“[Jesus] said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?'”
–Mark 4:40-41, NRSV
This quote is the center of a particularly moving and encouraging moment I experienced today while visiting a local Episcopal Church. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am going back into ministry after some time away. While it feels like “coming home,” I have been feeling quite a bit of apprehension when I consider putting myself back into that line of work.
Over the past week, as I’ve started winding down my time at the gym where I’ve been working, I have been stressing this decision more than I’d care to admit. After all, this is the second career change I have faced in less than a year, and this particular change involves facing my own scars and regrets head on. All that said, I’ve been afraid.
This is where this text comes in.
Mark’s treatment of the disciples is anything but kind. They are the idiots who can’t seem to grasp the identity of Jesus, while almost everyone else appears to be “getting it.” For example, right away in chapter one, an unclean spirit proclaims (in a synagogue full of people), “I know who you are, the Holy One of God” (1:24). Jesus later cleanses a leper, causes a paralyzed man to walk, and even stops a storm using nothing but words. Still, the best his disciples can do is ask who he is.
This depiction, I believe, is a deliberate invitation into the story. Mark seems to be asking his readers, “Here is what they did. Now, what are you going to do?” Sure enough, we all know what it is like to forget the power and love of God, focusing on the tumultuous nature of life. For example, I have been so caught up in the regrets and potential judgments that could crop up in the midst of this big life change, I lost sight of the fact that God is the One who loves and has called me. Christ lives in me, and He will find a way to accomplish His purposes through me.
We all get forget at one time or another, and the purpose of Mark’s text isn’t to make us feel badly about it, as this reaction rarely gets anything done. Instead, the Gospel is here to remind us that God is invested in us. God is invested in me, and He is definitely invested in you. All of us are called to serve in our own particular ways, and if we remember to stay open to that, amazing things will come, even in the midst of life’s hardships. Further, those hardships are put into perspective, so that we are no longer found to be tossed by the waves and still having no faith.
I hope this passage and post offer you some sense of the encouragement I felt because of the Holy Scriptures this morning. Life is difficult and full of obstacles and trials. The risks are high, and no one should deny that. However, if we remember that our identity is not defined by those trials or the negativity of the world around us, but by our membership of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19), we can find peace and be productive for God’s Kingdom in even the most dire of situations.
It is my hope and prayer that you remember your value. Remember that you are God’s beloved child, and that this identity alone equips you for every good work you are to accomplish. Let’s go out into this week ready to change the end of the story. Let us remember exactly who our Savior is, and live as the people we are each called to be.
Peace be with you!