Peace! Be Still!

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

35When evening had come, [Jesus said to the disciples,] “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?”

ELCA Book of Faith Devotional Questions:

What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text? What do I have questions about?  One of my mentors, Pastor Carol Tomer, would always say the following on the occasion of a baptism:  “God does not promise us a life without rain or storms.  God promises that God will go with us through them.”  This is challenging, isn’t it? There are times in life when we also call out to God, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  It is hard to confront the problem of evil in this world and not wonder where God might be in the midst of it all.  Is God there at all, especially when our boat is swamped, and the wind is fierce, and the waves threaten to overwelm?  Where is God when I don’t feel God’s presence?

What delights me in this text? What is my favorite part, and why?  My favorite part of this text is when Jesus wakes up and says “Peace!  Be still!”  When I am in frantic mode, unable to settle or trust or even call out to God, I try to keep these words of Jesus close to my heart.  For me, it might even be “Stop!  Be still!  Peace!”  It is when I take the time on my yoga mat to pray, or pull out a coloring prayer page I have been working on, light a candle, turn on my favorite hymn playlist, and make the time to just be.  That is where my peace is recovered, I recall that I am a beloved child of God, and I remember that God through the Holy Spirit is as close to me as my next breath.  Ahh…the blessed rest of peace.

What stories or memories does this text stir up in me? How does this story connect to the story of my life?  This story has always been a memorable one since I led a group of confirmation students on a sailboat on the south shore of Lake Superior.  As we were sailing one day, a storm began brewing.  The captain of the sailboat, who had many years of experience sailing just these waters, said to me, “We have two choices.  Try to get to land and off the boat before the storm comes in, or ride it out on the water.”  I asked him which option was safer.  He told me that, if the students and I were willing to do exactly what he said to sail the boat, it was actually safer to ride it out.  Making for shore meant that there was a possibility that we might wreck, and the boat was made for storms such as these.  We decided to ride it out.  What an exciting, exhilarating, terrifying ride!  We made it safely through the storm, and the sunset over a lake as smooth as glass that evening was one of the most beautiful I had seen.  Then came the crazy part.  When I pulled out our pre-prepared devotion that night, it was this very story!  You can imagine that the students, captain, and I had quite the deep discussion for Bible study that night.

What is God up to in this text? What is God calling me to do or to be because of this message?  I have been listening to a recording of “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by the Norton Hall Band at Southern Seminary lately.  When I read this story from Mark, it reminds me of a couple of lines from the hymn:  “In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.”  In the storms of life, where is my anchor fixed?  Who walks with me through the dark times?  How do I seek God’s face, even the valley of the shadow of death?  Jesus promises to go with us, to be present, to give us peace and strength and hope.  “All other ground is sinking sand.”  I am looking forward to Dwelling in this Word with you over the course of the month.

In Christ,

Pastor Breen Marie Sipes