Procuring the Presence

Key Text: Mark 4:38

{Put yourself in the story…}

The disciples head out across the lake, Jesus resting peacefully in the back of the boat. The evening had been calm and pleasant, and quiet rested upon the lake; but suddenly darkness overspread the sky, the wind swept wildly down the mountain gorges along the eastern shore, and a fierce tempest burst upon the lake.

The sun had set, and the blackness of night settled down upon the stormy sea. The waves, lashed into fury by the howling winds, dashed fiercely over the disciples’ boat, and threatened to engulf it.

Those hardy fishermen had spent their lives upon the lake, and had guided their craft safely through many a storm; but now their strength and skill was useless. They were helpless in the grasp of the storm, and hope failed them as they saw that their boat was filling.

Absorbed in their efforts to save themselves, they had forgotten that Jesus was on board. Now, seeing their labor vain and only death before them, they remembered at whose command they had set out to cross the sea in the first place. In Jesus was their only hope. In their helplessness and despair they cried, “Master, Master!” But the dense darkness hid Him from their sight. Their voices were drowned by the roaring of the tempest, and there was no reply. Doubt and fear assailed them. Had Jesus forsaken them?

Again they call, but there is no answer except the shrieking of the angry blast. Already their boat is sinking. A moment, and apparently they will be swallowed up by the hungry waters.

Suddenly a flash of lightning pierces the darkness, and they see Jesus lying asleep, undisturbed by the tumult. In amazement and despair they exclaim, “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?”

Their cry arouses Jesus.

Jesus rises. He stands in the midst of His disciples, while the tempest rages, the waves break over them, and the lightning illuminates His countenance. He lifts His hand and says to the angry sea, “Peace, be still.”

The storm ceases. The billows sink to rest. The clouds roll away, and the stars shine forth. The boat rests upon a quiet sea. Then turning to His disciples, Jesus asks sorrowfully, “Why are ye fearful? have ye not yet faith?” Mark 4:40, R.V.

A hush fell upon the disciples. Even Peter did not attempt to express the awe that filled his heart. The boats that had set out to accompany Jesus had been in the same peril with that of the disciples. Terror and despair had seized their occupants; but the command of Jesus brought quiet to the scene of tumult. The fury of the storm had driven the boats into close proximity, and all on board beheld the miracle. In the calm that followed, fear was forgotten. The people whispered among themselves, “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Wow! What an experience! Just look at what happened to and for the disciples because of having access to the presence of God!

What can we learn from the experience of the disciples on the Precipitous Pond? How can we learn to bring Perfect Peace to the Press of Pandemonium? I want to know how to Procure the Presence of Providence for my Plethora of Personal Problems, both Puny and Ponderous!

There are four things I would like to notice together in this story; four Points on the Path to Procuring the Presence.


In their efforts to save themselves, the disciples forgot Jesus; and it was only when, in despair of self-dependence, they turned to Him that He could give them help.
How often the disciples’ experience is ours!

The skies are clear and the seas of life calm; it seems like it is in the good times that we build up a self deception of self-sufficiency, we look away from God and forget about him “Look God, I’m doing it all by myself” we seem to say. But then, in the midst of good times a sudden storm arises, the tempests of temptation gather, and the fierce lightings flash, and the waves sweep over us. Being no strangers to storms of temptation and knowing just what one is 'supposed to do' we battle with the storm alone, forgetting that there is One who can help us.

“I can handle this” we think to ourselves, “I know just what to do in this situation” “I can beat the storm, those waves of sin won't win” “I can still bail fast enough, row hard enough, steer skillfully enough, I can resist hard enough, I can stop anytime I choose, It’s not really that bad anyway, other people are worse than I am, there's still time to change….”

We trust to our own strength till our hope is lost, and we are ready to perish. We let conditions get so bad that even we can’t keep telling ourselves everything is okay. We wait until our last resort is gone over the horizon. Then we remember Jesus.
How much trouble and heartache could we save if we just learned to Pause in the Presence to remind ourselves who’s who and what’s what; to stop trying so hard to save ourselves, do it all ourselves; to just Push Pause on the Prolific Pace of life,  and humbly rest in the Peace of Possession of Providential Power.


