“A Simple Little Journey”

Mark 4:35-41


            A simple little journey, a routine trip, a trip that you make every single day … one little thing different happens and that physical journey turns into a spiritual journey.

            For example, driving to and from work, a trip that you make every single day, and one day a friend calls you to talk. After the “Hey, how you doing?” generalities, your friend mentions he going through a divorce. A simple little journey, a physical journey, has now become a spiritual journey.

            Or, driving your kids to a summer activity they have. An activity that they have really been looking forward to, have been excited about, and really enjoy. After a couple of days of attending, you notice that there isn’t the excitement that there once was. You notice that your kid is just not themselves. You ask them what’s going on and they tell you that they just don’t want to go any more, they would rather stay home. Obviously, this is not normal, so you press them as to what is going on. They open up to you and quietly say that they have been getting bullied. A simple little journey, a physical journey, has now become a spiritual journey.

            In our gospel reading this morning, we have a simple little journey, a physical journey. Jesus says, “Let us go over to the other side” (Mark 4:35). Jesus is wanting to just go to the other side of the lake. As fishermen, this is a physical journey they have made countless times. For us, this would be like driving across town to the grocery store or Wal-Mart. We have done it countless times. But this simple little journey, this physical journey, is about to become a spiritual one.

            “That day when evening came, {Jesus} said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat” (Mark 4:35-36a).

            On the shore of the lake, the disciples start off in a place of confidence, the disciples are in control. Notice again what Mark said, “Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along.” They, the disciples, they took Jesus. This isn’t Jesus taking them. Even though Jesus is the one who wants to go over to the other side of the lake, it’s the disciples who take control. They’re like, “We got this Jesus. We have done this a million times, you just sit back in the boat and enjoy the ride.”

            How often have you said that? So, maybe not in those exact words, but how many times have you and I been like, “We got this Jesus! Thanks, but we’re good. You just sit back and relax”?

            There is this sense of confidence. I feel good about myself, things in my life are going well. There’s nothing in the future that I see happening that can rock this ship I’m driving. I’ve got the wheel Jesus, you just sit back and relax.

            But then Mark says, “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’” (4:37-38).

            This simple little journey, this physical journey … as the disciples move through a vicious storm … this physical journey just became a spiritual journey. With the furious storm coming up out of nowhere, with raging waves crashing down inside of the boat … whatever confidence and control the disciples had or felt they had … it’s all been washed away and drowned. They are now in a pure panic.

            In this moment of pure panic, totally helpless and at the mercy of the storm … the disciples do the only thing they can do! They cry for help! But they don’t just cry out to any one, they don’t cry out to each other and be like “do something!” No, they turn to the one person who they believe does care. They go to the front of the boat and they wake up Jesus. “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” (4:38).

            Often times the disciples get thrown under the boat for this. With Jesus right there in the front of the boat, shouldn’t they have known that nothing was going to happen to them? Shouldn’t they have had more faith? But the thing is, the way the disciples respond in this moment of pure panic … it’s exactly how they are suppose to respond. The disciples are actually doing the right thing here! They are turning to the one person who they believe does care and can actually do something about it.

            Let me tell you about Horatio Spafford. Horatio was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago who faced a series of devastating losses. First, his only son died of pneumonia in 1871. Shortly after that, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed much of his property and investments.

            Seeking rest and recovery for his family, Spafford planned a trip to Europe. He sent his wife and four daughters on ahead with the intention to join them later. His family boarded the SS Ville du Havre. Tragically, the ship collided with another vessel and sank rapidly. His four daughters died, however, his wife survived.

            As Spafford sailed to meet his grieving wife, he passed near the spot where his daughters had drowned. In that moment of profound sorrow and loss, Spafford turned to the one person who he believed cared about him. Spafford turned to God for comfort and penned the words to the hymn “It is Well with My Soul.”

            When the unexpected storms arise in your and my life … how do we respond? How do you respond when you lose confidence, when you lose control of the things happening around you? Do you turn inwardly and try to figure it out all on your own? Do you turn to someone else expecting them to help you? Or do you turn to the one person who cares about you more than anything else and can actually do something about it? In shock, in these stormy moments, cry out in prayer. Often times in those moments, we are actually crying out in prayer, we just do so without always realizing it.

            “{Jesus} got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm” (Mark 4:39).

            Jesus awakens and He’s on it. Jesus doesn’t first address the disciples in the boat, questioning them about not having faith and understanding who Jesus really is. No, Jesus turns His attention to the wind and the waves. Jesus speaks to them and they listen. The wind died down and there was a great calm about the water. The disciples are terrified. They say “who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him” (4:41).

            This one, this Jesus, He is the LORD, He is the Yahweh mentioned in Psalm 107. “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven” (107:28-30).

            And Jesus did just what this psalm says. Jesus then guided them, guided the disciples to their desired haven across the lake. This little simple journey, this physical journey across the lake with Jesus, a trip the disciples had made a countless number of times, becomes a spiritual journey. The disciples learned very quickly that they were not the ones in control. Even though Mark says that they were the ones who took Jesus into the boat, and that they were taking Him to the other side, it was Jesus all along who was truly guiding them. Mark 5 begins, “They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes” (5:1).

            This little simple journey of our life, this physical journey we are on, there is only so much we can do on it. No matter how confident we are, no matter how much we think we have control over things in our lives … to a certain extent, we don’t. God is bigger, far bigger than any of the life situations that you and I are or could be facing. We are dealing with the God of creation, the one who spoke all things into existence. The One who has the Master Plan of salvation.

            In their simple little journey, the disciples needed to realize that Jesus has their life in mind. Jesus has a much larger journey in mind for them. You see, Jesus was concerned about them … just as Jesus is concerned about you. Little ole you, little ole me … Jesus is concerned about us and has a much larger journey in mind. Jesus is concerned about your growth in faith. Know, believe in your hearts that Jesus is there with you, not sleeping on the job, but He is there leading you to have a stronger dependence on Him. And for those of you who need a sign, there it is.

            Your simple little journey is not over yet. As Horatio Spafford wrote in the hymn “It is Well with My Soul”, “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.” It is well, because God is always with you in your simple little journey. Amen.

            The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.


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