Storm watch from my window.

The Wednesday Word Devotional – “Be Silent & Be Still”
by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 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?” 39 And waking up, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Be silent! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 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 4:35-41

I am writing this week’s devotional from home on a Sunday afternoon. My desk usually sits perpendicular to the window, but today I turned it towards the west-facing window so I could watch the weather while I work. It’s a cloudy sky, but not as ominous as expected. And, though the clouds have produced some rain, the much-anticipated torrential downpour has yet to come.

Many have been bracing for the storm that the experts have told us is heading our way. Some folks have prepared by filling sandbags and gas tanks, stocking up on non-perishables, and hunkering down for the weekend. As for me, I just filled my bathtub with water so I can at least flush my toilets if things get bad. Priorities!

Living in the desert, hurricane watch has not been a regular occurrence for us. Most of us don’t have storm shutters on our houses because, well, we don’t have storms. We don’t live in a place with tsunami sirens or earthquake drills. Compared to folks in other parts of the country, we don’t spend a lot of time, thought, or energy on storms.

It got me thinking about the idea of preparing for a storm. The truth is, whether we have had much experience preparing for hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, or other wild weather events, we have probably all experienced emotional, spiritual, medical, or relationship storms in our lives. But how many of those storms did we ever see coming? How many storms have we braced for that never came? Whether literal or figurative, we have very little control over the storms that come (or don’t come) our way.

In Sunday school this morning, the kids learned about the story of Jesus calming the storm. As I read the scripture in the book of Mark, it doesn’t appear as if it was a storm that they had seen coming. After all, Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat! Depending on the translation, we read about a “furious squall”, a “great windstorm”, and “gale-force winds”, causing the water to “break over”, “beat into”, and “crash over” the boat. That sounds like a Category 5 hurricane to me! I can easily picture their boat being tossed about in the water, but it’s harder to picture Jesus just chilling in the stern. It seems as though his disciples had a hard time with this too. You get the impression that they feared for their lives. Now some of those disciples were fishermen who were no strangers to the sea, so for them to wake Jesus up to help them, it must have been bad! And what does Jesus do? He orders the wind to be silent and the sea to be still. And they were. Immediately!

There are a lot of lessons about both fear and faith in this one-paragraph story and I invite you to meditate on this scripture throughout the week and see what message you receive. For me, the takeaway is that when I find myself in the middle of a storm, my best course of action is to go to God, who is always in the boat with me. And then just be silent and still.

This is a particularly sunny season in my life. For that, I give thanks. But I have certainly weathered my share of storms. If this is a stormy season for you, please accept this prayer as my gift to you.

God of the wind, God of the sea, and God of me.
Help me to be silent and still.
When the rain comes down and melancholy sets in,
Let my hope in you overcome the sadness in me.
And help me to be silent and still.
When the thunder rolls in and fear rumbles in my gut,
Let your peace dwell deep in my heart.
And help me to be silent and still.
When lightning strikes and fires burn all around,
Let me be grounded by your word.
And help me to be silent and still.
God of sunrises and sunsets, mornings and nights.
Help me to be silent and still.