Maybe Not Asleep in the Boat

February Worship Devotion

“Then he got into the boat, and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’” Matthew 8:23-27

Asleep? Really? This passage always blows me away when I read it. And I’ve said it so many times to so many people. … In my life, I want to be asleep with Jesus at the bottom of the boat. That’s what I’ve always thought that I wanted. It sounds spiritual, but if I’m honest, what I think I really want is to escape the storms of life altogether, just content to fall asleep with Jesus instead of face them.

Elijah knew all about storms, both metaphorically and literally. (1 Kings 19). When a wicked queen threatens to hunt him down and kill him, in a moment of fear, Elijah runs for his life and finds himself alone under a bush, wishing he could just die under all the pressure. He runs from his storms, and God finds him asleep under that bush. Giving him enough food for his long journey, God leads him to a cave where he spends the night.

Seemingly alone in this cave, I can’t imagine what Elijah must have been feeling. And there, in that cave, God speaks to him. But God’s voice isn’t in the wind rushing by the cave. God’s voice isn’t in the earthquake that follows or the fire that follows that. No, and this is what blows me away, God’s voice is in a whisper. How, in the middle of all of that craziness, was he able to hear that gentle whisper from God? And it hit me between the eyes. Elijah could hear God’s voice for two reasons—because he had heard His voice before and because He was in the storm. Elijah had heard God’s voice many times before and could tell the difference between the sound of Him speaking and much stronger and louder voices. That takes time to hone in on. Times of trusting and depending. Times of listening and obeying.

But the second reason is what speaks loudest to me personally (pun intended). Elijah was so desperate for God to come and rescue that he wasn’t distracted. The voice of God was all he was listening for. I think I’m scared of being uncomfortable, scared to go through anything difficult. I want everything like I’ve come to expect here in America—fast and easy. But that is just not the way that God operates. He uses storms in our lives to teach us. And we don’t get ears that hear God’s voice without storms.

So, at the bottom of this boat, Jesus was not escaping the storm by sleeping, and He wasn’t ignoring His friends’ call for help. Jesus was just so comfortable in a storm and had such confidence in God’s voice and His power to save, that He could even sleep in the middle of it. It’s such a good picture for me, and something I want to practice this year. I don’t want to be afraid of storms in my life, but I want to learn how to hear God’s voice and respond to it through the storms that occur. And I would pray the same for you, that you could learn to hear God’s voice and respond to it because of the storms in your life, not in spite of them.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
- James 1:2-4

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