(This week and occasionally in the future, the column will be a few unrelated thoughts and observations taken from my notebook files, rather than a systematically developed essay.)
1. (See Mark 4:35-41, Jesus asleep in the boat.) When we are in the midst of a life-threatening storm, do we believe that Jesus is in the boat with us, and that even if he seems asleep, He will not let us perish? The implication of Jesus’ reproof to the disciples is that they lacked the basic trust that “the wrath of the storm-tossed sea” could never “swallow the ship where lies the Master of ocean and earth and skies” (“Master, the Tempest Is Raging,” by Mary A. Baker). So when we feel compelled to wake the Master so that He can save us, He calmly says—not first to the storm, but to us—“Peace, be still.”
2. (See Phil. 1:6: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”) One of my devotional readings brought out a fresh application of this verse: God not only promises us He will complete His work in us, but He sees us as already made perfect in Jesus. He doesn’t just see the potential in us, He sees us as we will be when He has completed His work to bring us to perfection. How comforting to know!
3. I’ve often wondered why, in Ps. 131:2, the image of calmness is of a “weaned child,” not a nursing one, which intuitively seems to be more appropriate. This morning, I realized that the weaned child no longer merely receives physical comfort from the mother, but values his closeness to her because he knows she is there for him in ways that go beyond his immediate gratification and are rooted in trust and reciprocal companionship. As the writer of Hebrews says (Heb. 5:11-14), God wants us to advance spiritually from mere milk-drinking to eating solid food. So as “weaned” children of God, we can have calmness of soul as we launch out beyond the milk-drinking stage in our relationship with our Father/Mother God. He Who has brought us to birth and tenderly nursed us is still there to protect us as we go through the trials of growing up.
4. One of the results of the Fall was that for humankind, God’s Power became separated from His Essence. That is, though God in His Power still maintained fallen mankind, it became impossible for humans in their impurity to be in God’s Perfect Presence (His uncloaked Glory and Holiness). At that point, God chose, in His mercy and love, to exercise His Power outside of and beyond humanity’s flawed nature to begin the long process of reconciliation—enabling mankind to come into God’s Presence in a mediated way on earth (e.g., the Most Holy Place in the Temple or Tabernacle for the Jews; God’s House, the Church, for Christians), so that ultimately God’s people can dwell eternally in the unmediated Absolute Light of His Presence (Rev. 21:22-26). In the New Jerusalem, God’s Glorious Presence is, like physical light, the pure, irreducible energy of His Power. There, God’s people will experience the re-integration of His Power and His Essential Presence.
Image:"Backhuysen, Ludolf - Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee - 1695" by Ludolf Bakhuizen - . Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Backhuysen,_Ludolf_-_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee_-_1695.jpg#/media/File:Backhuysen,_Ludolf_-_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee_-_1695.jpg