It’s normal to forget things. It’s human to forget things. The human brain can only retain so much—everything else is washed away.
When I think about memory and retention I’m always reminded of a particular Far Side cartoon.
The other day my wife told me a small detail about her love for a certain kind of ice cream: why she liked it and why another kind of ice cream simply wouldn’t do.
When I was next at the store buying ice cream, what she told me came to mind and actually influenced my purchasing decision. Later when she asked if we had ice cream I said, “Yes, but I didn’t get such-and-such because you told me that your preference was….”
She nearly collapsed right there. She was stunned that I remembered that small detail (’cause let’s face it, I forget a lot of more important ones!). But c’mon—WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ICE CREAM!!!
And that brings us to the word of the day: STORMS
Here’s the Bible passage:
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
I bet the disciples were OUT OF THEIR MINDS terrified. In the Ancient Near East they believed raging seas were the activity of the gods and demons. The storm isn’t just a nautical problem they face—it represents high powers at work coming against them.
But Jesus asleep isn’t just about him being tired. Jesus’s sleep is an image of His complete trust in God’s care and provision. The psalmist writes:
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Jesus’s confidence in the power of God is SO complete that he can lie down and sleep even in the middle of a raging (demonic?) sea. Not so the disciples. So in their panic they wake the rabbi. And Jesus goes to work handling the spiritual turmoil. Remember that I mentioned that raging seas were seen as demonic activity? Interestingly, Jesus’s rebuke of the wind and waves uses the same language he uses to subdue the unclean spirits he exorcises! Jesus exorcises nature—there is no power in the physical world or the spiritual world that is greater than the power of God.
Does God seem asleep in the middle of our chaos? Do we react rudely and demand, “Don’t you care?!?” But the disciples should have known better. Psalm 65:6-8 declares:
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;
the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples,
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
But the disciples don’t think this way. In fact, they seem to have forgotten everything Jesus has done up to this point. Exorcisms, healing the sick, raising the dead! But memory is a funny thing. What you think you’d remember, sometimes vanishes. A psychologist named Ebbinghaus did a detailed study on memory and forgetfulness. Here’s what he came up with…
– Most of what we experience is forgotten within the first 60 minutes. After a full 24 hours, we only retain 33%.
– After a week, we’re down to 25%.
– You can fight forgetfulness by practicing recall—work on pulling something to memory throughout the day and throughout the week…
Still—you would THINK the disciples would retain a LITTLE bit more. Even today we tend to forget what God has done in the past. And remembering what God has done in the past helps instill hope for tomorrow. Recognizing Jesus should lead us to desperately pursue him. The disciples had that part right. But in their fear they had forgotten the power of God at work in Jesus. The time will come when we all get hit by storms. The “American Dream” used to be about securing stability and defining life by possessions. The problem is that it’s an empty promise—a false dream. Even those who have “arrived” still face the same problems the rest of us face. We all get sick. We all get hit with storms.
In the middle of the storm, when night is darkest and you’re being battered, the real presence of Jesus can calm the wind, instill courage, and reduce fear.
We’re going to have some reflection and response time. Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.
Our first song is called You Never Let Go. It’s all about the fact that, no matter what we go through, God never lets go of us. The songwriter says:
Oh, no, you never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh, no, you never let go
In every high and every low
Oh, no, you never let go
Lord, you never let go of me
Through the storms, he is there.
Our second song is Still. The song declares,
Father, you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God
– What storms am I facing right now?
– Have I been living in fear and terror or resting in the peace from knowing the power of God?
– Can I ask Jesus to rescue me from the storms I face?
MAKING IT REAL:
– This week, write out your “storms” in life.
– Start praying every day that God would give you peace so that you can lie down in safety.
– At the end of the week share your God moments with us here on the site or on our page at Facebook.
– If you’ve never come to the place in your life where you have decided to be a follower of Jesus and want to know more, please shoot us a message and we’ll be glad to talk to you about what it means to be a follower!
ThM recommends reading:
In the Middle of the Storm and Storm Riders
- An Advent Devotion: I Want to Be Happy — Joy - December 16, 2022
- An Advent Sunday Devotion: Fakers, Breakers, and Makers — Peace - December 11, 2022
- An Advent Devotion: What’s Love Got to Do With It? - December 3, 2022