Sailing Stormy Seas

Bible Book: Mark  4 : 35-41
Subject: Storms of Life; Hardships; Faith; Jesus, Power of

Gary Carr tells the story of Chippie the parakeet who was sucked up into a vacuum cleaner by a lady who was trying to quickly clean seed from the bottom of the birdcage. She accidently raised the vacuum hose too high and swishhhh, the bird was sucked into the vacuum and all the way into the bag.  She turned off the vacuum, unzipped the vacuum bag and pulled the startled bird out. Poor Chippie was covered with vacuum dust from beak to claw. The owner rushed to the bathtub, turned on the cold water and plunged Chippie under it to wash him off. She suddenly realized that the poor bird was trembling from the cold water and was soaking wet, so she snatched out her hair dryer and blasted him with hot air! You might ask if Chippie survived. He did! But the owner said that Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore!

We can all feel at times like Chippie. We’re suddenly sucked down into a vortex, soaked in cold water, and blasted by a hot wind. Needless to say, that can take the song out of a person.

Something like that happened to the disciples of Jesus on one occasion. They were caught in a storm, a storm we might declare as one of the storms of life. We find this incident in Mark 4:35-41: (KJV).

“35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Jesus told His disciples that they were to pass over the Sea of Galilee to get to the other side. The Sea of Galilee is one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world. Those of you who have been there know what I mean. I actually preached on a boat out on the Sea of Galilee, with several boats pulled alongside joining in. With the mountains surrounding the lake, the biblical history in our hearts, and the bright blue water below, it is a scene I will never forget.

The Sea of Galilee is about thirteen miles long and seven miles wide. It sits in a depression that is almost seven-hundred feet below sea level, surrounded by mountains that rise to about two-thousand feet above sea level on the eastern side. The only problem with this lovely spot is that the mountains around it and the deep lake area below, creates sudden and violent storms. Anyone who has ever had your front door open on a windy day, and then had someone open the back door at the same time, has experienced the powerful pull of wind through a confined space. In fact, on such occasions, the thrust of the wind can jerk a door closed so violently that it will break a window or create a small crack in the wall beside the door in a house. That is the kind of effect created by the cold north winds from the mountains around the Sea of Galilee and the hot south winds below. Something like this happened on the occasion that Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee as found in Mark 4:35-41.

Today I want us to look at three things from this biblical story that applies to each of us, and calls for us to reach down to a deep well of faith in God. In the storms of life, and we all have them, we must know how to cope – no, to do more than that – we must learn how to excel.

I. The Trip on the Ship

Note in this account that Jesus told the disciples to board a ship so that they might travel to the other side. This is very interesting language and it pictures something important for all of us. In the Bible and other literature life is compared to a voyage across a sea. It is called “life’s sea.” We sing, for example, “Jesus, Savior, pilot me, over life’s tempestuous sea.” Paul once wrote saying that we should not make shipwreck of our faith (“Having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” NKJV). Even a song by a popular country singer some years ago contained the words, “I will sail my boat till the waters all run dry.” I expect that everyone is at least vaguely familiar with the words, “Michael rowed his boat ashore.” The illustration of life as a body of water and our passage through it as sailing the seas of life is a frequent one in literature and song.

So, think of this incident described in our text as an example of life – your life and mine. We are all on the sea of life together. Our text tells us that other little ships were along with the ship upon which Jesus and the disciples sailed. We all live on this sea of life together, some on the big ship of faith and others on the smaller ships perhaps without it.

The account of this passage reveals to us that life is a journey and it is often fraught with dangers and trials. One thing stands out in our study regarding the little ships and the other ship in the event before us. Jesus was not on the other ships, but He was on board the ship in question. If Jesus is in your life, it makes all the difference in the world. Jesus comes on board when you accept Him as your Lord and Savior. Traveling the sea of life without Jesus onboard is sad and serious.

Note three things about having Jesus on board your ship of life.

A. Your Life has a Captain when Jesus is Onboard

Jesus gave directions to the disciples and they listened to Him because they trusted Him. Acts 2:10 states, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Yes, Jesus is referred to as the Captain of our salvation. So, Jesus took charge and the disciples followed His directions.

