Wake Up, Lord! We Are Perishing! – Is God Asleep at The Wheel?

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Jesus Calms the Storm

Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee23. Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26. 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.

27. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

  • He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me. – Psalm 18:19
  • Therefore mortals fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit. – Job 37:24
  • And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. – Matthew 8:26

God Fell Asleep At The Wheel

Matthew 8

24. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.
25. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

One of the greatest fears a theist can have is the notion of an aloof, uncaring, or impotent God. We have come so far as to even have faith in the Almighty, so it is a scary proposition in the face of tremendous adversity or injustice when someone plants the idea of , “where is your God now“?

Just like in our Gospel passage today, in which we find the disciples of Jesus are terrified as their boat is seemingly about to be capsized in violent storm and their Savior is literally “asleep at the wheel”. Deep within us the thought terrifies us: God either doesn’t care, or doesn’t know something is happening!

To which some will reply, “God will act if God needs to act.”

This statement is chilling in it’s inevitable conclusion to victims of violence, genocide, or tragedy: God must not think this was worth “acting” over. God doesn’t care about us.

For the victims of 9/11, Katrina, the tsunami in Japan, the drought in Somalia, and other mind-numbing tragedies, it must be inevitable that we begin to question whether God is even there amidst all this strife, heartache, and death.

This very heartache for proof of God in times of trial is exactly what has led some biblical writers, prophets, and teachers to proclaim that God has abandoned God’s people at various times throughout history. Or even worse, that “God is dead.”

The Hand of God, The Hand of Satan

The problem with this entire mindset is we think that the stories of metaphor and symbol contained within the bible are literally true. We expect God to act and save us, just as God did on the stormy sea, just as God did when the Hebrews were rescued from the pursuing Pharaoh, just as God did when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not burn in the furnace of the Babylonians.

God rescues the righteous!… right?

No. God doesn’t always rescue the righteous because we misunderstand how God acts. God acts through us.

We are the only way God acts in this world to intervene in the lives of others. This is the horrible reality of our true power as God’s Children:

  • When we care God cares.
  • When we love God loves.
  • When we kill God kills.
  • When we are apathetic God is apathetic.
  • When we create God creates.
  • When we destroy God destroys.

We can either do tremendous good or tremendous evil everyday.

Do you see? Do you hear?

God never fell asleep at the wheel. God isn’t uncaring or impotent.

That’s exactly what Jesus wanted us to see so badly: if we only could have faith that we are loved and saved, and act AS GOD in this world without fear, then we would realize that God is always with us.

  • When we are scared God is with us.
  • When we are alone God is with us.
  • When we are persecuted God is with us.
  • When we are facing death God is with us.

Where is God?

If we are the hands of God, and of God is always with us, then when we kill each other, we are crucifying Christ all over again.

To drive this point home, I turn to a stunning example of this very experience, starkly illustrated by Elie Wiesel in his memoir, “Night” about his time spent as a youth suffering in Nazi concentration camps.

An excerpt from “Night” by Elie Wiesel:

One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us, machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains— and one of them, the little servant, the sad-eyed angel.

The SS seemed more preoccupied, more disturbed than usual. To hang a young boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips. The gallows threw its shadow over him.

This time the Lagerkapo refused to act as executioner. Three SS replaced him.

The three victims mounted together onto the chairs.

The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses.

“Long live liberty!” cried the two adults.

But the child was silent.

“Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked.

At a sign from the head of the camp, the three chairs tipped over.

Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting.

“Bare your heads!” yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping.

“Cover your heads!”

Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged. But the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…

For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was red, his eyes were not yet glazed.

Behind me, I heard the same man asking:

“Where is God now?”

And I heard a voice within me answer him:

“Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows…”(emphasis added)

“Wake up! We are perishing!”

Wake up, my brothers and sisters. Awaken to your mighty power to act as good or evil in this world, and God will awaken with us.

Wake up and save us; we are perishing!

The storm is wild and the seas are high. Can you finally see you have the power to save us?

Can I?

 

 

Trig Bundgaard About Trig Bundgaard

Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your feedback, thoughts and ideas about what I've written. Especially if it's contrary to my views!

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Romans 5
"18. Therefore just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.
19. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

Comments

  1. I have this struggle, of where is God in the face of pain. I also think that we are to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world and it makes a big difference when people step up to the task (see Mother Teresa). But there are things that are beyond our control and I struggle with it because of what we have heard/been taught about God and prayer and divine intervention. I think we don’t understand or practice prayer right. I have heard people at a church claim that God answered prayers for parking spots, traffic lights, baseball tickets, you name it. But I witnessed that same, entire church corporately beg God for a man’s life… and he died.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Gina.

      We like to keep God outside of Creation, instead of recognizing the divine within all Creation.

      I tend to think God was in the hands of the medical personnel that worked to save that man’s life, and in the hands that held and consoled the grieved after he died.

  2. Exactly.

    Thank you.

  3. I’ve loved this Gospel story since I was a kid, although over the years it’s take on several different meanings. The most recent interpretation I’ve heard is, to paraphrase, in the storms of life sometimes WE think God is asleep. (But since He’s soveriegn He’s still in control). So we try to take matters into our own hands. Until the seas get too rough. And we realized we NEED to ASK God for help. (Different than Peter’s pleading to be SAVED in last weeks devotion.) “Pride comes before a fall,” and in my opinion before a storm too. We’ve all heard the saying, “God helps those who help themselves,” but I think it’s more like “God helps those who realize they are helpless on there own and need to cooperate with Him.” It’s a liberating thought. And God WANTS us to ask him for help. God is waiting. Are we ready to let go of our pride and ask Him for help? When we do, the storm will calm.

