Peace Be Still

There are moments when calm seems to appear out of nowhere.  It can happen at the least expected times in our lives.  When all seems to be in an uproar, a small yet defining moment of peace appears and overwhelms our situation.  It doesn’t always stay.  It isn’t always noticeable to anyone else.  It is just for a moment.  In our greatest times of need, it is as if peace is being spoken.  And it is a welcome message for us all.

Being experienced on the water was their trade – it was in their blood – it was their lifeline.  It is almost as if these guys were born on the water.  They lived it, they breathed it, it was always a part of them.  They had encountered abundance as they threw out nets and brought in a catch that would not only feed their family but others as well.  They had felt the agony of returning home with nothing and wondering what went wrong.  The exhaustion of trying all night long weighed heavy like a big wet blanket over them.  The excitement of THE catch overjoyed them for days.  It was a life of highs and lows, like most any.  No one knew the waters better than them.  No one understood the tides and could predict the weather like they could.  They were the ‘go to’ for most anyone.  They were the fisherman of the town.  It was generational.  But more than that, it was a part of who they were.  They had been through more storms than they could even count at this point.  They had wondered if they would come out alive – and kissed the ground when they finally arrived.  To say that the water was their home would have been more than accurate.  They were fisherman after all.

So to know that those who spent their life on the water were scared speaks more volumes than words can ever express.  Language cannot hold the amount of fear felt by these guys.  Imagine a storm that frightens experienced, lifelong fisherman.  They just knew this storm could be their last.  It may be the last time they ventured out onto the water.  It may be the last time they saw their families.  This was THAT storm.  And they were caught.  The wind was so fierce, there was no steering the boat.  The waves were crashing so hard, they wondered if the boat would become swallowed up.   They did all they knew and it still wasn’t enough.  Nothing would ever be enough with this one.  The sea was angry and they were enveloped in the brunt of its anger. Fear is a mild word for what they felt.  They worked and held on, they did all they knew just not to capsize.  Just hold on until it passes…if it ever does.

One person in the boat was calm, not anxious at all about what was going on.  The waves did not shake him.  The water didn’t awake him.  He was not fearful.  And he was not even a fisherman.  Not being a fisherman could account for his ignorance of the magnitude of the storm.  Maybe he didn’t understand that they could easily die from this.  Maybe he was oblivious to the severity.  So they would explain it to him.  This was their home and they knew the danger they were facing.  Get up and pay attention…it may be the last you ever see!

And yet, it was not the end.  He was not anxious because he knew what was needed.  He was not overwhelmed because this was actually his creation, not theirs.  And so he gets up and speaks…and when he does, things change in the blink of an eye.

Mark 4:35-41

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 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?” 39 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. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 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?”

Three simple words spoken from him changed everything.  Three words breathed a renewed life into an otherwise disastrous situation.  Three simple words became the catalyst that brought a calm that was unexplainable.  Peace be still.  Breathe that in for a moment…peace be still.

For my anxious mind, that speaks life.  For my overwhelmed heart, that covers me in calm.  For my fearful body, that slows the shaking.  Peace be still.  It isn’t the words, of course.  Anyone can say the words and they can mean nothing.  It is the words spoken by the One who brings peace that changes everything.  It is the words spoken by the Creator of it all – the ONE with power which really echoes into the very recesses of our fear.  Peace be still is more than a declaration from an encouraging speaker.  It is a command of the world around to simply stop – for the Creator has spoken.

I don’t know about you, but I allow the anxieties of this world to become a part of me.  I allow the fears that are in my mind to capture my being.  I allow the chaos of the day to rule my spirit.  It isn’t as if I seek it out.  I do not get in a boat hoping for a storm.  I am simply trying to live my life day to day.  I am just doing what I always do – working, trying to provide for my family, seeking to do my best.  I didn’t cause the storm.  I didn’t seek out to get caught up in it.  I would have avoided it if I had known.  But when I do get caught – my world becomes a whirlwind.  It is in times like these that the words of Jesus speak more to me than anything else…peace be still.

To hear the words takes some humility, I think.  It takes an acknowledgement that this is all out of my control.  I can’t do anything about this storm.  The waves are crashing and the boat is being thrown from one side to another.  All I can do is hold on and pray…and maybe scream a little.  But ultimately it is all out of my control.  This isn’t something I can fix.  I can’t row hard enough or long enough.  All I can do is hold on.  It is these times peace can happen.  It is when we let go, we can hear the words of our Savior speak peace.

I need to hear words of peace over anxiety…peace over my fears…peace over my worries and concerns…peace over my life and peace over my days.  Peace be still.  When our faith is in God, peace is the way.  When we trust in the Creator of it all, peace becomes possible.  When we realize that we are exhausted and give up rowing, peace takes over.  Peace be still.

They didn’t realize the one in the boat had such power.  They had failed to pick up on the cues who this really was.  This man was more than the average teacher.  This wasn’t your everyday guy.  This is the one who had power.  This is the one who could speak and the whole earth would listen.  This is Jesus.  Before we criticize them for their ignorance, we have to take a self-check.  Do we realize who is with us every single day?  Do we really know who it is we are following?  Do we understand who calls us his beloved?  How often do we forget the One who created us is still creating…and creating peace in us?  We can’t be critical of the fisherman, we find ourselves in the same place – even when we know Jesus is Savior and Redeemer.  Who are you trusting to speak peace in your life?

My prayer is that peace takes over you today.  The peace of God that goes beyond all of our understanding…may it wash over you.  The peace that allows us to breathe, may it calm you.  May Jesus speak peace to your chaos…and may you know the Savior is with you.  Peace Be Still.

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