Calm in the Storm7
by Sarah Waldrop
One of the best gifts I received as a new mom was a devotional book from my Mom, with short daily devotionals that she had gone through and made notes after. This has been such a loved gift during those early morning feedings when things were still quiet and even during naptime when I had a sense of normalcy. Below is an excerpt from the book titled “Calm in the Storm” about the disciples being tossed about in the boat while Jesus slept from Mark 4.
You would think with COVID and being at home I would feel more calm and in control as I navigate life with a new baby. Ironically, it had the opposite effect on me. We had just kind of reached the “all clear” mark of being old enough to venture out into the public when here’s this new worry: Corona Virus. I had the baby routine down, but since getting out and about outside the house was now not much of an option, I was even more overwhelmed with my household responsibilities and what was going on around me, not to mention working just about full time from home. As someone who frequently falls victim to the sin of ‘sloth’, I often let the anxiety build while pulling back and letting things fall apart around me. We can talk all day about how overwhelmed we are, but actually ASKING Jesus for help and calling on him will calm the waves.
Calm in the Storm
“A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.” Mark 4:36”
“I love that phrase from today’s scripture, ‘already being swamped.’ It doesn’t show up in every translation, but when it does, it stands out. Because it’s describing my life. I wake up in the morning – or at whatever time my day officially “starts,” thanks to my newborn – and before I’ve even gotten out of bed, my life is already being swamped. I can almost imagine water sloshing over the sides of the bed, the mattress rocking violently on a stormy sea. Baby, laundry, meals, dishes, a bathroom shower sporting some creepy pink growth – all of the million things I need to do threatening to drown me. And I haven’t even put my feet on the floor yet. When did life become a Category 5 hurricane.
It reminds me of a marvelous quote by C.S. Lewis, which I’ve kept on a card for most of my adult life. He talks about how when we first wake up in the morning, all our cares and hopes come rushing at us ‘like wild animals’:
‘The first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming on out of the wind.’
Coming in out of the wind. That’s exactly what I crave. When my boat is already being swamped, I want to beat back the waves, row to calmer waters, stand back from all my ‘natural fussings and frettings.’ I want that other, calmer, steadier life to come washing in, like a fresh tide.
The problem is, my ‘fussings’ are exactly what Lewis says: natural. They are part of my personality. They are not the result of my chaotic life; they are born of the human tendency to fret and my own tendency to stew and obsess. They are a reminder that I must discipline my mind and heart to focus on what’s really important, to cultivate and practice gratitude, to take a deep breath and bear witness to God’s work in the midst of the mess.
When the disciples saw Jesus asleep in the stern in Mark 4:38, waves crashing around them, they were justifiably freaked out. How could he sleep through all this? They woke up, ready to dump their fussings and frettings onto somebody who should be freaked out too. ‘Teacher,’ they shrieked, ‘don’t you care that we’re going to drown?’ Notice how they didn’t ask – or even expect – him to help, merely to share in the general panic. And notice, too, how he didn’t answer their question, which was a stupid one anyway, but instead addressed the immediate problem by calming the storm (see verse 39). There. Done. And you were saying . . . ?
So on those days when life with a baby threatens to swamp my boat, it’s not enough to simply tell Jesus how stressed out I am. I need to ask him to help. “