    @Gina – a friend of mine recently said of prayer:

    “In the many books I’ve read and sermons I’ve heard over the years, this view of prayer has been presented as the most sophisticated and proper. After all, God is sovereign and omniscient; He is outside of time; He already knows every single event of our lives—past, present, and future. It would be futile for us to beg God to do one thing when He’s already ordained that something else is going to happen in our lives.

    Instead of using prayer in a greedy fashion, asking God for the stuff we desire, we should use prayer to help us joyfully accept whatever it is we’re going to get or not get anyway. In other words, prayer is not a way to change God’s mind, it is a way to change OUR minds.

    So, according to this view of prayer, if we or a loved one became very sick, we should not pray for a miraculous healing. We should pray that God will help us accept what’s destined to happen anyway.

    As I mentioned, this understanding of prayer has been presented to me by many knowledgeable and faithful Christian teachers as mature and sophisticated. And I suppose it is in many instances. Certainly we’d all be a lot better off if our selfish will was more conformed to God’s will; if our minds were changed to be more like God’s mind.”

    A book comes to mind (See The Forum)- “The Five Things We Cannot Change (and the happiness we find embracing them) by David Richo. This book saved my spiritual life and my prayer life. Blessings.

    -Rob E

  4. I recently heard another interpretation of the story in Matthew 8:23-27.

    Jesus was asleep during this storm not because he didn’t care but because he had no fear. His faith was so strong that he did not fear the wind and waves. His faith was not only in God, but also in the disciples in the boat. They were, after all, fisherman. They had spent their entire lives fishing upon those waters. Maybe, by being in the presence of Jesus day in and day out, they forgot their past experiences and lost faith in their own skills as boat handlers. But Jesus didn’t. He knew their abilities so well that he was able to fall asleep. The disciples forgot that Jesus was right there in the boat with them, facing the same risks. It is the same today. Jesus is right here with us, facing the same risks, the same fears, the same happiness and the same tears as we are.
    Finding strength in God means to be aware of our own abilities at all times. We need to be strong enough in our own faith so that we can act on our own abilities while at the same time knowing that God is always standing next to us (or in front of us) to guide us, so long as we listen and trust in Him.
    As we grow stronger in our faith, I also believe that God steps back and let’s us do it more on our own. The only way to grow is to be challenged. But no matter how distant God feels, He is always with us, ready to step in when we need Him.

  5. It is amazing that God would choose to use each of us for each of us. No wonder Jesus said when you see the least of these, you see him. Jesus is US–We are Jesus–The servant is no greater than the master he even said. We all are ONE–We need each other, and may we be the good Samaritan to our neighbors…and who is our neighbor?…The one that everybody else most likely turns their nose up at is our neighbor—-the least among us and even the so-called greatest among us…But again Jesus said the master is no greater than the servant—I truly get that now..

    So true! So true!

    God rescues us through our neighbors—May we figure out that if the world is going to become a better place WE have to become better–It all starts with us being that change in the world …………..for the better.

    But, if you think God is angry at us..pouring his wrath upon us even now..( not to mention in the after-life–WOW, I’d rather not even die if I believed I had a chance for Eternal Torment after death—-I want to live forever then, because life after this is going to be far worse..SIGH) how can you love someone you don’t even think God loves….aawww..

    Lord, Please remove the veil from our eyes to see who you truly are. Please remove the religious mindsets that are not from you. Please set the captives free so that they might set the captives free….Make us over Lord……Make us over Lord…………..

    Trig,

    I remember years ago spending many, many, many days fasting. I use to fast a lot because I figured this was the one way I could show God how serious I was to get to truly know him and his heart. I use to fast and pray for God to give me his heart, I wanted all of God I could get. I knew there was more than what was being said of him, as a matter of fact it was God who had me in that place of ‘seeking’..deep seeking that went on for years. It is amazing how God answered my prayers BEYOND what I had expected.

    I think if more people truly begin to seek God with all of their hearts in SPIRIT AND TRUTH–and stop trying to have a relationship with a “BOOK”–and seek the God of the “BOOK” he will blow their minds……………He will absolutely blow their minds and socks off..I think a lot of people are afraid of what they might find if they did really pray and ask God for a deeper understanding. One thing is for sure, he will truly make you. “Lose your Religion”…..haaaaaaaaaaa…….A Beautiful Thing.

  6. wow..I really do love to talk. I am looking at how long my post is…….hehe…….

  7. Just had to say, “Thank You” to you for this site and all who share their thoughts, stories, and questions with the rest of us. Wonderful stuff here!

  8. Carol Pettengill says:

    God is not a person.

  9. Could you go one step further and say we manifest either the power of his life in us and through us, or the absence of knowing we are his, ie death rather than good or evil. I’m just thinking of the two laws that Romans 8 talks about. I have to say this post has set up some new thought patterns for me. I have been on the grace trail for the last year, and it gets more and more out there and exciting, the further down it I travel. God just gets gooder and gooder. Thanks for sharing, it’s blessed me.

    • To love God, and to no longer fear death is to truly live. To fear God, to fear death is a false and wasted life, with time spent in joyful love and acts for others stolen by frozen fear and an unwillingness to risk.

      Love sets you free, fear is the road to ruin.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Dee.

  10. Beautifully articulated!!

    Yes, I too believe that God has literally chained His hands and feet to ours. The “God is in control” argument is a very convenient cop-out for people who don’t want to do anything. I jotted down some thoughts on this a while back too:

    http://www.newcovenantgrace.com/is-god-in-control/

    Keep up the good work!!

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