MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool (June 21, 2021)

Does it sometimes seem that the storms of life assail you, and yet Jesus is uncaring? At the end of Chapter Four of the Gospel of Mark, we read about a literal storm that overtook the disciples as they were crossing the Sea of Galilee. As they struggled to keep the ship afloat, Jesus was sleeping in the hinder part of the ship, and it seemed to the disciples that He had no care for their safety. So what do you do when Jesus is asleep on your ship?

First of all, let us understand that the storm was real. Do we sometimes dismiss the severity of the storms that people face in their lives? Do we quote trite sayings in trying to comfort them, such as “It could be worse” or “Just be thankful you don’t have it as bad as others have it”? What if it really COULDN’T be worse?!? Let us not be guilty of lack of sympathy and empathy – the storms I have faced in my life have been BAD, and I struggled greatly with them! In this account, the ship was assailed by a “great storm of wind,” and “was not full.” (Mk 4:37). This was a REAL STORM, friends!

Secondly, notice how the disciples responded to the great storm in their path. They were clearly afraid, worried about sinking and drowning. This “great” storm was about to capsize their boat, and they were working desperately to forestall a disaster!

But did you notice how, initially, they left Jesus out of the equation? They didn’t go immediately to awaken Him, instead trying to take care of the situation themselves. There are basically two responses to storms in life: you can TAKE IT OVER or TURN IT OVER! Here, they tried to take it over – tried to control the wind, or at least control the ship in the winds.

Do you see the problem here? Jesus had been telling them Who He was, and they had seen His power demonstrated, and yet they did not immediately run to Him for help. Is that not too often the case with us? Don’t we often try to “work things out”, without seeking the divine help of the One Who loves us?

In any event, as expected, they reached the end of their own capabilities. When all efforts had failed, and the ship was now full and about to sing, their terror gave way (as it often does) to anger. Isn’t this often the first place we go? “Lord, don’t You care about me?” The truth is, He cares the MOST! And the fault lies with their faithlessness, not His faithfulness: they would never have gotten here if they had gone to Him first!

You see, the disciples had heard His words, had seen His works, but STILL they doubted Him. They knew Jesus in theory, but the reality had escaped them. To them, He was just a sleeping concept in the back of their boat!

But finally, notice what happens when the finally come to the Savior for help: He rebukes the wind, and upbraids them for their lack of faith (Mk 4:39-40). He directly addresses both the impending problem and the underlying issue, as He usually does!

You see, if they had just listened to what He had said, and believed His words, there would have been no fear in the disciples. In Mark 4:35, Jesus had told His disciples to get into a ship, and said, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” (Mk 4:35). Notice that He did NOT say, “Let’s get into the ship and go out into the sea and drown.” No! He had promised them they would be going over to the other side! When Jesus makes a declaration like this, you can be sure that it will happen – why? Because He has all power in heaven and in earth! When Jesus promises safe passage, safe passage there will be!

What a lesson for us! Make no mistake – the storms of life WILL overtake us, but remember that the Savior is on board. He may seem to be sleeping, but He is ALWAYS there – Heb. 13:5: I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Is Jesus a reality in your life? Even as a child of God, we can some times consign Him to the role of a sleeping concept on the ship of our life. Remember that, later on, the disciples will be utterly fearless, proclaiming the gospel in the most severe persecutions, facing even martyrdom. Had they possessed the faith this day that they would possess later on, they could have slept with Jesus in the midst of the storm!

My dear friends, Jesus is more than a mere concept or theory; He is the most solid fact of our lives!  It is our grasp of that fact that wavers, but in the storm Jesus goes from being a mere concept to the very reality of our lives; knowledge becomes trust in storms of life! Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a storm to remind us Who Jesus really is.

Jesus did NOT promise smooth sailing, but He DID promise a safe landing; notice Mark 4:35 and Mark 5:1: “Let us pass over unto the other side,” “[a]nd they came over unto the other side.” IF JESUS SAYS WE ARE GOING TO THE OTHER SIDE, WE ARE GOING TO THE OTHER SIDE! Though circumstances may seem overwhelming, the Savior is the Overcomer Who can bring great peace (v. 39) from a great storm (v. 37)

Jesus replaced their fear of the great storm with a greater fear of God (Mk 4:41). They “feared exceedingly” because they now KNEW that God was present in the person of Jesus Christ!

May our fear of God replace our fear of the storms we are experiencing in life!

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor