Scripture for the week: 1 Samuel 17.57-18:5, 10-16; Psalm 133; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
The troubles of rulers who have outstayed their welcome are the stuff of tabloids today; dig back a few thousand years and we find swirling clouds of suspicion and mistrust in the pages of the Bible.
Saul, appointed king by Samuel, against that prophet’s better judgement, started to find too much favour with himself, and fell from favour with God. As David (the secret successor) appeared on the scene, Saul started to lose the royal marbles. God’s power shifted to David, but in reality, that power was too great for both men – both of them weak without God’s support.
The madness of king Saul is the madness of us all: to delude ourselves into believing that the grace God offers to channel through us is something of our own devising.
God’s power ought to make us at least awe-struck, if not afraid: the disciples of Jesus were apparently as scared of someone who could sleep through and then calm a storm as of the storm itself.
Nowadays we rationalise the stories of God’s miraculous power – in part, because we are at least as scared of uncontrollable external power as were the disciples. In any case where was God’s power on the cross? That’s a rhetorical question: answered by God on the third day.
The power makes us uncomfortable, and untrusting, just like Saul, or the disciples. We have little choice but to learn to trust God for what God is and what God does; and we might do well to bear in mind that God’s power, manifest through Jesus, is anything but a guarantee of safety: it is meant to be an empowering agent for change in the world. We are called to a radical form of trust in God that will ultimately improve the world, but not without requiring vulnerability and self-sacrifice on our part.
What about us? How do we deal with God’s power? Do we try to channel it neatly into human desires and objectives? Do we try to use it to justify grabbing power for ourselves, and to cling to authority or control past our ‘sell-by date?’ Can we allow Christ to enter the storm-tossed boats of our lives to face the awe-filling power of his voice to invoke peace and stillness – and his call to justice?