Let me share with you today, no matter what you are going through or enduring, Jesus knows the dangers of the sea you are sailing and He can steer you around them, through them, or if necessary over them! On one occasion Jesus actually walked ON the water – He went over on top of the storm. With Jesus in the ship of your life, you have a mighty Captain at the wheel.

Once many years ago, when a ship was tossed in a storm, a frightened man stood shaking and trembling. Just then, the man saw a young boy who looked so calm that he turned to him and asked, “Son, how can you be so calm in this awful storm?” The little lad replied, “My dad is the captain, and he has never lost a ship at sea.” Jesus is our Captain, and He has never lost a ship that was in His charge! When Jesus is in your life, you have a Captain onboard.

B. Your life has a Course when Jesus is Onboard

Secondly, when Jesus is in your life you have a course to follow. It is interesting that Christians were first called “People of the Way.” They were followers of Jesus. Later they were referred to at Antioch as Christians for the first time. I like the title, “People of the Way,” or “Christ Follower.” That is what we are! He is living in every believer and we are following Him in our daily walk.

Look at verse 35 and note that Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us pass over to the other side.” Jesus stepped on board and He began to give orders. He is not just Savior, He is Lord. Note that Jesus clearly said that they were going to arrive on the other side. What a promise to remember when you and I are in the midst of a storm that we are going to reach the destination that the Lord has for us.

Without Jesus, your life is life is like a ship on the sea, tossed about without compass or chart. You drift aimlessly without purpose or direction.

There is an old story from a shipwreck that I recall from my reading. The captain ordered the men to abandon ship and get into the lifeboats. The lifeboats were lowered adn the sailors filed into them, but just then one of the sailors dove into the water and swam back to the sinking vessel. Some thought he had been overcome with fear and felt he was going to drown. A few moments later the sailor swam back to one of the lifeboats and they noticed he had brought something with him. When they pulled him up into the lifeboat they noticed that he had the ship’s compass. With heaving breath he said, “I had to go back and get this. Without it we were lost without hope of direction.

My friends, without Jesus with you on the sea of life, you are lost with no direction or hope. Thank God for the blessed compass we have in the storms of life when Jesus is onboard.

C. Your Life has a Completion when Jesus is Onboard

Jesus told the disciples to get into the boat to cross to the other side, so He had already assured them of arriving at their destination. No storm could possibly destroy what Jesus had promised. No storm can stop what Jesus starts! You can be sure that Jesus will bring you to your ultimate destination. Yes, you may face storms in your lives that are violent and brutal, but you will arrive safely at home one day. Jesus in your life gives you assurance of landing safely on heaven's shore.

In 2 Timothy 1:12 we read, “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” Note that Paul was suffering in some kind of storm in his own life when he wrote these words to Timothy, yet Paul had assurance that Christ was going to keep the promises He made.

We read in Romans 8:35-39 NKJV, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Yes, we are more than conquerors through Him. The Captain is In Hebrews 6:19 we read, “This [hope] we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the [Presence] behind the veil.” No matter how high the waters roll, or how strong the winds blow, our anchor holds. We will complete the journey because of the Captain of our salvation.

We not only need to see the Trip on the Ship, let us now look at…

II. The Travail in the Gale

In verse 37 we see the wind that came upon the sea and blew the boat about in the water. This is just like life, isn’t it? Suddenly a storm arises in life, seemingly out of nowhere, and we are blown about in ways that we cannot control or understand. The life of a believer often encounters many kinds of storms. I’m sure you are like me and you enjoy life when the gentle south breezes are blowing your way. The light zephyrs and pleasant streams of wind produce peace and tranquility. Alas, it is isn’t long, however, before the winds rise from the north, the rain pours down, and the little boat of life is shaken to its core. That is life, and it is the life of a Christian.

