“Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?”
Mark 5:38b NLT
One of the most exciting stories I have in my personal repertoire is the birth of my youngest son, Samuel (Sammo). I save it for really boring social events or for really, really pregnant first-time Mothers.
This was my second child so, once admitted into the hospital, I progressed much faster than with my first. They had already told me it was too late for an epidural, but even the nurses didn’t believe I was ready to push when I said I was. There were three nurses in the room at the time and it was 5 minutes until the shift-change, so no doctor was currently in the delivery room. I remember they didn’t even have the table prepped for delivery – it was still in exaggerated dental chair mode (read: no stirrups). The pain was blinding – literally – everything around me was a blur. Voices were muted and a little bit echoed. I remember hearing one nurse asking another what size gloves they should put out because the shift-change would effect which doctor helped me deliver. I couldn’t even take in full breaths as I rolled onto my side and whispered “help me, help me.” It truly felt like I was drowning. For the first time in my life, I really thought I was going to die. Then, some kind of instinct beyond me kicked in and I remember my body bypassing my brain and just taking over the delivery. I pushed once and Sammo came flying out, landing on my leg and sliding off me onto the table. At that point, I finally had the attention of all three nurses in the room as they scooped him up and got to work checking vitals.
My doctor arrive about 10 minutes later and, with a grimace, told me that the staff took a vote and decided that the next time I need delivery help, I should just stay home and they will send over written instructions.
I will never, ever, ever forget the feeling of drowning I experienced that day. It’s hard to put into words what happened in my brain when I thought I was going to die… it really did feel like time slowed down. The reality of death immediately and intimately set in. It was like seeing something for the first time in “real life” that you’d only ever previously read about.
I thought about all that when I read the account of Jesus and his disciples getting caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. They were so terrified by the ferocity of the storm that they ran frantically to the back of the boat to wake Jesus for help.
“But soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically they woke him up, shouting, ‘Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?'” (Mark 4:37-38 NLT)
Reading the account from my safe desk chair, it would normally sound silly to hear them squawk about as Jesus – SON OF GOD – is right there with them SLEEPING. However, facing death is terrifying – I would say frantic was an understatement for what those disciples must have been feeling. My whispered “help me, help me” would’ve been an epic squawk if I had the lung capacity in my “near-death experience.” Danger of any kind – death, debt, failure, fights, etc. – makes us frantic.
But check out Jesus’ response to the danger:
“When he woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, ‘Quiet down!’ Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. And he asked them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?'” (Mark 4:39-40 NLT)
He always knew how to ask the questions that matter.
Why are you so afraid?
Do you still not have faith in me?
In life and in death and everything in between, we will face storms. Our ancestors have done it thousands of years before us and our children will continue to do it beyond us. But for every type of storm out there – birth, death and everything in between – Jesus is there, asking us why we are so afraid. Do we still not have faith in him?
He’s in the boat WITH US. The wind and the waves obey him. Nothing is beyond his power, plans and promise.
Messy Worship Challenge: This week, every time I encounter fear, I will pause and ask myself the two questions Jesus challenged his disciples with: Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in Him?
Dear Lord, in all the words I’ve read to describe you, frantic has never come up. You are full of purpose, of power, and of promise. No fear. No frantic squawking. You are the calm eye of the storm. You have a plan and a purpose for my life and I will have faith in you beyond my fear. Amen.