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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Start:Stop - Steer us through storms

Bible reading

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41)


Jesus' reaction to the storm (to sleep) and his response to his disciples after the stilling of the storm ("Why are you frightened? Have you still no faith?") suggest that he had expected the disciples to ride out the storm both by acting as responsible sailors and trusting in God to see them through. Jesus is able to sleep because he trusts his disciples to get him safely to the other side of Lake Galilee, even in the midst of a storm. After all, many of them are fishermen, experienced sailors, while he is, as a carpenter, a landlubber. The disciples know boats and they know the lake, it makes sense that he would trust them to sail safely from one side of the lake to the other. He trusts them enough that he can catch up on some sleep while they get on with doing what they are actually very good at doing. The disciples have skills and knowledge of sailing and Jesus expects them to use these and trusts that they will use them well.

Instead, they are panicked by the storm, forget to do the things that sailors should do in a storm and, as a result, come close to going under. The problem comes, of course, when they don’t use their skills and knowledge well. The strength of the storm is such that they panic and don’t take actions (like taking down the sail, bailing out the water, and steering against the storm rather than with it) which would have enabled them to ride out the storm and get to the other side of the lake. They made the situation worse by panicking and it was their panic which could have got them killed.

This, I think, is why they are rebuked by Jesus for lack of faith. Essentially, he was saying, “If you had trusted in God to see you through the storm, you would have done the sensible things that would have enabled you to survive. But, because you didn’t trust in God to see you through, you panicked, didn’t take sensible actions, nearly got us all drowned, and needed me to intervene to save you.”

This seems a saluatory tale for us in the unanticipated storms of life – whether, the credit crunch and the recession it caused or more personal storms such as ill health or redundancy. Instead of panicking and looking for a miraculous instant solution to the storm in which we find ourselves, the faithful thing is to act responsibly, securing what can be secured and steering our way through the storm, trusting that we will come through, battered and blown, but alive nevertheless.


Lord Jesus, help us respond to the challenge of your question to the disciples as we face the storm of this time of austerity. May we trust, and in our trust, take the responsible and sensible decisions that will secure our futures and those of others, both those we support and those who depend on us.

Steer us through storms, as we trust in the skills and experience you have given.

Lord Jesus, guide us as we make decisions in difficult times – the storms of life. Enable us to take the long view as we decide rather than acting only in the short-term, enable us to act in the wider interests of others – the common good – rather than thinking and acting primarily in our own self-interest.

Steer us through storms, as we trust in the skills and experience you have given.

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving each of us skills and experience. We pray that these will not be negated by a sense of panic in times of storm and difficulty but that we will trust enough in all you have given us to believe that if we use our skills and knowledge well, we will come through.

Steer us through storms, as we trust in the skills and experience you have given.


Trust in God, trust in God’s leading, trust in responsible actions, trust in the skills and experience God has given, trust in the midst of storms and difficulties. May those blessings of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain with you always. Amen.


Belle and Sebastian - The Ghost Of Rockschool.

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