Scripture – Mark 4: 35-41
By Matt Bisel
To begin with, you need to understand that I am a kid from Kansas. My legs are land legs, not sea legs. I came to realize this the summer after graduating from high school. A buddy and I went to Oahu, Hawaii. We hiked, hung out on the beach, surfed, went scuba diving and then my friend wanted to go deep sea fishing. I thought it was a great idea – I was so naïve.
The day could not have gotten off to a better start. The sun was shining, the water glistening, dolphins played alongside of the boat, egging us out to deeper water. Our lines barely broke the surface when I got the first hit and wheeled in this huge fish (not even exaggerating), a Mahi Mahi. I was excited, I was having fun, I was starting to like this deep-sea fishing thing. But out of nowhere a funny thing began to happen. The fishing boat we were in started to feel way too small for such a large and open sea.
Up and down and side to side we went. The swells were huge, the boat was tossed between mountains and valleys of water. My land legs got a little weak, my stomach turned, my vision got a little blurry and my breakfast…well, it became one with the sea. I was so sick I can remember seeing the outline of the island on the horizon, thinking to myself, “I could swim back from here, I was on the swim team. Or, maybe it’d be one of those walk-on-water miracles.” I was completely out of my mind and overwhelmed.
Regardless of whether you have land-legs or sea-legs, the Gospel of Mark tells a story about the Disciples being completely overwhelmed by the sea. And let me remind you that these guys were hardy fishermen. I know it gets tricky to draw direct comparisons and that metaphor always breaks down at some point. But we all know what it feels like to be overwhelmed. We’ve all experienced one or two of life’s storms and in their midst, when the winds are howling and the waves are crashing, it feels like all is lost, that your life is going under. And to make it worse, sometimes it seems like Jesus is asleep in the boat. Perhaps you’ve wondered if he’s in the boat at all…I have felt that way at times.
- Have you ever felt overwhelmed by life?
- What did you do in the midst of the storm?
- Have you ever felt that Jesus was asleep in the boat, when it felt like God was nowhere to be found?
- Looking back at those times now, how do you feel? What got you through?
- What do you think Jesus meant when he said to the disciples, “Don’t you have faith yet?”
I wrestle with doubt. Sometimes it’s self-doubt, other times I have doubts about my faith. But regardless of whether I’m wrestling with doubts about what I believe or who I am, it feels like being in the middle of a storm and often it feels like Jesus is asleep on the boat. During those times I go to scripture and read the stories of people who struggled just like me. Or, I remember my own story, the times I’ve experienced God. But what I do more than anything is go to music. I go to the hymns, familiar melodies and lyrics that remind me of who I am and who God is – Jesus, master of the universe, great enough to calm the storms and close enough to calm my anxious heart.
Wesley’s Challenge Questions for the Week:
- Am I defeated in any part of my life?
- Is Christ real to me?