© Carlos Padilla, November 2020
In 1747 a great storm was hitting a slave ship from Africa on its way to England. The captain, in his helpless battle with the rudder got to the point of desperation and cried to God for his life and his crew. That slave trader was transformed in such a way that he gave his life to Yahshua – Jesus Christ and to the cause of slavery abolition, helping his good friend and member of British congress William Wilberforce, whom he supported until the abolition. The weight of the sin that he carried was so great…! thousands of souls tortured for his sake under slavery. It was difficult for him to receive God’s forgiveness, but through His grace, finally he received it. Like so many souls that have cried to God before death or tragedy, that slaves trader cried to God in the midst of the storm and not only he received calm of the wind and the waves, but the salvation of his soul, through a special grace that he described in the most famous Christian hymn: Amazing Grace. That man was the pastor John Newton.
We see a transformed man due to a storm. We also face storms in life. Some take people who did not know God, to repentance and to seek Him. Others help us to get stronger in the faith, like the story of another storm, the most famous and which occurred in the Sea of Galilee where Jesus was in a ship with the apostles.
Mark 4:35-41: “And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
This Text tells how Jesus was taken to the ship by the apostles to cross to the other shore. What seemed like a peaceful crossing became a terrorizing experience for some experienced fishermen. Such storm aroused that the apostles cried afraid because water from the waves was getting in and the ship was starting to sink in the midst of the strong wind that was hitting. Calling on Jesus who was asleep, (can someone imagine Jesus asleep in such a situation? And He arose and rebuked and faced the wind and the sea saying: “Peace, be still” and the wind ceased and there was great calm.
Amazing story! But before, in the context of this we find Jesus in a situation where His fame was already great. He had healed many, like Peter’s mother in law, the lame man, He had explained the use of the parables, like the one of the Weeds of the Sower, He had preached to the multitudes, and the multitude was following Him around the Sea of Galilee. He had already chosen the 12.
As we see, the idea that Scripture is showing us here is that the Lord is with us in the midst of the storms of life, and we can cry out to Him and He will help us. But He asks that we have faith. He has authority over the creation itself, for He is the Creator, John 1, but also over all circumstances of our life.
Going deeper we get to think again, do we really think Jesus could sleep in the ship in the midst of a storm that was flooding with danger of sinking? The Lord does not sleep and guards us, we read in Psalm 121. God is always with us every day and in all circumstances, but to be a Christian does not mean not to face life, the challenges, the tragedies, but also the blessings. Although we can also understand that the Lord was exhausted after attending the multitude, healings, and teachings. Pastors and others who serve others will know what I am saying, and how, when they finish the day they fall exhausted, not even a storm is going to wake them. We also know that Jesus was used to seeking solitude with the Father, an habit of every good leader, like the teaching we find in the book of Ken Blanchard “Leading Like Christ”. The apostles had already seen Jesus in action. They could see He was the Messiah, His power, His goodness, His wisdom, His knowledge, His teachings, His love; but they were starting their walk with the Master. The same way us, as we grow we learn in faith to place our hope, not in this world, but in God, Romans 5. Then change of hope in the ship after the action of Jesus when he calmed the sea and the wind would be stunning. What they could not know is that when they would arrive to the other shore, the spiritual battle would be greater. The journey of the Kingdom had just begun.
Now, the key is that Jesus was in the ship. Is Jesus in our ship, in our life? If He is not, there is no way to calm the storm, but if we are with Him and follow Him, He is with us. There is a poem of Amy Carmichael which concludes “If only You are in our ship” from the Commentary to the Text of William MacDonald.
Today we also face storm in our lives, of all kinds. Familiar, at work, religious, of health, etc. In all of them the Lord will be with us to help us. Sometimes we will have to accept things that could not be, loved ones that dye, like by covid, or lost babies, jobs, lost relationships. On the other hand God takes us to other shores where the spiritual battle is greater, this is why when we face storms, we are entering another level of test for spiritual growth that will make us apt for the next development of ministry of our Christian lives.
We also see that Mark talks of different ships, but we can apply it to several churches of different friends, different missionary works, all of them face storms and go from shore to shore carrying the Gospel through the seas of this society in need of Christ – Yahshua.
Paul would also suffer a great storm when he left Crete to Rome. The centurion did not listen to him but the pilot and the patron and were left adrift losing all hope of saving their lives. But the angel of the Lord gave Paul all the crew, Acts 27. Also in Exodus 14 God opens the Red Sea while the Israelites would cross on the dry with panic, but Moses guides them to the exit from slavery to the Promised Land.
We have sailed today through different seas in the midst of several storms. The Sea of Galilee has connected us with the Sea of Crete to Rome, and the Red Sea. But also we started the sailing of our story in the sear from Africa to England when John Newton was taking the slaves to be sold. Moses took Israel out of Slavery, the same way that the Lord takes us out of the slavery to sin and to fear giving us faith. Jesus taught the apostles and Paul to carry out the Great Commission, the same as to us.
Today we have a challenge before us, a sailing of live in the midst of some storms like the present pandemic, lack of jobs, churches closed, dead relatives and a shaken world with very high waves and winds of uncertainty, but the Lord is in the ship of the life of those who love Him. The Holy Spirit lives in the temple of the believer like it says in 1 Corinthians 3:16: Don’t you know that you are temple of God and that the Holy Spirit dwells in you? Also prophet Nahum Chap. 1 verse 3b: “The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm…” But let us remember that the key is that the Lord must be in our ship. Let us cry out to Him in all times, praying every day and seeking and asking that He is the captain of our ship, only that way we will reach the other shore and will fulfil the purpose for which God has created our lives. Amen!