As modern life runs ever faster on fiber optics and high-speed internet, redemptive history continues to load thoughtfully, pensively, and slowly.
I make no secret of my own “free two-day shipping” mindset. A mouse-click is almost a guarantee whenever a “time-hacking” article floats across my laptop’s screen. I am intoxicated by the possibility that I, somebody who can generally squeeze forty hours of work out of forty hours of working, could fall into some slipstream and double my productivity without doubling my work.
But there are still some who resist doing things as quickly, painlessly, and cheaply as possible. In a letter written by Wallace Stegner to Wendell Berry, one writer to another, Stegner praises Berry for possessing thus:
"...(a stout preference for) the labor-intensive over the labor-saving, a team of Belgians over a tractor, manure over chemical fertilizers… you don’t want the speed and ease of a word processor. You already, you say, write too fast and too easily."
God is not a labor-saving God.
The Lord is not writing the story of redemption with a word processor, at a rushed sixty words per minute, but with his own handwriting: slowly, painfully, and with the ink of his own Son’s blood. God’s choice of instrument for salvation is a cross, not a snap of the fingers, and redemptive history itself would be moving more quickly if God had not chosen to create the serpent.
But God creates dragons so he can slay them, he creates sea monsters so he can drown them, and he creates storms so he can still them.
It’s worth noting that storms, in the Biblical imagination, are not merely natural phenomenons: a storm is what happens when creation turns against Creator. A storm is what happens when Leviathan rages underneath the surface of the sea. Storms are always personal. It just might be that the enemy is trying to rock you off the boat.
So a storm is what is happening at work when the frenzy of Facebook notifications, Instagram post likes, and technological distractions begins to sound eerily like howling winds outside, when the fluster of dishes, dirty laundry, and to-do lists stacking up begins to feel like waves beating against the boat. Let’s face it: most people are walking around with bodies physically tensed-up, anxiously postured as though a seawave might crash against them at any moment. It’s not surprising that we are all scrambling for time-hacking tips.
When the disciples happened upon a storm, it was personal. The gospel writers describe the waves as “beating” the boat and the wind as “against” the boat. Christ doesn’t teleport himself from the mountaintop to the sea, nor does he jet ski. He walks on water. This much is worth considering: the God of the Bible is not a time-hacking, time-saving, time efficient God, and he doesn’t do things as quickly, painlessly, and cheaply as possible.
If the disciples had been millennials, they would have shifted into manic-mode in the middle of the storm: they probably would have caffeinated with a local coffee shop’s espresso, googled for directions to the nearest shore, and paddled furiously ahead at 120mph. Rather than mistaking Christ for a ghost, they might have been moving so fast they would have missed him altogether.
As the storm of modern life grows faster, louder, and more hurried, what if you put your oars down? In the middle of a frantic work day, once your brief thirty-second prayer ended and the impatient itch to stress-paddle returned, what if you didn’t? Even while the waves crash around you, God can help you pray until your imagination slows down and pays attention to Jesus: the Christ who walks on water.
Walking on water is not the fastest way to the boat; it’s a theological statement of Christ’s sovereignty over the sea monsters of storms and chaos. The Christ who walks on water is the Christ who makes Leviathan’s head into pavement for his feet. The Christ who walks on water is the Christ who turns the chaos of your life into a firm foundation to worship him. When it rains, there is not a single drop that gets to fall without Christ’s permission. When waters seethe, there is not a single sea monster under your boat that doesn’t have God’s fishhook in its mouth. When the storms hits and you question where Christ is, the Bible is clear: he’s holding the leash.
It is possible to work faithfully, rather than frantically. We heighten the storm when we work anxiously, sloppily. We heighten the storm when we work prayerlessly. We heighten the storm when we paddle frantically. But when you pray with a Christian slowness, the waves calm and the once-ravenous Leviathan cowers to the deeps to hide. Then Christ invites you to step out on the waves with him so you can do the dishes, answer the emails, and complete the tasks in a way that glorifies Christ.
When the modern world threatens to drown you with its soul-crushing speed and endless to-do lists, remember the embarrassment of Leviathan under the disciples’ boat. The sea monster labored to create a context for unbelief and Christ transformed it into an occasion for worship. Leviathan whips up wind and Christ stills it, Leviathan swirls up waves and Christ walks on them. Oh, the failure of the enemy at the foot of the cross: the blood that the sea monster spilled at calvary is the very blood that Christ drowns the sea monster in. The cross the enemy nails Christ to is the very sword that Christ punishes the enemy with.
When the enemy endlessly stacks text messages, emails, and unanswered voicemails at your work, when he makes of your life a storm at sea, slow down, pray, and trust: Christ will use Satan’s own pitchfork to destroy him.