Every Little Boat

The story of Jesus calming the storm is a well-known Bible story, probably in every Sunday School curriculum ever written. Jesus is tired after a day of teaching, He and the disciples decide to go over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. A furious storm begins, waves are crashing and almost swamp their boat, and the whole time this is happening, Jesus is asleep. The disciples kind of freak out, they try to fix things themselves, and finally, they wake Jesus up, blaming Him for not caring. When Jesus speaks and the storm is immediately calmed, the disciples are in shock saying “who is this that even the wind and waves obey Him.” I’ve always imagined this story from the perspective of the one big boat. We are good at that, I think. Focusing really well on what is going on exactly in our little piece of the world.

Today, as we look around ourselves at all the boats around our island in San Diego, I want to talk for a few minutes about a detail included in Mark 4:36, that there are also other boats on the water with Jesus during the big storm. Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s gospels all tell this story, but only Mark adds this extra detail. If these boats left the shore at the same time as Jesus, I imagine that there was a combination of people in the boats. Some of them already believed and followed Jesus, some of them wondered and wanted to know more, some might have been hoping to get close enough to Jesus to be healed, and many of them were probably afraid during the storm. As Jesus calmed the storm and we hear the reaction of the disciples, I think it’s kind of fun to imagine what the reaction might have been from the people in the other little boats. When the power of Jesus calmed the storm for the big boat, it also calmed for the people all around.

People looking at Jesus’ boat could have wondered all kinds of things: Do I want what they have? Is that power and peace available to me? What is different about those people?

As we welcome our families, we know that they are coming from all kinds of places. We know that they are all facing a storm. Some of our families might already believe and follow Jesus, some might be open to knowing more and some of them are probably afraid. Thankfully, it’s not our job to calm storms, but God can use our willingness to serve to calm the storms of our families for a little while this weekend.

When you each applied to volunteer and talked to one of our staff in an interview, you were asked the question: What is the reason for the hope that you have? I’ve heard this question asked by Legacy Retreat® families a lot of times, although not usually that directly. When someone observes “There’s something different about all you volunteers, why are you all so nice? Why do you do this–raise money, leave your families for a weekend?” All of these questions are really asking “What is the reason for the hope that you have?”
One of the things we do well at Inheritance of Hope is serve people, love people, and invite them into our hope-filled community. I’d like to challenge all of us to be ready to look beyond ourselves and what’s happening in our own lives to notice the people around us and love them in a way that makes them want to know more about the reason for our hope, more about Jesus who calms the storms of life and cares deeply for each person in every little boat.
Betsy Ogren is Inheritance of Hope’s Program Director. She originally shared this devotional with the San Diego Legacy Retreat® team in May 2022.