The disciples were at a complete loss until it was the violence of the storm itself that gave them their glimpse of the Savior and they Perceived Him resting Peacefully….
How often we too allow the Press of life to make us lose sight of Him. Then, when we finally Pause and realize we need Him desperately, we find that we aren’t really sure where He is…. When you started out on this journey He was in the boat with you; you cry out for him, but only the screech of the lifestorm answers back; your prayers seem to barely reach the ceiling; in the midst of the darkness you can't see Him anymore. Doubt and fear cloud your mind: “where is he in the middle of all of this?” “Doesn't he care that I'm in trouble here?” “Have my mistakes finally caused Him to abandon me to my fate at the hands of the storm?”

We start to search for Him in "Godly places": we go to church, we make a Pilgrimage, we Proffer Promises, we try to dust ourselves off and climb some imaginary Pinnacle of holiness so we can reach the guru at the top, we Pray Poetic Prayers and we seek out Pithy Proverbs Posted to facebook.

I am reminded of a Prophet of old who was discouraged and running from a death threat…(Elijah) He also vainly sought out God in all the Prominent Phenomena.

But our Passage Proclaims that the Presence was not on the Pinnacle of the mount, not in the Precincts of the Temple, nor in a Palace of holiness; the Presence was in the Pitching of the boat along with the People and their Problems!

In Psalm 23, where is Shepherd before leading sheep to still waters? He must necessarily have been there in the chaos to lead the sheep out of it!

If we want to Perceive the Presence which Precedes Peace, we have to stop Pretending that God is somehow disconnected from our situation! We have to get Past the idea that we have to transcend our difficulties before we can access the Power of Providence! We must allow a heart of simple childlike faith lead us to Perceive the Presence of God Himself right in the midst of whatever Position we find ourselves in! Then we may fall Prostrate before Him and…Pursue


Once the disciples finally Perceived Jesus asleep in the back of their doomed boat, they Pursued His intervention with single-minded Passion. “Lord save us!  Lord save us! We are Perishing!” they cried out. As he seemed not to answer, they cried out again.

Jesus tells a Parable of someone Pleading with a magistrate to dispense justice, and yet another of a neighbor Pleading for provisions at the house next door. These stories echo the experience of the disciples and reinforce the Point: the need for earnest Pursuit of Providence is not because Providence is far away, unwilling, unhearing, or unable; the need for earnest Pursuit is so we learn to abandon our “other options” and single-mindedly acknowledge God as the only answer. The Pursuit causes us to turn our backs to the oars of self-sufficiency and Plead “Lord save me!”


As the winds ceased and the waters calmed; a great awe and reverent fear settled over the group as they asked among themselves: “Who can this be, that even the winds and sea obey him?”

It is all too easy to discount the activity of God in our lives. It is too easy to ascribe his blessings to chance, to naturalistic inevitability, to coincidence, or even to our own Pitiful Prowess. It is a little harder to ignore when it is a whizz-bang flash from the blue kind of thing; but the Presence of Providence working in your mundane daily life deserves no less awe-struck Pondering than does the calming of the stormy sea.

We need to take the time to talk among each other of the glimpses of Power we have experienced. We need to remind ourselves just what these things mean; how they speak of God’s character and might; how they affirm God promises; how they inspire us for the future. We need to “count our blessings”. We need to Ponder the Presence of Providence wherever we see it in our life or in the life of someone else. Write them down somewhere if you need to; call a brother or sister and enthuse to them when something positive happens. Ponder the Presence often.

You do not need a lifestorm to take you down this Path to Procure the Presence of Providence. You don’t have to wait until you’ve nearly Perished. You can Pause, Perceive, Pursue, and Ponder the Presence in your life every day; good times and bad. It is my prayer that as we develop this habit, we may each develop a constant sense of the Presence of God in our life, that no storm can shake it. Won't you commit to take some time to Procure the Presence of Providence in your life?


35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Mk 4:35–41, The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).