Daily Devotional May 26, 2023

“They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along. Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow.” (Mark 4:36-38, CEB)

     In 2004, I was traveling with a group of missionaries back to a local guesthouse in Haiti. As our bus was preparing to turn left onto a side street, a group of young Haitian men pulled alongside. Led by a police car with siren blaring, a caravan of shiny SUV’s laid on their horns. With smoke glass windows rolled half-way down, these thugs displayed their automatic weapons.

     The name the Haitian people give this de facto security force is “chimeres”. Chimeres is the Creole name for monster. They are monsters who ruthlessly and lawlessly rule the streets. Their purpose is to terrorize a beleaguered nation. Their means of oppressing an already oppressed people is to rape, plunder, brutalize, torture, and murder anyone who gets in their way.

     Their actions have led to the unrest and chaos the Republic of Haiti continues to endure. As I came face-to-face with these chimeres, these monsters, I found myself praying on behalf of the Haitian people I have come to love: “When, O Lord? When will you bring peace upon this land?”

     In the fourth chapter of the gospel of Mark, Jesus and his disciples were in a boat on the Lake of Galilee. Without warning, a furious storm swept over them. The disciples frantically pleaded with Jesus to save them from drowning. Meanwhile, Jesus was sleeping peacefully. Jesus stood, rebuked the waves, and suddenly the waters were at peace.

     Early Christians interpreted this story as a metaphor for the present situation in which the church finds itself. The disciples and the boat symbolize the church. The fierce storm raging about them represents the turbulent times in which we are living.

     Some suggest that the true miracle Jesus performed was actually the stilling of the storm within the hearts of his disciples. I believe this explanation only reveals part of the story’s meaning. Water symbolizes chaos, and during the creation of the world God’s Spirit swept across the waters and created peace and order.

     Mark’s point in telling of this miracle was to make the claim that in the person of Jesus, God has come to bring about peace and order to the world, once again. For Mark, Jesus is the One who calms the storms that threaten us inwardly, as well as tempests that endanger us outwardly.

     My trip to Haiti confirmed one thing for me. There is still much chaos in this life. One need not travel 2500 miles to figure that out. The struggle looms both within and all around us.

     But you know where I discovered peace? Real, lasting, down-to-the-depths-of-your-soul serenity? It was in the church. In the midst of the hell I witnessed in the city of Port-au-Prince, I discovered a sense of peace that passes all understanding.

     During a service of worship, the people of Delmas 33 church were holding hands. They were singing praises to God with one voice. The love of Jesus had cast away all fear. People from miles away joined the mighty chorus.

     And so can you. If you are seeking a greater sense of peace, I welcome you to climb into the boat for worship this Sunday. Bring along a friend. You will find rest for your soul. All aboard!