The Francis Asbury Society

Jesus, Wake Up!

By Stan Key

As the January-February 2016 edition of The High Calling (theme: prayer) was being prepared for press, Katy Key, Stan’s wife, suffered a major stroke caused by a blood clot after lung surgery. As she fought for life in the neuro intensive care unit at St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington, KY, Stan wrote this article as a means to help him with his own struggle to understand the mystery of prayer.

A children’s Sunday School chorus came to mind this week as I sat beside Katy’s bed in the neuro ICU:

With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm,
Smile at the storm, smile at the storm,
With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm
As we go sailing home.

Actually, the neuro ICU is a very good place to meditate on the meaning of Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35–41). The gentle beeps and quiet hums of medical technology may create the impression that this is a place of peace and tranquility. Don’t be fooled! No one lands in these beds unless a massive tempest has hit his life and is threatening to drown everyone who happens to be in the boat.

You remember the story. Jesus is in the boat with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee when a terrible storm suddenly descends upon them. No one expected this! Realizing that the boat is sinking and that they are about to drown, the disciples panic: “Master, do something!” The good news is that Jesus is right there in the boat with them. The bad news is that he is fast asleep! I’m not sure whether they shouted in his ears, pulled on his robe, or kicked the pillow out from under his head, but they finally got the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity to wake up. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, the Lord of Creation calmly stood up, assessed the situation, and then simply said to the wind and waves, “Oh, shut up!” Immediately, a profound silence settled over the lake, broken only by the water dripping from the sails and the breathless panting of the disciples. The sea became as smooth as glass, like a mirror. “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” the disciples asked one another.

Sitting in the ICU next to my bandaged, sedated wife, watching in silent agony as she struggles to speak, to breathe, and to open her eyes, I easily identify with Peter and his friends in the boat. Lord, where did this storm come from? I thought if we followed you, we would be protected from things like this. Didn’t you promise us peace and blessing? Don’t get me wrong, I’m so thankful you’re in our boat, and it comforts me to realize that you are experiencing this storm, too! But how can you sleep in a time like this, curled up in the stern with a pillow under your head?! I’m thankful that this crisis poses no problem for you. The peace etched on your sleeping face reassures us that all will be well. But Master, don’t you care about US? YOU may be OK with this storm, but we’re not! Don’t you care that the boat is sinking, and we are about to drown? Jesus, wake up!

This storm experience with Katy has given me a new definition for prayer. Prayer is waking up Jesus. It’s good to have him in the boat riding out the storm with us, but with all due respect, his presence is only part of what we need. Prayer is rousing the Master to get up and do something about the storm! Our Lord is not like Baal who is so deaf his followers have to shout and cut themselves in the hopes of getting his attention (I Kgs 18:25–29). No! The one who keeps Israel never slumbers or sleeps (Ps. 121:3–4). Prayer is a great mystery. Though God knows all about our storm and cares about our crisis, he waits to be roused to action. He wants us to wake him up!

The way Mark tells the story, it seems so simple: terrible storm… prayerful cry… Jesus wakes… all is well. I’m not sure why, but it seldom seems to work that simply for me. The great mystery is not so much if God will answer our prayer but when. The part we never know is how much time is going to elapse between the onset of the storm and when the Master says, “Peace! Be still!” Will the storm last an hour or a year or even a lifetime? This question is seldom answered: “How long, O Lord?” But this we can know for sure: if Jesus is in our boat, and if he is sleeping peacefully in our storm, then all will be well. Though he may appear to be asleep and disconnected with your present crisis, don’t be fooled. He knows what is happening. He sees your hardship. Don’t let the thunder of the storm or the waves of the sea keep you from shaking the Lion of Judah awake. He actually likes to be roused by our prayers. Soon, he’ll get up and make the storm go away! In the meantime, pray without ceasing and try to get some rest, too. If Jesus can sleep in the storm, so can you. In the words of Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

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