Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:38-40 NLT
Besides Jesus and Jonah, I don’t know of too many people who take naps on boats during chaotic storms. I think I would be freaking out like the disciples. Eighteen-year-old Ellen Harmon found herself in the middle of storm on a steamboat in the north Atlantic. The boat rocked and tossed one lady out of her bed. Another lady screamed in terror, before asking Ellen if she was not terrified as well.
I told her I had made Christ my refuge, and if my work was done, I might as well lie in the bottom of the ocean as in any other place; but if my work was not done, all the waters of the ocean could not drown me. My trust was in God, that he would bring us safe to land if it was for his glory. -Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1, Page 81.
Young Ellen could have been terrified like the disciples were during their storm, but instead she rested her faith in the love of Jesus. She was not afraid. She had faith that God would do what was best.
One day, while helping out at the church school where I give Bible studies, I was sharing the story of Jesus calming the storm. When I got to the end of the story where the water was all calm and peaceful, a third-grade boy raised his hand and asked, “How is the boat going to get anywhere now?” He was pointing out the obvious, that wind and waves are what carry a sail boat. Without any wind you can’t get anywhere! (We’re talking about boats in Jesus’ day.)
For eleven years, I enjoyed being the Bible Worker for the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church here in Florida. I saw people coming into the church right along, and was getting paid a rather fair amount compared to other Bible Worker salaries. Still I had a lingering multi-thousand dollar debt from the past that I just could not seem to get rid of.
One night about a year ago, I got a text from the pastor that he needed to see me the next day. I had a fair idea of what it was about. The church had been struggling financially and was having a hard time paying my salary. I texted a friend to pray for me. She texted back, “God has a plan.” I have to admit that that night her text seemed pretty hollow, since I had no idea what the plan might be.
The next morning, before I met with the pastor, I went to teach my Bible class at the church school. Before the regular teacher turned the class over to me, she shared a testimony from something in her life that led her to trust God and no one else. I knew that testimony was not for the students. It was for me. Sure enough, when I met the pastor he told me what I already knew. The church could no longer be responsible for my salary.
Eleven years is a along time to be a Bible Worker for one church. I had made a lot of friends at Tampa First. I had a lot of connections and people I was studying with. Yet it was all over. Or so I thought.
It was actually the beginning of something much better! Plant City SDA Church, a small church nearby did not have any money to pay my salary either, but they set up a fund where people could contribute to my salary and allow me to do Bible Work in their church as well as continuing my studies with people at Tampa First. I also picked up a small regular job. Tampa First let me go in May, and gave me a monetary gift. Then something amazing happened! With both jobs and the gift, I had my multi-thousand dollar loan paid off the day before Thanksgiving!
I also started building new relationships at the new church with which I was working and began several new studies to add to the studies I already had at Tampa First. Now, a year later, I have no unsecured debt for the fist time in years. God let me keep all my friends and studies at Tampa First and gave me many new friends and studies at Plant City. That night a year ago, when my friend texted, “God has a plan” it seemed pretty hollow. Now I look back and think, That was a great plan! God sent a storm that got me exactly where I need to be!
At the end of the storm Jesus asked the disciples why they were afraid and had no faith. I always assumed He meant why they had no faith that He could calm the storm, but that is exactly what they were asking Him to do. Maybe He was asking them why they needed Him to calm the storm? While some storms are scarier than others, is it possible they all get us to where we need to be? Will we really get anywhere in life if Jesus calms every storm that comes our way? Are there times we should let the storm rage, and do like 18-year-old Ellen and rest our faith in Jesus, just like Jesus was resting in His Father’s love during His storm? (Don’t ask me why Jonah was resting during his storm – I have no idea!)
Sometimes it takes more faith not to ask for a miracle. With God’s love we can face the roughest storms and not be afraid. That’s what 18-year-old Ellen Harmon did. I firmly believe, if Ellen Harmon had been in the boat during the storm with Jesus and the disciples, she would have been resting with Jesus, unafraid and full of faith in God’s love amidst the tremendous waves, instead of freaking out with the disciples.
Sometimes He calms the storm. Other times He calms His child.