from personal storms. I had a bird’s eye view of the South Pacific Ocean, thanks to family who arranged a condo for me.
From the 23rd floor, the restless sea mesmerized me. Surfers paddled out from early morning until the sun set. From my perch, I saw barges, fishing boats and yachts sailing under a boundless, ever-changing sky. Humpback whales breached.
Oceans fascinate me. I can sit for hours, walk for hours, stare for hours. Part of the reason I visited the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia is to recoup myself. Funny thing is, seaside is where I usually head when my soul is in need of repair.
From scripture, it appears that Jesus did too. This passage in Psalm 107 reminds me of the time when an exhausted Jesus headed to water after he heard about his beloved cousin John the Baptist’s beheading at the hands of a vindictive, power-hungry mother/pimp who wanted Herod to have her daughter. Matthew 14:13, “When Jesus heard what had happened [to John] he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”
After Jesus spoke to a crowd all day about the parable of the sower, a lamp on a stand, the parable of the growing seed, and the parable of the mustard seed (see Mark 4) He was dog-tired. When evening came He suggested to the disciples that they go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Other boats went too. It wasn’t long before a furious squall erupted. Waves broke over the boat, nearly swamping it. However, an unconcerned, exhausted Jesus slept soundly on a cushion.
Can you imagine Peter waking Jesus up? “Don’t you CARE if we drown?” In other words...”Hellllooooo! Why are you sleeping at a time like this?”
Perhaps Jesus was groggy (because He was human like us.)But He got up, rebuked the temper-tantrum winds and waves and said, “Quiet! Be still!” Of course, the disciples were terrified because the wind and waves obeyed Him.
So. Here I am, recovering from a nearly four-year, life-changing tempest that has wreaked havoc in me: a remarriage with teenage step-children and moving lock, stock and barrel to Australia from America. Sometimes it seemed that Jesus slept.
In that same passage in Mark, Jesus asked his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
My response to that question is similar to the man described in Mark 9:14-24 who came to Jesus for his son’s healing. He said, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus responded, “’IF you can?’ Everything is possible for him who believes.”
I join my voice to this father’s answer/plea; “I DO believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
I watched the soothing ocean because I sought the result of the mariner’s fearful cries in Psalm 107 when their courage melted away. They were at their wits’ end. They cried out to the Lord in their trouble. God brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper. The waves hushed.
They were glad when He guided them to their desired haven.