The Universe Is Friendly
Sovereign Lord, lead me to follow You in joyful obedience this day. May Your will be my desire.
Read Luke 8:22-25
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“(The world) exists both now and forever because God loves it” (Julian of Norwich). It’s a simple, wonderful truth.
Katshushika Hokusai’s early nineteenth-century woodblock print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, has become a well-known image. His giant wave of foaming white looms, dwarfing a distant snow-capped Mount Fuji, and two rising Japanese boats, their minuscule crews flinching one final second before inundation. A century later, Monika Liu Ho-Peh of China refers to Hokusai in her Stilling of the Tempest. A Chinese Christ is her focal point, standing left of center on the prow of a boat, face serene, arms cruciform, hands flexed in rebuke, inner and outer tunics billowing in the squall, almost sheltering twelve sailors who grip gunnels, oars, the mast, a rope or one another.
Luke uses Mark’s story of the lake storm, with only slight editing. While Mark makes Jesus his focus throughout, Luke tells the story from the disciples’ viewpoint (22b). For them “things fall apart” and “the center cannot hold” (Yeats) as one of Galilee’s legendary mountain winds whips up a squall (23). In the delirium of their trauma, Luke’s deckhands experience the archetypal terror of stricken seafarers, misnaming their captain, the true source of power in creation (24a) (c.f. Psa. 93:3,4). One word of supreme authority over elements and hidden powers (24b; c.f. 4:35, 39,41) momentarily fills Luke’s lens. Jesus’ question sounds loud and awkward in the sudden stillness of lapping calm (25a) before Luke returns to 12 scared and mystified voices (25b).
Increasing numbers of Christians appear in Internet news photographs, YouTube footage or news programs featuring millions of survivors of mudslides, floods, earthquakes, tornados and wildfires. When our world feels like a teacup in a tempest, Jesus’ question is as challenging as ever (25a).
With what faithful prayers and compassionate efforts will you cry to “wake” the Master, today?
Lord, when the center of my life collapses, may the assurance of Your embracing love hold me firm and true.
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