Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27
I was on a boat on the ocean. The voyage was not long. My friends and I had left the tip of Newfoundland and were making our way to St. Pierre and Miquelon, two French islands off the coast. The beginning of the voyage was great. A robust game of UNO kept our minds and hands busy. But gradually the game slowed and eventually it crawled to a stop. My stomach’s previous location was now vacant. The ocean’s waves were playing havoc with me. With each rise and dip of the boat’s bow I knew I was losing what little control of my stomach I had. My face was pressed up against the coldest part of the window I could find. With what little endurance I had, I prayed every verse of strength and fortitude and sang every song of victory in Jesus I knew. It wasn’t until my feet touched land again that my stomach returned to its home and my face lost its green-ish tinge.
I understand the disciples fear. I didn’t feel like I was going to drown, but I knew a desperation to keep my stomach contents where they belonged. These men were caught in a terrible storm, one that even frightened the most seasoned fisherman among them. This was a big deal.
Jesus was exhausted, spent from the work that He had been doing. Spent from ministering to those who needed His care and touch. Sleep was His only reprieve and a deep sleep it must have been to sleep through the storm.
Jesus comment to the disciples is a little harsh but it’s spot on. They were men who had the One who could still the storm with them and they were completely fearful! They had lost the ability to reason. The storm was louder than the confidence that they had in Jesus.
A word from Jesus mouth changed the entire picture. What had once been storm tossed waves and a tempestuous sky became peaceful. The change was instant, dramatic, final. In spite of the time they had already spent with the Maker of the World, they were awed by His control over His creation. The One who had spoken the waters into being was the One who could change their violence into peace.
Too often I listen to the storms around me. Worries that my heart obsesses over. Critical voices that clutter my mind. Complaints that register with a heart that is sometimes bitter. These storms have the power to drown out the gentle words of Jesus that He is longing for me to hear. I can entirely miss His reminders of love, mercy, compassion and grace because of the storms that I have chosen to listen to. It saddens my heart to think of what I have missed because I have let the noise deafen me. Ear plugs can be used to shut out noise that is bothersome or a problem. I would love to shut out the worry and complaint but to fully open my ears to what Jesus is saying to me and the places He is wanting me to walk in.
This Advent season, I will be tempted to add to the noise that already exists around me. However, I choose to plug my ears to the chaos so that I may be in tune with Jesus. Listening attentively to what He has for me.