Saturday, February 1, 2014

In the Midst of the Storm


Today's gospel reading contains a familiar scene from the life of Jesus and his disciples. With a little metaphorical imagination, we can easily see that this is also a good description of our relationship with Jesus.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind,
and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”
Mark 4:35-41
It's not hard to see the point of this splendid account. This is my life. This is my way of reacting to crisis situations (and virtually every "situation" in life is, more or less, a crisis, or at least a challenge of some kind).

It's one thing to talk about Jesus (or write about him). I rather like it when the seas are calm, Jesus is with me, but I've basically got the boat under control. Jesus is "asleep," which -- I must admit -- seems convenient when I am captain of my ship. He's not going to suddenly pop up with his inscrutable demands about leaving everything and following him, or about how hard it's gonna be for me to get into the kingdom because I have lots of stuff and I kinda like having stuff.

Calm seas. Jesus "asleep." I'm at the helm on the open sea. I'll have to talk with him later, but right now it's break time. It's a little vacation from Christianity.

What am I thinking? What I really want is a break from being a human being. I'd be glad to sail in circles, going nowhere, as long as the passengers admired me and said things like, "What a fine captain you are!"

I'm the one who is asleep. I'm dreaming.

Then comes the storm.

And I go running to Jesus and I say, "Why are you letting this happen to me? Can't you do something?"

Jesus brings peace, and he also gently reveals the real problem. I would rather sail in circles in the sun because, really, I'm terrified of what's beyond the horizon. I'm afraid of the storms.

But he is gentle with my broken soul. He knows that the storms are sometimes so long and dark and fearsome, and that I often don't know where he is -- indeed, I am afraid that he has left the ship, I am afraid that he doesn't care....

Do I not yet have trust in him?

Come, Lord Jesus. Calm the storms of my fears. The winds and the seas of my soul belong to you, and I trust in you even when they rage and howl. I will not be discouraged.

Give me the grace to trust in you always.

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