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  • Writer's pictureKendall Ellis

When Restlessness is a Lack of Trust

This is a sermon preview for the third week of our “Downtime: Entering God’s Rest” series. 

Visit FBCM’s Church Center Channel to view video live stream (live) or audio version of sermon (published week after).

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

-Excerpt from Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)

I used to get my best night’s sleep when a thunderstorm would roll in. There’s just something about the smell of the air as the cold front comes, the relaxing calm before the storm, and the soothing sound of rain hitting the roof. Thunderstorms are the OG sound machine, and I’ve been known to sleep so deeply in a storm that my mom had to come wake me up if tornado sirens ever went off.

Apparently Jesus could sleep through quite the storm, too! But the disciples were less than impressed that Jesus was a hard sleeper. Who can sleep at a time like this?! Doesn’t God care if we drown?! If God does care, this Jesus sure has a funny way of showing it.

During the storms of life–when it feels like our lives are on the line–how can we possibly enter into God’s rest?  

And to the disciples' credit, Mark 4 is not a restful moment! Carnival certainly wouldn’t be advertising a cruise in this kind of weather!

Admittedly, I’ve never sailed a boat myself. But I know just enough to realize that it takes a lot of effort to keep boats afloat in storms. You have to turn the sails and oars a certain way to counteract the wind. You have to monitor the amount of water coming aboard, both from the rain and the waves. It’s an all hands on deck moment.

And what’s fascinating about this story is that several of Jesus’ disciples are fishermen. They aren’t sailing novices like me. These men are strong and have sailed in all sorts of weather before. Maybe they even thought that they’d seen it all by this point in their careers.

But there must’ve been something different about this particular storm. This particular storm must’ve been rougher, with winds that were too unpredictable and waves higher than they knew were possible. Whatever it was about this storm, it was too much for even these professional fishermen to face. 

Whether you own a boat or not, we can all relate to the disciples. One minute we think we have a pretty good handle on this life thing. Then the next minute another storm blows in out of nowhere, almost with vengeance. When storms are rocking us here, there, and everywhere: how can we possibly enter into God’s rest? 

Jesus, tell us your secret!?

Well, he does. But we might not like the answer…It's one of those answers that feels a little mean and overly simplistic. But Jesus means it as a gracious invitation to quite our restlessness on board.

After being woken up from his nap and casually commanding the waves and wind to be still, Jesus asks his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

In other words: dudes! I got you! You just need to trust me.

Jesus calmed the storm because he wanted to remind the disciples that he is God and that God takes care of them. But the reality is, Jesus didn’t even need to calm the storm to show the disciples that he cared about them. Jesus was with the disciples the entire time during the storm. Jesus could be the disciples’ peace during the storm because he was in control while it raged just as much as he was when he ended it.

All the disciples had to do was trust that as long as Jesus was there, the storm was irrelevant. All the disciples had to do was trust that God was protecting them. All the disciples had to do was trust that God knew more about this storm than they did.

Similarly, we enter God’s rest by trusting God during our storm. God has promised never to leave or forsake us. So whatever storm you’re in, you can count on Jesus being right there with you in it. But Jesus isn’t panicked. Jesus isn’t surprised. He’s so relaxed in this storm that his human nature could take a nap because that storm’s got nothing on our God!

Reflection Questions

  1. What’s the wildest and weirdest part of Mark 4:35-41 that sticks out to you? What do you think God is trying to tell you in that part?

  2. Are you someone who trusts easily or tends to require someone to earn your trust? How does that affect your ability to trust God during life’s storms?

  3. What do you think it looks like to sabbath–to rest–during hard seasons in life? How is the Holy Spirit empowering you to live that way? 


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