It is striking how the same passage can speak into our lives in so many different ways. I have read this gospel a number of times and always find encouragement or conviction in a new area. This time it was conviction. I read the passage and thought to myself, “This is my prayer life.”
First, I get the idea of having Jesus sleep in the stern. So often life can feel like a boat with a napping Jesus. We might intellectually know that He is present, but would it kill Him (again) to wake up and make a little conversation?
Second, as the waves began to break over the ship and cause it to take on water things were frightening, bleak, and treacherous. Many of us don’t get caught in sinking ships these days, but we do find relationships capsizing, reputations going under, and the breaking of waves over us; waves of financial crisis, deterioration of health, unforeseen consequences, and many others.
Third, the Apostles seem to make progress when “They woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’” This seems good right? Life gets out of hand and you run to Jesus. But what their words betray now will shape their response later and often reflects my prayer life. They wake Him up only after it gets serious. How often do we only pray about “the serious stuff” cause we don’t want to “bug” God (FYI God exists outside of time so you can’t waste His time, can you?)? Also, did you catch the phrase, “we are perishing”? They are already resigned. They aren’t expecting their deliverance, just a little empathy. In crisis do we treat God like God or like your friend who you’ll commiserate with over a glass of beer?
Finally, things get better when Jesus wakes up and reminds creation who is boss. Even here the Apostles are convicting. Based on Jesus’ words to them and their amazement I see confirmation that they weren’t expecting full deliverance from the storm. How often do we treat God like that? Do we fail to pray courageously enough? Do we ask God for impossible things because with God all things are possible? Or do we filter out the impossible stuff, telling ourselves we are just being ‘realistic’, as if reality is determined by someone other than the creator of space and time?
Today, as you go to prayer, pray courageously. Don’t hinge your entire faith upon getting what you want, but don’t be afraid to ask the creator of the universe for big things! The God-man born of the virgin-mother will not be offended by you sincerely asking for the ‘impossible.’ He has a little experience in that area.