Scripture: Mark 4:35-41
Key verse: (39) “Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.”
Reflection: Over the desk in my office is this amazing piece of art entitled, “Storm at 13 Mile.”
It’s by Richard Bickel, an artist who lives and works in and around the Apalachicola Bay in North Florida. I can’t imagine a more physically demanding job than harvesting oysters. These hard working people put 12 ft. rakes into the bay, scrape the oysters off their reefs and pull the rakes back into their boat to collect their catch. They do that hundreds of times a day in the heat of the sun until they have a pile large enough to make the effort worth their while. Suffice to say, oystermen live really hard lives. They probably look something like the people Jesus chose to be his first disciples. In fact, when I first saw this photograph, I counted twelve oystermen; though I’ve never been able to get past ten since then. These particular oystermen are working the Apalachicola Bay at the 13 Mile Marker as a storm is rolling in. I’ve always been struck by how remarkably calm they seem to be in the midst of the coming storm.
In the face of the storm in Mark 4, Jesus’ disciples were not calm. In fact, they were terrified, believing they were about to die. In the meantime, Jesus is sleeping in the front of the boat. In their panic, they cry out, “Do you not care that we are perishing!?” What a fascinating thing to cry out to the Savior of the world. Jesus wakes up, and in an instant, calms the seas. Then the apostle’s get even more afraid. The English there is translated, “they were filled with great awe.” The Greek there is ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν, (ephobAYthesan PHObon MAYgan.) The root of the first two words is phobos—from where we get the word “phobia.” It’s not “awe;” it’s paralyzing fear. The final word is the origin of the English prefix mega, meaning “great or large.” In other words, they feared with great fear. They were even more afraid then when they were in the storm! Apparently, Jesus’ power to calm the storm means he’s even more powerful than the storm, and that frightens them, because they really don’t know who he is yet.
Of course, we do; which brings me back to the photograph. Part of what I love about it is the calmness of the oystermen. I have no idea whether they are people of faith or not. But they remind me in the midst of the storms we face, we can remain calm. Why? Because Jesus is in the boat. And he’s stronger than any force we may face. The Apalachicola Bay is special to me because when I was in high school, my Mom and I would go to St. George Island, crossing a bridge over that bay, not far from the 13-mile marker. St. George was sanctuary for us in the midst of some seriously stormy seasons in our lives. Looking back, I realize Jesus was in the boat with us through all that. We made it through.
Seeing this photograph, I’m reminded in the midst of every storm we face in life, Jesus is in the boat. So we need not fear.
Prayer: In the midst of whatever storms may come my way this day, help me remember, O Lord, you are in the boat. Therefore, I will not fear. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].