Find a quiet place, put your earphones in, and pull out a pen and paper. Ensure you won’t be interrupted or distracted for the next few moments.
Take a few deep breaths before beginning, and allow your body to be at ease. Recognize that the Lord is with you. Give thanks that he is near.
We live in a unique cultural moment of global chaos and fear. Take a moment to be honest with yourself.
- Am I afraid?
- Can I name what I’m fearful of at this time?
- How is my fear manifesting itself in my life right now?
- How is fear directing my thoughts?
- What does fear feel like?
- How is fear impacting the way I relate to those close to me?
Take a few more deep breaths. Hear the Lord’s invitation to be still. To rest your soul in his loving presence. Not to run from your fears and grief, but rather to bring them to him. Let him prepare a table for you and him to meet together, even in the presence of your enemies.
When you are ready, listen to his invitation as Salt of the Sound sings the hymn Be Still, my soul.*
Be still, my soul, the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below
Be still, my soul, the Lord is on your side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul, the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored
Be still, my soul, when change and fears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last
Be still, my soul. the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below
Read the following passage slowly. Let the words wash over you as you lean in to hear Jesus speak. If appropriate, read it out loud, or have someone read it to you.
Mark 4:35-41 (ESV)
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Sit with the passage for a moment before moving on. Allow the Holy Spirit to draw your attention to words or phrases.
Here are a few reflection questions to ask yourself slowly. Don’t rush to the next question before truly pondering the first. Take the time to think on each question and perhaps even slow down enough to write the answers in a journal.
- Imagine yourself in the boat as the waves begin to break into the boat. Where are you in the boat? What are you doing? How are you feeling? (If you struggle to imagine, feel free to identify which character you are in Rembrant’s painting above.)
- Go to where Jesus is sleeping in the boat. Grab hold of him. What do you want to say to him?
- Imagine Jesus speaking to the sea and the storm. What is his tone and volume of voice as he says, “Peace! Be still!” What is his posture? What is going through your mind and heart as you hear his words? As you witness their impact?
- Imagine yourself in the boat with Jesus after he has calmed the storm. Where are you in the boat? What are you doing? How are you feeling?
- Now invite Jesus into the storm of your life at the moment. What do you want to tell him? What does he say to you?
- If you have more time, read through the following four questions and choose one or more of them with which to spend more time.
- Take a moment to reflect on Jesus’ invitation to go with him on a stormy journey to the other side. Is there something you need to leave behind in order to go on that journey with him today?
- What would Jesus need to do in your life right now, to move you from panic to awe? Ask him to do that now.
- Like the disciples, we tend towards faithlessness. Jesus acts in spite of our lack of faith. Spend some time giving thanks that Jesus has been faithful for us.
- Take a moment to consider the other boats on the sea that went with them, those who did not have Jesus’ presence with them in the same way. Pray for those in your life who are in that position.
Read the passage through one more time.
Pay attention to how it lands on you this time. Has something changed? Was something reinforced?
Listen to the song again, and sit in awe of the One who is with you in the boat.
Written by the Spiritual Care and Development Team.
*”Be Still, My Soul” was written by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel, likely a Lutheran nun, nearly 300 years ago in Germany. About 100 years ago David Evans, a Welsh choirmaster, combined her lyrics with the melody of Finlandia, Op. 26, by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), and it became the beautiful hymn “Be Still, My Soul.”