I found an open workbook for school on the table today. One answer had been filled in and the rest abandoned. I went and found the son to whom the workbook belongs, and asked him, “Hey, what’s up with this unfinished page?” He sheepishly replied, “I didn’t know what to do.” We walked back to the table and finished the page together so I could show him how to find his way through this sort of problem next time.
I wondered why he didn’t ask for help. He must have got off to a good start with the first question, gaining a bit of momentum, only to have his heart sink as he read through the rest of the questions – each one more perplexing than the last. I wondered how long he struggled to figure it out, only to come to the conclusion that this particular challenge was too much for him. He could have come to me as soon as he hit the first setback in his lesson, and I would have helped him gladly.
The whole thing reminded me of something my husband said to me last month. He was talking about the end of Mark 4, where Jesus and the disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee in the night and get caught in a storm so bad the boat starts to take on water. Jesus is asleep in the boat and they wake Him up when they’re afraid they might die. Jesus wakes and speaks to the wind and the waves until all is calm. Once the danger has passed, Jesus asks the disciples why they were afraid and had little faith. (Mark 4:35-40)
Archie pointed out that the situation was dire, and anyone would have been afraid in it. So why didn’t the disciples ask for help sooner? Why did they wait until they were seemingly at the point of death? It’s almost as if Jesus was asking the disciples why they chose to struggle against the storm in fear when all along they could have had the faith to ask for help. They chose to try in their own strength and it was only when that strength was spent that they went to Jesus.
I found this to be a very humbling thought. I am exceedingly guilty of trying to do everything in my own strength. The tendency is to wait until I’ve been overwhelmed for a while and everything’s a mess to go to Jesus. Ever since this conversation with Archie I have tried to think of the disciples, and ask Jesus to help at the first sign of a storm.
After all, doesn’t Solomon praise the Shulamite for leaning on her Beloved in Song of Solomon? (S.of S. 8:5) Doesn’t Solomon also admonish his son to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6 NKJV emphasis added) Not only that, but Paul tells us to rejoice in our weakness because the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9 NKJV)
The evidence in the scripture seems to say that there is no shame in asking for help from Jesus. In fact, it seems to be the preferred response in believers to the storms of life. So why wait ‘til I’m spent and ragged in my soul? Why hide my vulnerability from the Man who sits at the right hand of God praying for me (Hebrews 7:25)? Why not have the faith to ask, and believe that He is listening, and know that He will answer me one way or another?
Faith can be a funny thing sometimes. One summer we lived in a house without a basement, and the storms were particularly bad that spring. I was so worried one would develop into a tornado and we would have no basement to shelter in during such a storm. I could see the storms coming from miles away at my kitchen window. So I found myself praying at the first sign of those periwinkle blue storm clouds on the horizon.
I had the faith to pray against those storms. I prayed them down from tornado watch, to severe, to regular old thunderstorm, to a benign drizzle. That tornado siren did not go off once, apart from the monthly test. I had no need of a basement, I had the God of all creation hearing my prayer and working it out on my behalf. In fact, we ended up having a bit of a drought that summer. Everyone’s lawn fried in the sun until they were all a nice kaki color.
Yet, sometimes it’s easy to hesitate when it comes to life’s circumstances. I have to ask myself, why would God listen to me praying about the weather, but not my children? Why would He sustain us in safety through tornado season, but not make a way where there seemed no way in finances? Why did I find myself expecting a stone, when I asked for bread?
I find myself joining with the man who came to Jesus on behalf of his ill child, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23) It was so kind for the gospel writer to include that prayer. To show that we can have belief and ask for it to grow. That it’s ok to pray for more belief.
This prayer shows that it’s ok to lean on Jesus while the faith to lean on Him grows. Until one day something shifts, and I find I’m still leaning on Jesus, except now it’s not an anxious leaning. Now it is a restful leaning. Resting in His love and acceptance. Resting in the knowledge that Jesus wants me there, leaning on Him. He wants me to ask about the storms in my life and the lives of those around me. He wants to pray together.
He wants me to wake him up to calm the storm.