I can’t sleep. It has been a week since I returned to the States from the Philippines. The mission was impactful on so many levels. I saw hearts changed, souls saved, and walls torn down – both spiritually and literally!
I can’t sleep. Maybe it’s the jet lag. Maybe it’s the food I’m eating. Maybe it’s the quiet turmoil in my mind that restlessly keeps me awake as I wrestle with God’s will for my life in so many different areas. Whatever it is, I can’t sleep.
Time and time again we are told to be like Christ. We are instructed to be faithful, obedient, intentional, compassionate, and so much more. So today at 4:00 AM on a Monday morning, unable to sleep, I picked the Bible and continued my reading through the Gospel of Mark. As I was reading the fourth chapter I noticed something I had never seen before. Jesus is really good at sleeping!
If you’ve read Mark’s Gospel you may remember the time Jesus and His disciples were traveling by boat. Jesus had just finished teaching to the masses and left shore for the country of the Gerasens (Mk. 5.1). Two things stood out me for the first time: 1) There was more than one boat (Mk. 4.26) and 2) This storm was bad! (v38).
Think about it. A strong majority of the disciples were professional fishermen. Jesus lived in a day and age where traveling by boat was as common as people traveling by car and plane today. Storms were commonplace and part of the life on water. However, this storm was so strong that the disciples thought there were going to die. I’m sure they had experienced storms before. I’m sure they had plans, strategies, and tools to navigate the ravaging waters. But nothing seemed to prepare them for the storm they were in. They cried out to Jesus – who was fast asleep – for their salvation.
I’m not sure how I missed it all this time but I had assumed that Jesus was in the same boat as all the disciples. But He wasn’t. He may have been by himself. He may have been with some of the disciples. The boats may have been tied together or drifting apart. But I don’t think our focus should be on the boat. Nor do I think our focus should be on the storm. I believe our focus needs to be on the presence of Jesus.
All too often we get caught up in our own little boats. Our lives. Our schedules. Plans. Savings accounts. Education. Church. Family. We think we have it all together. We are like the disciples. We have experiences, strategies, and tools. Whatever comes our way, we can make it work.
Then there are the storms. Storms are the challenges that we prepare for and sometimes even expect. Sometimes storms come from out of nowhere. Death. Loss. Sickness. Storms come crashing into our lives and wreak havoc on our plans. Where we once thought to be in control – we now find ourselves floating recklessly in our little boats hoping not to capsize.
What I love about Mark’s account of this night is that Jesus was present with the disciples in the middle of the storm. Not only was He present. He was asleep! He was calm. And we get this idea that He actually expected the disciples to respond the same way. They cried out to Him. They woke Him up. Jesus tells the storm to stop. It does! Then He looks at His disciples and asks, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”(v40).
Whatever you are going through right now I want you to know that Jesus is with you. He may not be in your boat or He might be. Maybe you’ve asked Him into your plans or you have kept Him at arms length away. Whatever your situation you can know this: Jesus is present in your storm and is only a cry away. He has the power to give peace and the authority to calm the storm around you.
When I think of what it looks like to have Upside Down Faith I don’t have to look much further than this. Upside Down Faith looks like peace in the midst of chaos. Upside Down Faith looks like confidence when moving forward in the darkness of the night. Upside Down Faith looks like sleep even when my little boat is about to capsize. And I could really use some sleep right now.