A coworker this week brought us back to Mark 4, where the disciples are on the boat in the storm with Jesus while He is taking a nap. I felt myself so easily fall into this story, identifying with the disciples shaking Jesus awake, fear in their eyes, asking Him to just do something. The dialogue in this story felt so relevant to where I am now; the disciples wake Jesus and say, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (ESV) I have said a lot of things like that to Jesus in the past year or so. My main attitude towards Him could maybe be summed up by “do you not care…” followed by many specific or general areas in which He is, by my standards, failing me.
But then Jesus responds to them (and to me), in classic Jesus fashion, by handling the storm and then by saying to them: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Notice that He does not even respond to their question, He won’t even entertain the idea that He doesn’t care about them and the storm they are experiencing. It is probably insulting to Him at this point to have His love and care for them be questioned so directly. He turns it back to them and asks them to consider who He is and where they have been together. Do you still not trust me?
In the middle of a discerning season, where we are trying to figure out where the heck this boat is going, I find myself wanting to shake Jesus awake and ask Him the same thing they did. Do you not care about my life? Are you ever going to give us answers? Are you freaking sleeping? And of course, He responds the same way. He may not always choose to calm the storm, but He does always offer the same guidance to us that He commanded the storm: “Peace! Be still!”
And He asks us the same question: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
When we have no idea what is coming, I find it helpful to look back. Like I’ve written before, I have never been a fan of “don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” When we are questioning or uncertain, it is crucial to lean on our history with Jesus. He has brought us through so much. He has provided in so many ways. He has worked on our behalf, and we can believe He is doing so now. This is very easy to write, and very difficult to trust.
It is really centering to bring ourselves back to this story, remembering that whatever specific storm feels like it will destroy us is under the authority of our friend and Savior, Jesus. No matter how many times we come to Him with our questioning and doubting, He will still love us the same and gently remind us of this truth. We can hand over the reigns (or sails, as it were), knowing He can handle things so, so much better than we ever could. Even when I am tempted to believe that I am a better captain of this ship than He is, I am gently reminded that I am not steering and He will get us where we need to go.
In my job, we get to be a part of placing student leaders in specific locations for their time as an RA. There are some areas on campus that a lot of students always request to be placed in. And yet, at the end of each year, we almost never hear from someone that they wish they’d been somewhere other than exactly where they were placed. The people they met, the unique way they were able to lead and serve, and the team they were a part of become so important and meaningful they would almost never change it retroactively. This thought gave me a moment to reflect on my attitude towards the Lord when I am so sure I know the right plan. We have no idea what is best for us, and the sooner we release that into His hands, the better off we will be. There is so much freedom and peace to be found when we surrender our uncertain futures over to Him. We can trust that He is very much awake, and working on our behalf.