When I was a little girl, my dad announced one day that we were getting a boat. He had spotted one with a “for sale” sign in the yard of a neighbor and, after some discussion with mom, the decision was made. So began our summertime family adventures. Dad would pack us up and we’d head out for a day or weekend to the various lakes of Ohio where we would ski, swim and dine at waterfront restaurants. It was sheer magic for a little girl.
For the most part, navigation involved small lakes, but occasionally we ventured into the waters of Lake Erie. And that was just the place we encountered an unexpected storm. The day went from sunny skies to ominous clouds; from lapping waters to white caps in a relatively short period of time. I can still envision the scene; our little boat being tossed about with the crest and fall of the waves. As the spray came over us, I remember watching dad at the wheel. Whatever he may have been dealing with inside, all outward appearances displayed a calm determination to move us toward the shore.
That day comes to mind when I read the 8th Chapter of Matthew: “Then He got into the boat and his disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying ‘Lord, save us!’ We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!” (NIV)
Among the ranks of the disciples were fishermen. They were familiar with these waters and knew what they were up against. This storm was bad. How could Jesus be asleep at a time like this? In their panic, they didn’t see His peace; they saw their peril and their voices resounded with fear as they woke the Master. His response must have bewildered them. What did faith have to do with this storm? The waves were swallowing the boat and he asked why they were afraid? Surely it was obvious. And maybe that was the point. Finite eyes always see the obvious. Vision beyond that requires faith.
I don’t think Jesus was criticizing them ~ I think He was preparing them. His authority was about to be revealed. Their plea met with His power and at His command calm came over the winds, the waves and the hearts of these men. They were in the boat with the Savior and there was nothing to fear.
My Lake Erie experience stays with me for another reason. I remember clearly that I was not afraid. It wasn’t that I was brave or the waves weren’t scary. It was simply that I trusted my father. I knew that he would do everything in his power to get us back to shore safely. Clothed in a life-jacket and given reassuring words, I was secure in his care.
Isn’t that what Jesus is asking in our storms? Why are you so afraid? If our focus is on the winds, the waves and the limits of the boat, fear will grip us. But if our faith is in Jesus Christ, who has absolute authority in heaven and on earth, then we are clothed with life by the One who has promised to bring us safely to Heaven’s Shore.
In this life storms will rage, but His commands remain. No matter how much you may be tossed about, you are not alone in the boat. Jesus hears the plea of faith, even when it’s anxious, and speaks His words of calm into our hearts ~ “Peace. Be still.”