Monday, June 10, 2013

He neither Slumbers nor Sleeps

He who keeps you will not slumber . . . (Psalm 121:3).

The things that matter most to you matter to Jesus.

Let that sink in for a moment as you begin this day. Remind yourself of this as the day unfolds. What you care about, Jesus cares about. Every concern is noted, every restless thought registered. There is not a detail of your life today that escapes the notice of the living Christ.

And yet, while Jesus stands with us in our storms, but he doesn’t share our fear. Whatever it is that keeps us up at night doesn’t have God pacing the heavens, wringing hands that formed the earth and sky and sea.

Psalm 121 tells us that “the God who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalm 121:4). The same can be said of your life. In this Psalm of eight verses, God is spoken of eight times as a guardian or one who guards. God watches over your life with a constant vigilance. This confident Psalm will be the focus of our attention this week.

God may never slumber or sleep, but sometimes we wonder. There is a story in Mark 4 where Jesus – the word-made-flesh – took a nap. He dozed off just as the threat of a storm was approaching. The disciples couldn’t understand this. How can he be sleeping? Doesn’t he care?

We don’t understand it either. Their questions are our questions. Jesus may be present, but that doesn’t mean much if he isn’t paying attention to what’s happening.

If every good story has some element of tension, Mark creates this by highlighting the contrast between the fearful disciples and the sleeping Jesus. Waves are slapping the boat, pounding with a spray that stings; curling up high and spilling into the craft.

So many details are left out. What did they do to help themselves? No doubt, they did what they could to manage the situation. Maybe they bailed water or pulled at the riggings. We do this kind of thing in our storms. “Why bother Jesus with this?” But as our anxieties escalate the sleeping figure of the Christ eventually begins to bother us, even anger us. We reach a point of exasperation where we cry out, “do you not care that we are perishing?” Ever prayed a prayer like that?

But here’s the gospel – good news! Jesus does now what he did then. Just as he spoke peace to the elements of nature, he can speak peace today to broken hearts and fractured homes and war-torn nations. We are sometimes tempted to despair because it seems that Jesus is sleeping, out of touch. He isn’t. We see and feel a threat. Jesus does not. We see catastrophe. Jesus speaks command. We’re eaten up with anxieties. Jesus exudes peace. And he brings that peace to bear on the storm itself.

Our reflections this week will be aimed at putting some steel in your faith. Our God is ever vigilant. He will not let your foot slip. So what is it that robs you of peace today? Whatever it is, Jesus has it firmly in hand. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he who watches over you “neither slumbers nor sleeps.”

Merciful God, at times the storms overwhelm me. The storms seem powerful and active, while you seem distant and sleepy. Remind me today that you command the elements of every storm. Give me a fresh vision of your power, and with it grant peace through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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