Peace! Be Still!

peace be still

Mark 4:35-41 (New Revised Standard Version)

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Book of Faith Devotional Questions:

  1. What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?
  1. What delights me in this text?
  1. What stories or memories does this text stir up in me?
  1. What is God up to in this text?

A few weeks ago our area in south Central Nebraska and Northern Kansas was the site of a severe storm that kicked up several tornadoes.  Thankfully, although there was damage to property, machines, and animals, and more damage due to subsequent flooding, every person who went through the storm came through safely.  As you can probably imagine, there has been a lot of swapping of storm stories in the past couple of weeks.  One story, shared with me just this past weekend, remains with me as I consider the above story about Jesus from the Bible.

The storyteller was telling me about the first tornado that she remembered going through.  She was at K-Mart in Hastings, NE during the tornado which did serious damage to Grand Island, a town just a bit farther north.  They were gathered by employees in the middle of the store.  Children were in the center and underneath, parents over them, and crib mattresses over the whole bunch of them.  And she remembers her mother praying, out loud, for the storm to pass over them.  The storm did pass, and they returned safely home, but it was an experience she has never forgotten.

Can you imagine being in the disciples’ shoes in the story from Mark?  In an open fishing boat, on a lake, during a windstorm, taking on water and sinking lower and lower into the waves?  With Jesus, perfectly fine, asleep on a cushion?  I think that I would ask the same question of Jesus, the same question that comes to our lips in the midst of any crisis where we don’t feel God’s presence, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” or, more simply, “I’m dying here, Jesus!  Where are you?”

Jesus’ response to this question is one that I carry with me into difficult situations:  “Peace!  Be still!”  He directs it here at the wind and the waves, but I believe that he also directs it at the disciples, and at us.  Jesus, who sees us frantic, gives us peace.  Jesus, who watches us scurrying around like chickens with our heads cut off, orders us to stop, look and listen, to “Be still!”  I am amazed in my own life at how effective these two commands can really be.  Even when I am scared, I know that Jesus is the source of all peace.  Even when there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things that I have committed myself to, Jesus reminds me of the value of stillness, of listening, of trust in him.

My prayer for you in this month is that you, too, will carry Jesus words with you wherever it is that God is leading.  I pray that you will know his peace, and take the command to be still seriously.  It will give rest to your aching soul.

In Christ, Pastor Breen

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