rev walter richardson_webjpg.jpgHe got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. — Mark 4:39 NIV.

I will never forget an experience I had immediately after I retired from the pastorate.  I was summoned to a hospital to visit and pray for a longtime friend. After I conversed briefly with the family in the lobby, I decided to take the elevator instead of the stairs, because I was tired, to go to the second floor to visit with my friend.

I pushed the appropriate button on the elevator, the doors closed and the elevator began to quietly move to the second floor. After a few seconds, when the elevator doors did not open to the second floor, I pushed the second floor button again to make sure the elevator had been activated.  Nothing happened. I pushed the “open door” button. Nothing happened.

It did not take me long to realize that I was stuck between floors. I used the elevator phone to contact the operator, who immediately assured me that help was on the way.

What helped me get through the experience of being stuck in an elevator, first, was the promise of the operator that I would at some point be rescued. But I also became acutely aware of all the noise associated with being stuck. I could hear voices below and above. I was fully sensitized to the noise of the chains that were squeaking and I was wondering if they were failing or being used by the workers to rescue me.

I was aware that the motor was running because I heard the noise. I heard lots of noises — but the elevator was not moving. And although it was nearly 20 minutes before I was pulled out, it seemed like hours of noise, nervousness and negativity.

The other thing that helped me get through the weird experience of being stuck on the elevator  was the presence of the workers and engineers. What was prominent in this perplexing predicament were the positives of promise and presence. The negatives of noise and non-movement were overcome by promise and presence.

In 2009, Notre Dame professors Tim Loughran and Bill McDonald researched the Harvard Dictionary and extracted all the words that could be considered negative in common usage. I reviewed that extensive list and noticed that most of the negative words that began with “dis” could be associated with noise, because noise is generally considered negative.

Notice a few of the characteristics of noise: it disables, disarms, disappoints, is disastrous, discomforts, is discon-certing, is discordant, discourages, disgraces, disguises, is disgusting, disheartens, is disorderly, disorganized, dispels, displeases, disrupts, distorts, distracts, distresses and disturbs. Noise is usually the opposite of serenity and quiet.

In the Markan narrative of Jesus and the storm, Jesus blessed His disciples with the promise that they all would successfully reach the other side.  They had His word that the journey they began would not be cut short. Then He blessed the disciples with His presence. They were not left alone to deal with noise and non-movement. He was right there on the ship with them.

In addition to the promise and presence of the Master in the disciples’ negative situation, Jesus also blessed them with peace.  So, what Jesus said to the disciples, the winds, and the storms was “before I handle your negative situation, let’s get rid of the noise.”  He actually said “peace” before He said “be still.”

Each of us can work, study, relax and operate in peace because the Master speaks peace to us.

So, tell your agony, your enemies, your burden, your challenge, your storm that Jesus said, “Be quiet.” You have His promise, His presence, His peace and, yes, His power to handle your situations.

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