A storm at sea

Published 6:27 pm Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My wife Doris and I sailed aboard a cruise ship to Bermuda several years ago. It was a delightful voyage.
Bermuda itself was beautiful. The warm sun, the pink sandy beach and the quiet, shallow water of the cove combined for such a wonderful experience. The people were hospitable. We saw very little litter as we traveled about the island. However there was a motor scooter that some tourist had driven off the pier and which came to rest on the ocean floor several feet beneath the surface of the water.
While the trip to Bermuda was smooth sailing as ocean voyages go, the return voyage was disagreeable. The ship sailed into the tailwind of a nor’easter. The sea was tempestuous. The captain came onto the intercom warning all passengers not to venture onto the outer decks. While that should have gone without saying, one suspects that previous experiences had proven otherwise. The doors to the dining room opened and closed with the motion of the ship. The wait staff managing the food trays under such circumstances was a sight to behold. At bedtime the ship rolled one way, creaked, nearly dumping you out of bed and onto the floor and then rolled back the other way with the same effect. Did either of us get seasick? No, but we’d both felt better. I was so glad when the ship finally came into port.
As I read Mark’s account of the disciples experience on the lake (Mark 4:35-41, Good News Bible) I find myself sympathetic. While crowded into a little fishing boat and crossing the lake, they get caught in a sudden violent storm. The boat is taking on water. It is evening. They are frightened out of their wits. Jesus, in sharp contrast to the disciples,  is asleep in the stern, undisturbed by the commotion and the chaos around Him. To say that they are perturbed when they awaken Jesus is an understatement.
“Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?”(4:38, GNB).
“Jesus stood up and commanded the wind, ‘Be quiet!’ and he said to the waves, ‘Be still!’ The wind died down, and there was a great calm” (4:39,GNB). Then turning to the disciples He chides them. ‘Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?’ (4:40, GNB). The chiding is softer in Matthew’s account. ‘Why are you so frightened? What little faith you have!’ (8:28, GNB) Matthew was there and heard Him when He spoke this to them, Mark was not and that may account for the difference.
I don’t know what the disciples expected Jesus to do, but it was apparently not what He did.
“But they were terribly afraid and began to say to one another, ‘Who is this man? Even the wind and waves obey him!’ (Mark 4:41). What He did should have clued them in as to who He was (see Ps. 89:9 for example), but in Mark’s Gospel they are represented as rather dense and slow to comprehend the significance of what is happening right under their noses. Is the same not true of us sometimes?
Well this at least can be said of them, they knew to whom to turn for help in their crisis. Can the same be said of us?

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