Let me tell you a couple of things about the storms that come in the Christian life…

A. The Storms Arise Suddeningly

The storm in our text today was a sudden storm. Trained sailors would never have gone out sailing on the Sea of Galilee if they had known that a storm was rising in the distance. As I said, the Sea of Galilee is located in a low place with mountains all around it and storms can rise up in minutes. Those out on the water in those circumstances, without the benefit of motors to drive the boat to shore, were unable to make it to safety before the storm struck their vessel. The Greek word for storm in our text today speaks of a violent thunderstorm with very high winds.

In life, all may seem to be well and then without warning the telephone rings and we learn that a death has occurred and our lives are turned upside down. You are driving to buy groceries and a drunk driver crosses over into your lane, and the next moment you are in an ambulance on the way to the hospital clinging to life by a thread. Lesser storms also arise, of course. You wake up one morning and you have a pain where you didn’t even know you had a body part! Or, your air conditioner goes out on the hottest day of the year, and to make matters worse it is going to cost thousands to replace it. Life is just filled with small and great storms that rise up suddenly. For the Christian, this can sometimes be disconcerting. You are doing all the right things in your daily walk with God - you pray, read your Bible, attend church regularly, tithe and seek to act in a manner befitting your Lord at all times, yet the storms come to you just like they come to others, and sometimes they even seem worse in your case. Please note that the disciples were doing exactly what Jesus told them to do when the storm hit. They were in the middle of God’s will as the winds began to blow.

The passing of one day can change all of life. James said, “Boast not thyself about tomorrow, for you know not what a day may bring forth.” One telephone call change our sunny skies into a great storm. One visit to the doctor’s office and we can be in the winds of a major illness. How suddenly the storms of life come as we sail upon life’s sea. Being a Christian does not make you immune to the storms.

Yes, these storm come shockingly, but also…

B. The Storms Arise Strongly

This was not just a mild storm we read about, but an extremely violent one. The storms of life can blow you into a depression or into intense fear. That is what happened to the disciples in the storm upon the Sea of Galilee. They were terrified! Now, this is very interesting. They had Jesus in the boat with them, but they were still afraid. Just because you are a Christian, it doesn’t mean that you will be free of the fearful winds of life, or that you will not be shaken at times by the circumstances on your passage upon life's sea. In fact, your fear can be your worst enemy.

I heard about a farm wife who attended a tea party given by the ladies ministry of her church. At this tea, the hostess served mushrooms. The farm lady thought the mushrooms were such an elegant touch that she decided to purchase some to serve when it was her turn to host the ladies. However, the mushrooms in the grocery store were far too expensive for her purchase. She remembered, however, that there were wild mushrooms growing in one of their fallow fields. When she asked her husband if they were safe to eat, he suggested she try them out on their old useless hound dog, Blue. She did so and ole Blue didn't seem to be sick after eating them, so she served them to the ladies. Just as the last of the mushrooms were consumed by the women at her home, her young 6-year-old son raced in the room to announce, "Mom, Ole Blue just died." Panicked, the woman called an ambulance and all her guests were raced to the hospital to have their stomachs pumped. As the last ambulance pulled away from their house, the little boy said, "Mom, the truck that ran over Ole Blue never even slowed down!"

Sometimes we create fears that are unnecessary. We turn circumstances into storms that were never meant to be storms to begin with. Christians must be able to live life with faith and peace. Yet, storms occur and we feel we are going to be swept under. That is how the disciples felt on the ship, because they were certain that it the boat was going to sink and they were going to drown. These disciples, who were well trained in sailing, were afraid and when trained sailors are afraid you know you are in a severe storm. There are storms that come which are so difficult that the strongest and best trained Christian will wonder if Christ really cares!

There are storms of suffering, storms of sorrow, storms of separation and, sadly, storms of sin. Even if it is a storm of your own doing – a storm of sin, remember the songwriter’s words, “I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore…” Even then, the Captain of our Salvation can and will pluck us out of the roaring waters!

III. The Friend in the Wind

Always remember, you have a Friend in Jesus – a Friend closer than a brother. He is with you always and in every situation. Note with me what Jesus did in the circumstances the disciples were facing.

