O Gumption, Where Art Thou?

GUMPTION. A word with a hilarious sound, but heroic definition. The Greek word, deilos, is used when one is cowardly, and there is a needless fear of “loss.” Deilos, describes a person who has lost their gumption, or in other words their determination and courage. O Gumption, Where Art Thou? It might sound like the next comedy drama film, or maybe not, but I could fairly ask myself that question many times and fall short with an answer of silence. Did you know there is a curious account of Jesus during his years of ministry alongside the disciples that includes gumption? It’s true! And it occurs with quite a suspenseful plot, with life lessons at others expense. Truly, that is the best way to learn in my opinion, but the Bible also recommends this kind of learning, as being wise. So let’s look for wisdom to pocket together.

Mark 4:35-41 (CSB)
35 On that day, when evening had come, he (Jesus) told them, 
        “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.”
36 So they left the crowd and took him along since he was in the boat.
        And other boats were with him.
37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat,
        so that the boat was already being swamped. 
38 He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion.
        So they woke him up and said to him,
        “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” 
        The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 
40 Then he said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 And they were terrified and asked one another,
       “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”

I can only imagine what the look would be on my face if I was there, in that boat, surfing the fury of the waves and jerked about by uncowardly winds. Furrowed brow, bugged-out eyes, mouth gawking open. Absolutely, confounded. I mean, I was sharing a boat with Jesus, the Messiah, whose is sleeping while we all are about to experience death by drowning! Fear and anguish, you bet would flood my soul. While I in a frantic panic am finding all my skill sets, my career as a fisherman, and boat-handling expertise useless (assuming I was Peter, Andrew, James or John); Jesus is sleeping soundly at the stern! My soul in anguish, emotions in turmoil, and mind keenly aware of the rational conclusion in how this will end. NO HOPE. EVERYTHING LOST. Jesus awoken by his followers panic, simply commands,

“Silent! Be still!”

Literal translation in the Greek is powerful,
To be silent! Put to silence!”

Undoubtedly, my face frozen with the same look, in what had been sheer panic, now in pure marvel, when he turns, now replies in His favorite style, a question.

“Why are you afraid?”
“Why have you lost your gumption?”

Do you still have no faith?”
Not yet confident to trust in Me?”

In four statements, He calmed nature and the soul into a yielding obedience. What better response from the disciples,

Who then is this?”

I wonder if on later reflection Psalm 107:23-32 did not come to the disciples mind. In hindsight how could such an event not bring a curious smile to the face when meditating on this Psalm’s hymn concerning God’s relationship to Israel and now the Church as well?

Psalm 107:23-32 (CSB)
Others went to sea in ships,
        conducting trade on the vast water.
24 They saw the Lord’s works,
        his wondrous works in the deep.
25 He spoke and raised a stormy wind
        that stirred up the waves of the sea.
26 Rising up to the sky, sinking down to the depths,
        their courage melting away in anguish,
27 they reeled and staggered like a drunkard,
        and all their skill was useless.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
        and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper,
        and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet.
        Then he guided them to the harbor they longed for.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord
         for his faithful love
        and his wondrous works for all humanity.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
        and praise him in the council of the elders.

Our hope is secured (Ephesians 1:11-14). His promises are certain (Hebrews 6:13-20). His faithful love firm (Romans 8:13-35; 2 Timothy 2:11-13). As the disciples faced the conundrum of a storm and their faith, so do we today. Even as experienced men on the sea, that day proved their skills and experiences of little help. Today, our medical advances, scientific innovations, economic models, and all abilities combined, a virus exposed it all too little. Skill sets put on their wit’s end.

See the only way Jesus could control the wind and the sea, and the soul, is because He was the Word made flesh (John 1:1-7), and as Creator could say, “Truly, I tell you, before Abraham, I am” (John 8:58). The Word cannot change what is spoken, but only fulfill it. Jesus’s action were never at His wit’s end. His wisdom (Proverbs 8) and experience as the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9-14) was the very being that holds the world together (Colossians 1:17). Jesus Christ, the epitome of sovereignty, comes in visible reference points to show us that all the treasures of this world, its wealth, its grandeur, its beauty, and its intelligence is empty when compared to the riches, the majesty, and treasures of the glory of dwelling with God in Heaven (Revelations 21-22).

There are a few poets who can “mood-condense” nature while jostling the soul toward truth. My heart warms when I read James Whitcomb Riley, an American poet, who drains an ink well dry in humor and sentiment.  His poem, “Hymb of Faith” gives beautiful lines to reflect on, especially during this time. The seemingly misspelled words are meant to capture the Midwest dialect. Riley’s legacy, as a poet, was to write in dialect, so I copied it here in its pure state.

Hymb of Faith
O, THOU that doth all things devise,
   And fashon fer the best,
He’p us who sees with mortul eyes
   To overlook the rest.

They’s times, of course, we grope in
   And in afflictions sore;
So knock the louder, Lord, without,
   And we’ll unlock the door.

Make us to feel, when times looks bad
   And tears in pitty melts,
Thou wast the only he’p we had
   When they was nothin’ else.

Death comes alike to ev’ry man
   That ever was borned on earth;
Then let us do the best we can
   To live fer all life’s wurth.

Ef storms and tempusts dred to see
   Makes black the heavens ore,
They done the same in Galilee
Two thousand years before.

Before after all, the golden sun
   Poured out its floods on them
That watched and waited fer the One
   Then borned in Bethlyham.

Also, the star of holy writ
   Made noonday of the night,
Whilse other stars that looked at it
   Was envious with delight.

The sages then in wurship bowed,
   From ev’ry clime so fare;
O, sinner, think of that glad crowd
   That congregated thare!

They was content to fall in ranks
   With One that knowed the way
From good old Jurden’s stormy banks
   Clean up to Jedgmunt Day.

No matter, then, how all is mixed
   In our near-sighted eyes,
All things is fer the best, and fixed
   Out straight in Paradise.

Then take things as God sends ‘em
   And, ef we live er die,
Be more and more contenteder,
   Without a-astin’ why.

O, Thou that doth all things devise
   And fashon fer the best,
He’p us who sees with mortul eyes
   To overlook the rest.

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