6-18-15 - Calm

Sometimes it seems like God is taking an awfully long time to swing into action. And maybe that’s because things that seem insurmountable to us are just a matter of a word for God, and what strikes us as nail-bitingly late is right on time for the Creator of the universe.

In this week’s gospel, when the disciples find themselves imperiled in a sudden squall on the Sea of Galilee, and they discover Jesus in the stern, blithely sleeping through all the excitement, they wake him up, saying, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ Jesus does not get up and join the hysteria. He just calmly exercises his authority over creation.

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.

One word from Jesus, and it all died down. No more wind, no more waves, no more panicked heartbeats. In fact, we’re told, there was a dead calm. It went not back to normal, but to a complete calm. Jesus did not have to pray in a dramatic fashion, whip up a frenzy of faith, plead with the heavens – he just calmly spoke peace to the elements, and his word had the power to calm, to make things so still it could only have been by his action – Jesus doesn’t do things by halves.

But why did he wait so long? Well – was it so long? Didn’t Jesus act as soon as he was asked to? The better question might be, why did the disciples take so long to ask for help? Why do we so often get ourselves into a state, deep into a difficult situation before we think to ask Jesus for help?

I have prayed more constantly this week than ever before, with my cat in a bad way and my having to be out of town for an important family birthday. Monday morning both cats were extremely upset, as was the overwhelmed cat-sitter. I was overcome with fear that the stress would further harm my sick cat. And though it was hours before I knew the storm had been stilled – it had been. A friend offered to help out, and that evening she found the cat in a peaceful state. I believe Jesus worked through her gentle presence to bring even more calm, both to cats and cat-sitter. Christian community is a wonderful gift that way.

Peacefulness and calm are markers of God-Life. Not that the Spirit is some kind of spiritual Prozac, evening everything out – Jesus certainly displayed emotions like righteous anger, grief, praise. But storminess is not the way of God. A Lord who can rebuke the wind and command the sea is a Lord who can still our spirits, as we ask, and as we allow.

Maybe the reason it sometimes takes me so long to feel his peace is because my spirit, with all its freedom, is not yet as responsive to Jesus’ command as are the winds and waves.

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