Thursday, July 06, 2006

Q: Is Jesus annoyed when we ask him for help?

Some of the familiar Bible stories are almost opaque to me. I have become so insulated from their power and deaf to God's whisper by the lamination of overfamiliarity that I might as well wrap them in cotton batting and put them in the attic for all the good they do me.

But then, the Holy Spirit does something about it. Last week, I finally encountered Jesus stilling the wind and the waves in Mark 4.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?"

I asked myself, "What would have happened if the disciples had not awakened him?" Well, it appears that the boat would have been swamped and sunk. When Jesus rebukes them, is he saying that they should have taken no action but instead sit peacefully with their faith? Why, of course not!

What would he have wanted them to do? He clearly wants to be the provision of what they need. Jesus isn't rebuking them for waking him from his sleep and asking for his help. That, just as we find in our own storms, is the only way to be saved from the waves. He takes the same action he would have taken if they had awakened him without fear -- he calms the storm. But he knows their hearts and shows us and them what he considers truly important. Do they live in an igloo of anxiety or in the homestead of hope, faith and knowledge of his love?

What does Jesus want? He wants our love and trust. How will we act if we love and trust him? We will wake him and ask him for what we need. Does he want to provide it? Why, yes. Is he surprised and dismayed when we can't provide our needs for ourselves? Absolutely not.

Wouldn't he prefer that we leap directly to asking him for grace and help before spending an agonizing length of time trying to fix things on our own? Doesn't he long for our presence and love as if he were a bridegroom, hoping that we will find our all in him? Didn't he make the longest journey from heaven to us in hope that we might turn to him with joy when he taps us on the shoulder? Isn't it stupid and pretentious to overlook his power and aid in hope that we can take care of business by ourselves?



Therese Z said...

This is an important question, because I think it's tempting to be a little passive about things, saying "well, it's God's will."

As the Irish say, "you'll have to stand for a long time with your mouth open before a stuffed goose flies into it."

I think we have to try, and try and fix things, because it shouldn't be a "then I'll ask for help" thing. It should be a "ask for guidance and grace first" and then "keep your eye on the Lord" during and "ask for help with humility" when the unfixable rises up.

It takes humility to ask for guidance and for freedom from pride of accomplishment BEFORE some project or challenge gets started. I know I lack this in serious amounts.

Good topic.

MTR said...



That was great.

Thanks for that!



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