Summary: Our dedication to arms-building reflects our personal insecurity and our lack of faith. God is Lord of History and efforts to make peace build His Kingdom.
Takoma Park Baptist Church, Washington, DC May 3, 1987
It’s a great gift to be self-contained, to be so secure within your own person that whatever is happening around you just does not get to you and shake you.
It's a great gift to have the presence of mind to focus on what you need to do, even when your life is disturbed by a thousand interruptions. I have had to learn at least a little about that, because I have found over the past few months that nobody, absolutely nobody, gets in and out of this building without coming right past my door, whether they are on their way to the office or to the kitchen or wherever, they come right past that door and sneak a little of my attention.
Now don't get me wrong; I like it. I like to be aware of you and I like to be able to greet you and to see you when you come through -- that's wonderful. But I have also learned that I have to be flexible enough to recover my concentration and to bounce back to whatever I'm doing without getting discombobulated. I well remember the Wednesday afternoon that everything from telephone calls to deliveries to folks looking for a few dollars worth of charity soaked up my time, and I shouted to one of our deacons, “We are just not going to have prayer meeting tonight.” But of course we did have it and survived, because I am learning, at least a little, how to focus and to concentrate in the middle of this happy chaos we call church.
But obviously I don't have what Jesus had. In a thousand ways I don't have what Jesus had. But in this particular especially. First there is the crowd, pressing on him, demanding to be taught, asking questions, draining him of energy. And so Jesus, in order to focus, in order to contain himself and to recoup his concentration, climbed in a boat. Curiously enough, the Scripture says, “Just as he was.” He didn’t take time to pack, to plan his itinerary, to buy travel insurance, I’ll bet he even left home without his Galilean Express card! But he knew his own needs and he was secure enough in himself that he just did what he needed to do. Into the boat for a little rest and recovery.
But then there is the boat ride. Jesus, asleep on a pillow in the stern, and the waves begin to mount up. Asleep when anybody else would be crying and screaming and probably losing his lunch, or at least bailing out with his shoes. Although I guess you don’t bail out much with sandals, do you? But picture it: the sudden squall whistling all around, little boats pitched about like so many matchsticks, waves roiling and roaring, helpless sailors trying to maintain some element of control and just trying to keep from taking an unscheduled bath … and in the stern of the boat the calm and collected snores of a tired teacher. What a picture!
Do you wonder why they woke him up? Why would they bother to disturb such calm? The text says that they woke him up and asked him, "Teacher, do you not care if we perish?" Teacher, do you not care if we perish; let's just say that a freer translation, the Smith Unpublished Version … another translation might be, "If I'm going to drown, at least I want you to see it. At least I want you to know about it, just in case you who speak so freely about God and His power might want to do a little something.” Hey Jesus, don't you see we've got problems here?
“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 afraid? Have you no faith?’ And they were filled with awe and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?’"
What a great gift, in the middle of the storm, to be able to rest, and then to focus and to concentrate, and to calm the troubled waters. "Peace, be still". He rebuked the winds and said to the sea and to the seafarers, “Peace, be still.” And you and I yet wonder, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?"
Without question you and I live in turbulent times. If there were not the turbulence of our own emotional overloads, there would still be the torrent of torn relationships. If there were not torn relationships, there would be these who drown in drugs and alcohol and other self-inflicted abuses. If there were not those abuses, there would be the whirlpools of economic collapse. And if there were not the financial problems, over it all we would feel the strong winds of war. We too live in turbulent times.