And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” [Mark 4:37-41]
Life is often described as a storm. This past year in college, starting from the summer before, has been the greatest storm of my life, with intermittent periods of stillness. Our lives are always about movement – we always have something to do, somewhere to be, someone to engage with. I’m at a point in my life where I actually can’t even physically sit completely still, or I’ll get bored (but perhaps that’s just the dancer in me that refuses to stop moving).
Jesus told the sea to be still. Another translation is Him telling the sea to be quiet. He also rebukes the disciples for not having faith in Him, as if He wasn’t already taking care of them and was completely oblivious to the state of their lives. We often ask God, and even get angry at Him, “Where are You? I need You right now! Why aren’t you doing anything?” God has never, and will never leave us. He is already there in the boat with us, knowing when and what exactly to do.
God does not need to settle for us sinners, but He does. However, He does not settle for less than our full attention, and He will not compete for it. When our lives are busy and we prioritize other things, God becomes a distraction from everything else in our lives, rather than everything else being a distraction from God. God speaks to us when we are still, much like He was able to get through to Jacob when he had given up everything and humbled himself (Jacob wrestles with God).
This was a piece of art hanging on the wall at a church I served at last year. The phrase ‘be filled’ seemed to rise above the flowing water. Only when we’re still can we be filled with God’s presence. He must increase, but I must decrease. [John 3:30]
What would it look like for us to be still? I challenge all of us to even try to be physically still, and then try to be mentally still. It’s harder than it sounds, isn’t it? But if God can tell an actual, chaotic storm to be quiet and to be still, how much more can He do that for our stormy lives. Perhaps He’s simply telling us to be quiet and stop questioning Him about our lives, and recognize He is God.
Find rest my soul in Christ alone. Know His power, in quietness and trust. When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm. Father You are King over the flood, I will be still and know You are God. [“Still” – Hillsong United]