A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion (verses 37/8)
Google ‘storm on the lake’ and you find at least a dozen famous artists whose imagination has been caught by this story. (I wish I could reproduce one here but I haven’t worked out how to do that yet!)
Everyone in the boat is terrified but there is Jesus – asleep amid all the chaos. How could experienced fishermen get themselves into such a state? They must have been used to the turbulent winds which suddenly spring up on that lake. So what is going on here? Well, take a look at Psalm 107: 23 – 30 (and Psalms 18:16; 69:1-3; 77: 16 & 19; 89:9; 93:4). There you have it! This is a story about the Presence of God; a Presence deep within every one of us even when things are going seriously wrong. It must have been obvious to those around Jesus: that utter stillness of real, moment by moment Presence which is also dynamic energy.
Notice, I said a Presence deep within every one of us. I know we easily forget it when things go wrong, especially if we haven’t been practicing our gardening. Gardening?!! See my previous blog post on the parable of the sower.
It’s not that there are no storms once we have learned how to rest in that Presence. Martin Laird, in his book ‘Into The Silent Land’, has a moving account of a drug addict who has learnt how to cope with his craving through the practice of the stillness of contemplative prayer. He comments, “Through his own journey of prayer, struggle, vulnerability, and community, he has glimpsed, however briefly, that precious gateway into the silent land. His struggles have not gone away, but he struggles less with his struggle.”
Charles Wesley must have had this storm on the lake story in mind when he wrote his famous hymn,
Jesu lover of my soul Let me to thy bosom fly, While the nearer waters roll, While the tempest still is high;
Several years before Mark wrote his Gospel, Paul of Tarsus had written his letter to Christians in Rome. In chapter 8 he wrote:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God….
If you are not convinced try reading Martin Laird’s ‘Into The Silent Land’ or ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle.