I have never been on an ocean cruise. I know a lot of people enjoy going on ocean cruises but I have a bit of anxiety when I am in a place where I cannot see land. I have a fear that a large ocean cruise vessel will be out in the middle of nowhere in the ocean with no land nearby and have some terrible issue that will require all of the passengers being on board for days with little or no provisions. This actually happened to a few people from our town a couple years ago. They were on a big cruise ship out in the Gulf of Mexico when it developed engine problems and all the passengers were stranded on the ship for days. Supplies began to run out. Facilities began to be useless. Food and water were limited. It was like being in the middle of the desert with no place to go. Instead of it being The Love Boat....it was the boat ride from hell. Those poor people finally made it back to shore with the apologies of the cruise line company and vouchers for another cruise in the future but most were so glad to be back on dry land that they were not sure if they would go on another ocean cruise.
There is a story like this in the Gospel of Mark about Jesus and his disciples being in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a big storm came up with winds large enough to cause the boat to begin to toss about and to be filled with water. The disciples were afraid for their lives and when they looked for Jesus to ask him to help them they found him asleep on a cushion. He was enjoying the rocking of the boat to and fro while they were scared to death. When they woke him up, and asked why he was sleeping when they were all about to meet their doom, he simply stood up and told the wind and sea to stop....and it did! They were amazed and said to each other, "Who is this that even the wind and the seas obey him?"
The disciples were nonplussed...one of my favorite words for not having any words to say in a certain circumstance. Can't you just see them standing there, their mouths wide open with disbelief, while Jesus returns to his spot to finish his nap? They were out of their minds with fear while he was enjoying some of the best sleep he had gotten in days.
Perhaps Jesus' calm in the middle of the storm had to do with his trust in God to care for him. Perhaps he was so confident that God would take care of him and his friends that he could drift off to sleep even when the storm tossed the boat up and down with the waves of the sea. Jesus' confidence and trust came about as a result of the relationship Jesus had with God. He had heard the voice of God speaking at his baptism, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased." He had known God's love revealed to him, day by day, as he chose and trained his followers and shared with them the news of God's Kingdom among them. He had taught the crowds and shared with them as he could all that God had revealed to him, and then he settled down for a much needed rest, confident in the love of God surrounding him.
The word we often use for God's care for us is Providence. It is a word full of meaning. It implies an over arching intention for good for us as we put our trust and faith in God. "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) This does not mean that everything that happens in our lives will be good. It means that through everything that happens in life, God will work to bring about good for us and that God's overarching plan for our lives is one of good intentions for us.
We may face rough seas as we navigate this life but we are confident that God's love and grace will care for us as we travel through life. When we, like the disciples, become afraid we can always look for Jesus and find him by our sides, ready to bring assurance to us that everything will be fine.
Peace! Be Still! Those are the words Jesus spoke to the storm. Those are the words Jesus speaks to our individual storms too. He will bring us peace even in the middle of the storms we face. Seek him...he is easy to find...maybe just a few steps away, resting and waiting for us to call on him.