A. What Jesus did was Specific

The disciples went to Jesus in the back of the boat, where our Lord was sleeping, and awoke Him saying, “Master, do you not care that we are perishing?” Wow, what a question. There was a great deal of doubt in that question and in a way they were accusing Jesus of being totally unconcerned with the danger they were in. Isn’t that just like us when we are facing hardships? “Lord, don’t you care about my troubles?”

Our Lord has told us to call upon Him and He will answer, and answer Jesus did. After all, Jesus once told the disciples, “Ask and it shall be given to you.” We are not in control and the sooner we figure that out the better. No amount of money, health, powerful friends, or intelligence will do when a real storm strikes at the very core of your life, but Jesus is able to do more than you can ask and even more than you can imagine. You can trust His decision, for He never fails. Even when you cannot see His hand, you can trust His heart. They brought to Him a specific need and that is how we are to pray. Get down to the real issue you are facing and tell Him all about it. Yes, He already knows but your faith is measured by the manner in which you trust Him with your life.

B. What Jesus did was Supernatural

Jesus stilled the storm. My, my, what a Savior! He spoke and the wind and waves obeyed Him. Only Jesus has the ability to do that.

In His humanity, Jesus was sleeping. In His divinity, Jesus stilled the storm.

In His humanity, Jesus knew hunger. In His divinity, Jesus feed five thousand with a little boy’s lunch.

In His humanity, Jesus wept. In His divinity, Jesus will dry every tear from our eyes.

Trust His divinity. He is Lord. All nature must obey Him. Every demon must flee at His command.

C. What Jesus did was Sufficient

In verse 37 we see the storm arise. In verse 39 we see Jesus arise!

We see the storm arise, but the storm must cease when Jesus arises! Listen, if Jesus does not calm the storm around you, He will place a calm within you.

Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, was talking to a young missionary who was about to start work in China. “Look at this,” Taylor said and then he pounded his fist on the table so hard that the tea cups jumped, and the tea spilled out on the table. The young missionary was startled and actually jumped when Taylor pounded the table. The Taylor said, “When you begin your work, you will be buffeted in numerous ways. The trials will be like blows. Remember, these blows will bring out only what is in you.”

Corrie Ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place and survivor of the German concentration camps, said that people often came up to her and said, “Corrie, my, what a great faith you have.” She would smile and respond, “No, it’s what a great God I have.”

That is our answer to the storms. We have a great God and we must allow our faith to sustain us in the storm. What He does is always sufficient to our situation.


I don’t know what you are going through, but every one of us here is either in a storm, coming out of a storm or getting ready to enter one. Without faith, life and eternity can be fatal.

Patrick Kelly was a poet with rare insight that reached far beyond his 15 years. You've probably never heard of him and the poem you are about to hear is probably the only one he ever wrote... but when he wrote this one, he wrote with the soul of a young man mirrored in millions of others. Listen with discernment the lines of a searching young man... see if you, like me, hear the cry that is echoed not only by 15-year-olds like him, but often among those of us with thinning hair and bifocals:

"The sky is blue and way too high

I wish I could get beyond the sky

There's things up there better than dope

Is there some chance, is there some hope?

Stoned crazy, I'm out of my mind

I know there's something I cannot find

A home and love, is that what I've lost?

I've got to get there, whatever the cost

Is there a ticket I need to buy,

To get off this earth and into the sky?

I hear there's a god in that ocean of blue

And he's calling and crying for me and you.

Is there a ticket I need to buy,

To get off this earth and into the sky?"

Pat Kelly wrote this masterpiece, carefully pinned it to his shirt, walked to a tree forty feet from his house, and hung himself. If Pat had only known that there is a ticket to get you into that sky and that it was bought and paid for by the Son of God at Calvary.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior? He is Lord and He will save you today. Turn from your sin and come to Him today. Ask Him to forgive you and to save you. He will not turn you away. He will be with you through all the storms of life and will take you home when the final storm comes!

If you are a Christian, and you are in the midst of a storm, come to Him now. He is right there – in the back of the boat. Call on Him and He will arise and stand at the prow of your boat - your life! No matter what has arisen in your life, when He arises, He is bigger than your storm.