In Mark 4, Jesus speaks peace to a storm and it ceases— and that’s amazing, but backtrack a little in the chapter. The story begins in the evening when Jesus invites the disciples to adventure with Him across the sea. When I imagine an evening boat trip with Jesus, it includes a gorgeous sunset, a meaningful conversation, and a cool breeze chilling my skin — reminding me that I’m alive in the moment. The disciples had quite a different experience. Jesus falls asleep on a cushion in the back of the boat while wind and waves nearly overtake their vessel. Water is filling the craft. The disciples frantically wake Him up and, likely in terror, one of them word-vomits the question, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” More often than not, I’m that guy on the boat.
When I moved out to Redding a few years ago, I was in search of peace — I was tormented with anxiety. I knew what I was feeling had less to do with a chemical imbalance and more to do with the belief system I’d built my life around. At the time, I’d just lost a close friend in a plane crash. I needed things to make sense, and they didn’t make sense. I was the frantic disciple, overwhelmed by my circumstances and putting the nature of God on trial.
When we encounter circumstances that stretch beyond our understanding it’s easy to question the goodness of God. Anxiety often comes into play when we attempt to circumvent trust. We opt for controlling our circumstances because clinging to control feels so much easier than giving way to trust. The truth is, we can’t have peace and also live with a preconceived idea of what everything should look like. As much as we’d like it to be, peace is not in the outcome. Peace is a Person. Trusting the Prince of Peace is an invitation to not have to know everything.
His nature was never intended to be a variable in the equation we use to logic our way to answers.
While it’s normal to look for peace inside of understanding, if peace is dependent on our interpretation of circumstances, then peace will always waiver— we will always be environmentally sensitive. He’s invited us into something better. Bill Johnson said it so well: “If you want to have peace that passes understanding, you have to give up your right to understand everything.”
Trust is activated when we make ourselves vulnerable to who He says He is, beyond reason. That vulnerability could also be described as childlikeness: belief without the prerequisite of proof. It’s the key to inheriting the Kingdom. He left us the Comforter, the implication being that we’ll encounter circumstances in which we’ll need comforting. Once we’ve given up our idea of what everything should look like, we are free to live under the assumption that the Prince of Peace is intimately involved in everything that concerns us— with or without immediate evidence.
He’s Emmanuel, and that means every mystery is an invitation to discovery; every unanswered question is just some form of goodness not yet in full view.
Regardless of what chaos we encounter, His nearness is guaranteed. He’s on the boat. May we be the ones who embrace mystery over certainty; may we be marked by trust.