I’ve always been someone who can sleep anywhere. Having five children has helped this because grabbing a nap between feeding babies was essential when they were little. I have snoozed on trains, cars, chairs, floors, grass, and boats. There is something very peaceful about sleeping in nature, smelling the earthy tinge of the grass, the perfume of the plants in the air, hearing the various bird song and feeling the warmth of the sun on the skin.
I can imagine how peaceful Jesus must have felt when he nodded off in the boat with His disciples. The Sea of Galilee is notorious for its beauty but also for the quick change in weather.
In Gospel today we hear and imagine the idyllic boat journey of Jesus and the disciples. Imagine being on that boat with Jesus. Conversation would be flowing between the disciples, they would have been at ease because a few of them were expert sailers, I like to imagine Jesus nodding off hearing the voices of His disciples mixed with the sound of the sea beneath the hull and the moving of the air as they sailed along.
For the expert fishermen in the boat, discerning the weather was certainly part of their skill set, they would have been able to read the water conditions, see the weather fronts appearing, and know when it would or would not be safe to sail.
However in this scenario none of the fishermen saw this storm coming, it seems that they noticed that Jesus had fallen asleep and then the weather suddenly changed and it surprised them. The gales swept down onto the lake and the disciples were soon overwhelmed and panic stricken.
My active imagination wants to suggest that the storm was not a naturally occurring instance, that there was some link between Jesus falling asleep and suddenly the disciples were vulnerable.
The vulnerability of the disciples in the storm because of not being alert, makes me think of Jesus praying continuously in the garden of Gethsemane before His passion and Jesus finding the disciples asleep overwhelmed with grief.
Jesus says to them “why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into a time of trial” Could it be that Jesus realised from this experience with the storm that the disciples would be vulnerable to spiritual attacks like He himself experienced in the wilderness where the Devil tried to tempt Him?
Whatever the source of this storm might be, the disciples were not prepared, they began to panic were probably quite amazed that Jesus was still asleep, and woke Him up.
Jesus, fearless and peaceful calmed the storm, and said to the disciples, “where is your faith?”
When Jesus asks them “where is your faith” I feel that Jesus is prompting them to remember to pray in times of trouble and have confidence in those prayers that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will hear their call for help.
As the disciples are saved from their seemingly impossible situation they glimpse the divine nature of Jesus that has broken through and turned the chaos into order and the disciples are amazed and terrified.
They say “who then is this that he commands even the wind and the water, and they obey him?”
There is a glimpse of the beginning of creation in this revelation of Jesus’s power over the water and the wind. In Genesis we hear in the beginning, the spirit or wind of God hovered or swept over the waters and God spoke and said let their be light.
The disciples knew in their hearts that Jesus was indeed special, but in their minds, after witnessing this control over the wind and the waters they then realised that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, the word of God, and the light of the world.
It’s the reoccurring conversion of the mind that opens up our hearts further and deeper to know and realise and receive the love from our God. Jesus who was fully human and fully God could sleep on that boat in perfect peace because He Himself knew that His prayers would be heard and that He was safe.
This encounter of Jesus calming the storm shows us how important being prepared for storms that can appear out of nowhere is. We become prepared for these storms with our faith, through prayer, through confidence and trust in God’s deliverance and provision, and an awareness and acknowledgement of the battles we can face with evil.
As we encounter storms in our own lives, we cry out for help knowing that we might perish, that it might be this storm that will be the end of us.
We see the water seeping in, we feel the roughness of the waves, we are engulfed by the clouds and the winds that narrow our view, forcing us to look downwards and inwards to the situation. The enormity of the situation sucks us in, we are pounded from every angle, there is no way out, we cannot see a future, we are perishing, we are finished.
Who then is this, who changes all this in an instant? Who rebukes the wind, stills the waves, clears the air, and all that is left is calm.
Who then is this, who widens our perspective and frees us to now look up and outwards, there is now hope, possibility, a new chance to move forward again.
Who then is this who stands strong in the changes that we feel today as I move forward from this beautiful place.
It is our beautiful God who takes the helm of the boat, points us forward out of the storm and sets us off again on fresh waters.
My prayer for you all for the future is to keep looking up and outwards, to be prepared with faith, to stay awake through prayer, through diligence with the scriptures, through friendship and authentic Christian witness and love.
Remember that we are a storied people, it’s our stories that meet Jesus’s stories around his transformative table that makes a church, and it’s that transformative power that will build Jesus’ church, because no one who meets Jesus face to face would want to be anywhere else but in His house and His presence.
I thank you all for letting me love you, because without love we can never know and rest in the true heart of God.