A Great Calm

"The Lord is always nearest when He is most needed. This may not always be realized but it is a great truth. He was beside the ship in which His disciples toiled and battled with the storm, unknown and unlooked for, no prayer from them brought Him to them, it was His own affection — they were precious to Him. Prayer arises when He is known to be there, but He is there by His own love. My necessity is the appeal to His love, my trouble leads Him to be beside me in the direst moment, and when I recognize Him in His anxious, tender interest in me, then I receive Him into the ship — into my circumstances; He enters into them Himself — and when He Himself is recognized, He enters into my circumstances with me and the effect is wonderful — THERE IS A GREAT CALM" (J.B.S.)

Consider the circumstances of the incident, so beautifully interpreted by the writer of the above paragraph. Mark 6:46 tells us that the Lord had gone into a mountain to pray. Let that be the first great fact for our contemplation. We may be sure that those disciples had their place in that prayer of His that night. He was an intercessor on their behalf. They were left alone apparently, left alone to face tempestuous seas and rough winds, yet they were not forgotten. He was praying for them and praying for them because He loved them. And has He ceased to be interested in His tried and troubled disciples who seem to be left to face seas of woe alone? No, He is what He ever was, and on the mountain of glory — the right hand of God — He prays for His own, for so says Romans 8, "Who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." It has been said that, "so great is the Lord's love for us, that if it were necessary He would come from heaven and suffer Calvary's woe and death again for us"; and that is true, but it is not necessary, thank God, that He should do that, for "by one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified." But it is necessary that He should live for us and serve us by His intercession, and this He does and will do to the end, He will do it because the love that fills His heart is unchanged, it is the same love that made Him sacrifice Himself for us upon the cross. We must realize more fully this living love, this living service of our Lord for us, for it is necessary for our daily salvation. It is a ceaseless service and effectual; He ever lives to make intercession for us.

Now while His heart and voice went out in prayer for His storm-tossed disciples He did not lose sight of them. Verse 48 tells us that "He saw them toiling in rowing." And as then so now He looks upon His own. He prays and He sees. One He sees upon a bed of pain with no hope of relief while life lasts; another pressed and sorely tried by circumstances that threaten to crush all brightness from the soul and change the songs to continual sighs, another He sees groping and stumbling along a way both bleak and lonely, made bleak and lonely by the breath and hand of death. He sees these and all His saints who suffer and toil, and He lives to make intercession for them and to draw near to them in their troubles and to make them more than conquerors in them.

"He saw them toiling and . . . He comes to them." Their need and His love brought Him there. They would have seen Him long before they did had they not been so bent upon their own efforts to bring their boat to port; but when their sailor-skill was baffled and their strength was done, He was there, when they dropped their oars and ceased the struggle, He was there — there to enter their ship — to come into their circumstances and bring His own peace with Him and share it with them; to steer them into a great calm. It is even so today. His love brings Him swiftly to our relief, not always to change the circumstances, some of them cannot be changed, but to change us, to calm us by His own presence, and to make us more than conquerors by His love. Yet many suffering saints miss all this, and why? Because they will continue to toil in rowing; they will persist in meeting their trials in their own strength; so bent are they on the endeavour to straighten out their tangles and steer their own frail vessel through the stormy seas that they do not see Him coming to them, walking on the water — the Master of its fiercest waves. But their extremity is His opportunity, and when they have no might He becomes their strength, and a sense of His nearness changes all.

"He came to His disciples, saying, BE OF GOOD CHEER: IT IS I; BE NOT AFRAID," And that was enough for them; it is enough for us. Our great Intercessor prays for us, sees us, comes to us, and in the sense of this we can be more than conquerors through Him, and that because we know that nothing can separate us from His love — neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword. These things bring Him near to us because He loves us, and because of this we who are saved by His blood shall be saved by His life. Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we trust and murmur not, are undismayed and triumphant, for He is there, where the greatest trial is; and surely He will be to the end; it is the great High Priest, the Intercessor, and Leader of His own, who says, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."