Storm-tossed

“Or who shut in the sea with doors

when it burst out from the womb,

when I made clouds its garment

and thick darkness its swaddling band,

and prescribed limits for it

and set bars and doors,

and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,

and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

Job 38:8-11

A couple of years ago I painted a picture from the Jesus Story Book Bible.

It’s the one of Jesus asleep in the boat while it is being tossed about in the storm. As I painted, my mind wandered to the squalls I was currently in while my worries rose and heaved like the waves I attempted to portray with a paltry tool.

I smiled at the funny, but scared faces of the men clinging to the worn boards of the tossed boat. The momentary smile quickly dissipated as I thought again of the men—frightened men, grown men, men who knew the sea. 

They were acquainted with wind and wave and bad days afloat. They knew the power of these natural forces.

Recognizing the capability of these forces, they were afraid.

It was the ugly, consuming and overwhelming fear that comes from much focus and study on the storm at hand.

I spent multiple days working on the wild water, the cresting waves. For the next section, I worked on a boat that looked like it may or may not hold together. 

Then I came to these fearful faces (including my own) clinging to life inside the boat.

I cling to life frequently the way these strong and salty fellows must have done that day.

Real life and real problems beat us about and threaten like dark clouds overhead. There are serious storms, legitimately large problems lurking—moments of our lives when the fact that we were never in control finally becomes an unavoidable truth. 

Unbelieving loved ones, unforeseen expenses with unknown means to meet them, an illness turned life-threatening, sadness that we cannot seem to shake, guilt from rotten choices, lost jobs. 

They are the thoughts that seem to keep us awake at night.

For me, when it is time to sleep, even the most trivial of worries seems to blow up larger than life. The mind runs awry and the mental waves beat like those on that tattered ship at sea.

It is as if a groove develops and breaking free, setting foot on dry land never again seems possible.

JP covered that stormy scene last week when talking of Mark 4 and Mark 6. Two instances of the worried fisherman battling the immediate and seemingly insurmountable storm.

He reminded us that there are times in our lives when we behave as if we are unbelievers, operating out of unbelief in bleak circumstances. We act like this when we cannot see past the moment.

We focus on the storm, the danger. We dwell on the surroundings. 

I think again of the work on that painting.

I spent so much time on the storm on that canvas—the details of the wind and waves. 

Working to get the angles right on the boat, the boards, the lightning, the effects of the wind.

That was before the obvious shone from the unpainted portion of the canvas. 

There He is.

I AM is in the boat.

The penciled in portion, not yet painted, almost glowed with His simply drawn face—eyes shut in peaceful slumber, a smile even at his stilled lips.

The lips that would open upon His waking and still the wind and waves instead. 

He was not only in the middle of the storm, He was able to sleep peacefully within it.

His mind is not perturbed, turning flips with the worries we have. He isn’t shaken and surprised by our suddenly overwhelming circumstances.

I’m in the boat, rolled and tossed and weary, but He is in the boat with me!

Initially I smiled, even laughed because the grown, weathered fishermen looked scared and nearly foolish much like me. But how could they be?

Jesus was on board, asleep even. 

My smile is back as my slow-to-understand mind fully wraps around that clear thought. He is also on my boat. 

He’s in it.

He isn’t asleep.

He is not afraid and He is in control. 

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