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  • Writer's pictureFather Nicholas Lang

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we lose control of things in a storm? Before a storm arrives and after it has long passed and the lights are back on, have a sense of security. All it takes is one good, powerful, nor’easter or hurricane or tornado to show us how transient our usual safe haven can be.

 

Up until this point in their the disciples have had fairly smooth sailing. Little demand had been placed on them and they, no doubt, felt pretty much in control of their lives and of their boat. All of this was about to change. When Jesus and the disciples set out on the Sea of Galilee, which really a fresh-water lake thirteen miles long and eight miles wide, the weather was probably quire fair. That evening, crowds had gathered to hear him teach and receive healing.

 

Life seemed good by days end, and all was well. I’m sure they wanted to get away and have some down time and rest, so they escape to their boat and the water. Exhausted from the work of his ministry, Jesus falls asleep. All at once, holy hell breaks loose, and the force of waves slams against them.

 

I think the storm it wreaked for the disciples is really a metaphor for the other forces of chaos and fear in the world and in our lives. You and I have been and will continue to be overwhelmed by the storms and disruptions in life that confront us. We hear this story in Mark’s Gospel today and we may think it is unbelievable, implausible. But is it—really? With God in the picture—or in the boat? Haven’t we seen the result of God’s redemptive action in the face of our fear?

 

I think Mark includes this great story to tell us an important truth: God is here. God is involved in our lives but—we need to give up our sense of control and move from that precarious, unreliable place to a place of trust—for the only real way to be in control of our life is to trust the only One who can reorder it.

 

Some things in life can be changed by sheer will. We can change the tire. We can switch a reservation. We can change jobs, or schedules or vacation days. But sometimes when we struggle to alter the details of our life, nothing happens. Things might even get worse and it forces us, by God’s grace, to do what the disciples did, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And that is a prayer, albeit one of desperation.

 

Author Bruce Larson offers this advice: “We have found ourselves in hopeless situations and the more we do, the worse it gets…We can make matters worse by our frantic efforts to save ourselves when God is trying to tell us: ‘Stand still. Be still and know that I am God.”


Knowing when to keep striving—and when to let go and let God. 

 

Then the wind ceased and there was a dead calm.

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