Wednesday, January 10, 2018

"Jesus Asleep on the Job?"

Matthew 8.23-27 NIV

Then he [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. 

But Jesus was sleeping

The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ 

He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’ ”

A decision to follow Jesus does not come with a safe passage warranty, especially when you follow Him into your boat. Storms happen. They happen to followers of Christ and everyone else. The disciples were in trouble. Jesus was near but inactive. Overcome by slumber, He expected His disciples to weather the storm on their own. The Lord chastised them for waking Him: “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” The tempest was of no concern to Jesus. Followers of Christ must face death alone, without Christ’s direct and obvious intervention.

Sometimes I feel alone. I wish Jesus would miraculously calm the seas of tribulation and guarantee an uneventful journey. Jesus has a different plan. He expects me to trust Him in dark and turbulent times, by myself. Christ is nearby but asleep. And why not? He knows there’s nothing to worry about. Jesus can afford a nap. I’m awake. I’m worried. Apparently, I must find faith and learn to face my own demise with courage.
I read an amazing book by one of the world’s greatest bluesmen: Clapton – The Autobiography. I’ve always admired what Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughn could do with a Fender Stratocaster. They possessed an amazing and rare gift. I’ve listened to a lot of Clapton music (Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominos) and couldn’t wait to get an insider’s look at this man’s life. I found out my musical hero was more than a virtuoso. He was an addict. Clapton seriously abused sex, heroin, and alcohol and nearly ruined his life. In 1982, at the age of 38, Eric finally admitted he had a problem and became willing to enter an alcohol treatment center.

“On the flight over I drank the plane dry, so terrified was I that I might never be able to drink again. This is the most common fear of alcoholics. In the lowest moments of my life, the only reason I didn’t commit suicide was that I knew I wouldn’t be able to drink anymore if I was dead. It was the only thing I thought was worth living for, and the idea that people were about to try and remove me from alcohol was so terrible that I drank and drank and drank, and they had to practically carry me into the clinic.”[1]

Clapton was afraid. Afraid to die and lose what he had come to depend upon. What am I afraid to lose? My income? My habits? My job? My house? My safety? My sex life? My favorite foods? My new IPhone? Why do I cling to this temporal existence as if it had eternal value? So what if the waves wash over me and sink my boat? So what if I drown? Is that all bad? Would I not rather be “absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2nd Corinthians 5.8)? Have I not gained more than I lost? Must I limit myself to “little faith”? Must I be “so afraid”?

I always admired Eric Clapton for his amazing musical ability. I now admire him for his ruthless honesty. His autobiography gives me permission and courage to look more honestly at myself.

[1] Clapton – The Autobiography, Eric Clapton, Broadway Books, 2007, p. 198.

Image at the top right is a 1959 Fender Bassman tube amplifier and Fender Sunburst Stratocaster guitar.


One Sided said...

I have always been comforted by the image of Jesus sleeping. It reinforced the humanity of his walk with us. With his giving nature I laways just assumed that as long as there was a need that HE needed to be filling he would sacrifice sleep. So to have an image of Jesus sleeping soundly in the midst of what frightened his fellow travelers, again lets me know that all is well and there is nothing HE can't hadle if He needs to.

Dave's Bible Blog said...

Amen to that. Thanks for commenting.