I think most of us are on dual journeys in our lives, both taking place at the same time. I know this holds true for me. Outwardly, I am on a journey trying out this still-new role as a grandfather. So far, this has been one of the best journeys of my life. Inwardly, I am on a personal journey seeking the things of God.
For the past two years, I have been obsessed with the questions of Jesus. The more I ponder them, the more questions I have. So you can see how time-consuming this journey can be.
Children are natural at asking good questions, but somehow, we grow out of that, and life becomes a series of trivial queries: “If nothing sticks to Teflon, how do they get it to stick to the pan?” “Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?” “How does the guy who drives the snowplow get to work?” “Why do they call it a building when it’s already built?” “Why is abbreviation such a long word?” “Why can’t we tickle ourselves?” “Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?” And so on.
I think sometimes we ask the same questions of each other so often that they’re no longer really questions but should be called obligatory introductions instead. “How are you doing?” “What’s up?” “How are the kids?” Questions like these usually get a programmed response.
I am writing 35 days of Bible studies for our student missionaries, and every day we deal with questions. On one of the days, we look at Mark 4:36-41, the story about Jesus stopping the storm. It should be very familiar to you if you grew up in church.
Jesus and the disciples were on a boat, a place where most of them were very comfortable. But sometimes, Jesus will take us to a comfortable place and choose to make it uncomfortable. A storm quickly arose. The waves crashed over the hull, and the ship took on water. Jesus was in the back of the boat sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and asked, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38c).
There is an art to asking a question, but the disciples hadn’t learned it yet. They did go to the right person, though. If anyone could have saved them, it was Jesus. He was their Creator. He could heal the sick and raise the dead; he could certainly calm the storm.
Yes, they came to the right person. But they came for the wrong reason and asked the wrong question. They were asking him about their relationship “… don’t you care …?” But if they had known Who he really was, that thought wouldn’t have even entered their minds.
There is no one, and I mean no one, who cares more for us than Jesus. That’s why he came to Earth. Even when we were at our ugliest, He died for us, bearing the pain and punishment on our behalf.
So they asked the right person the wrong question for the wrong reason. Their focus was on the ship, the storm and themselves, not the Savior. They had a good grasp of the situation, but they didn’t have a true knowledge of Who Jesus was.
We can teach our children knowledge, and they can give all the right answers in a trivia game. But knowledge must be coupled with understanding. Parents who teach their children to ask the right question to the right person for the right reason have taught their children to be wise.
And did you notice? Jesus didn’t even answer their question at first. He looked at the storm and said, “Quiet, be still!” (Mark 4:39b) The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And do you know what Jesus did next? He answered their question with two questions: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40b).
But good questions lead us from knowledge to understanding. Mark finished the story with this: “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” (Mark 4:41). Finally, the disciples had the right understanding of the situation and were asking the right questions at last.
What was Jesus trying to teach them? If you find yourself in a storm, look for Him in the place of fear, because He can take away its presence. You see, “Quiet! Be still!” works on thoughts and emotions as well as it does the wind and waves.