August 30, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Mark 4:35-41 (NRSV)
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 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. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
It is a great certainty that, just like those on boats, we will face unnavigable storms. But it is also just as certain that there isn’t a storm on earth that Jesus is not sovereign over. He is kind enough to hush the chaos. Mark 4:35-41 shows us that disciples must broaden their capacity of trust. Jesus does more than what they see for themselves. Jesus can be trusted as the cosmic King who reigns over all of creation.
Unsolicited kindness has a way of evoking hope and wonder. As an engineer, I was on the recipient side of kindness. I would anticipate some long hours and difficult calculations with constant rework. That combination would guarantee I made errors. I was headed into chaotic projects and unexpectedly someone would provide a program or a previous project that eased the load. And I wondered if God was involved in steel design!
In Mark 4 we get to see God’s kindness in a boat. Some fisherman – naval leaders in their own right – are headed to the other side. God is kind to go anywhere with followers, not to mention bringing them along with him. He takes them along because they will be taking part in Jesus’s work. A huge storm comes out of nowhere; yet not really from nowhere. Unexpected chaos is the norm when humanity and the rest of creation have a marred relationship to the Creator. The experienced fishermen find themselves in a storm that is so bad that their conclusion is they will die. But Jesus shows God’s kindness by bringing peace to the circumstance. First, he is sleeping peacefully while the storm keeps raging, demonstrating what certainty in a storm looks like. Next, he awakes to allay their questions about security and kindly tells meteorology to hush. Then, in his kindness he does not destroy these fishermen for their frailties. Instead, he is consistent in asking the questions that beg broader answers.
I am grateful for the kindness of God taking us along for the ride. He is kind to put us in boats of familiarity that show us that whatever we know is not enough. He is kind to pause from one thing he is doing to turn to what troubles our weary hearts and tell it to hush. He is kind to show us that in his kingdom the weather must align with his purpose also. He is compassionate to turn and ask just what we need in order to help us really know him. But what really astonishes me is that Mark tells us: there were other boats with them (Mark 4:36).
There were other boats with fisherman-leaders in their own right – in the same storm of uncertainty. Surely, they too were fearful. They probably had tried everything they could to remedy the situation. But there was no Jesus at the stern to ask “Do you care?” Mark’s account gives no record that anyone from the other boats drowned. That “hush” he spoke to the storm was sufficient for all. The kindness of God is such that the proximity of God is relative when you understand that he is omnipresent.
Certainly, chaos will find us. There will be times where experience and knowledge won’t work because the wind is just too strong. We may be battered. But our Lord’s kingdom kindness should lead to wonder. You may not be in the first boat with titles and names as the apostles were. But have courage, beloved. He need not be in the boat to be completely with you. He is the cosmic King over all of creation. The winds, waves, failures, sickness, and onlookers will be hushed. God’s wonderful kindness and mercy extend from generation to generation, and from sea to stormy sea.
What are some areas of familiarity in life that you are capable of leading but could become overwhelmed?
Look more broadly: Where have you seen God hush chaos for you and actually do the same thing for others at the same time? Do you see it as a blessing for them also?
Think about your leadership style and approach when trouble comes. Consider how you typically approach those circumstances and ask yourself if they align with the Kingdom you know is coming. Ask and answer this question: What do I need to do with this problem if I really believe Jesus is the Lord over (fill in the blank)?
Father, we know with great certainty that trouble will come in many forms. But I am reminded that you are kind in ways we do not have the capacity even to imagine or think of. Where trouble comes, I am in agreement with this hymn writer’s words:
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or struggles or evil, whatever it be,
No water can swallow the ship where lies
the Master of ocean and earth and skies:
They all shall sweetly obey thy will.
“Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
When I am approaching chaos, please remind me of your promise to the disciples: “We are going to the other side.” And teach me humility to recognize that your kindness is all encompassing. Teach us to see that other boats without titles are receiving your goodness also.
I am reminded that we are dust. Thank you for reigning and ruling over all of creation and bringing everything back into order as you desire. Turn our hearts away from the storm and its implications and help me to remember your presence. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Discipleship in Process (Mark 4:35-41; 6:45-52; 8:14-21)
DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.