Darkness was setting in as Jesus’ disciples launched their boat onto the open waters of the Sea of Galilee. After miraculously feeding a crowd of more than 5,000 people, Jesus had instructed the disciples to cross the sea and return to their home base in the village of Capernaum. The dark of night was not the ideal time to be navigating a boat across open waters. But these fishermen were not intimidated by this, as they had often worked through the night on these very waters. On this occasion, however, Jesus did not accompany them.
Storm clouds gathered as the disciples attempted to sail to their destination. Storms on the Sea of Galilee were nothing new and the fishermen were not surprised. But the strong winds and fierce waves prevented the disciples from making progress toward Capernaum. As the storm engulfed them, they realized they were stranded at sea with no escape in sight.
In the midst of the darkness, Jesus appeared. He came to the disciples, striding over the fierce waves, unfazed by the force of the wind. Sailing in a storm and rowing against the waves were familiar to them. A man walking on the water was not. And they became terrified. Recognizing their fear, Jesus spoke to his disciples with words of assurance, “It is I, do not be afraid!” Recognizing the voice of their Master, they invited him into their boat. And at the very moment as Jesus stepped into their midst, they found themselves at their destination. This man, their Master, had rescued them.
Life is filled with storms. The winds and waves of adversity create havoc for us, and we feel little progress being made. We find ourselves stuck in the storm. But, like the disciples, the storms can feel familiar to us. We know how these things go in life. We aren’t looking for a rescuer. We are just going to ride it out. But then Jesus enters into the situation in an unexpected way, much like his walking on the water. He appears where we don’t expect him. He takes us into unfamiliar territory. And he asks us to trust Him.
Obedience, the essence of trusting, is like that. In the difficult and uncomfortable circumstances of life, obedience compels us to do difficult and sometimes uncomfortable things. In our minds, the path of obedience becomes more frightening than the storm itself. So we choose to remain stuck in the storm. But Jesus offers us these words of comfort in the midst of the storm, “It is I, be not afraid.” And He offers to get into our boat. When we accept his offer by faith, the fierceness of the storm subsides, and he brings us to the exact place where we are supposed to be.
If you find yourself in the midst of a storm, you can lay down your oars with confidence that whatever Jesus asks you to do is exactly what you need to do to arrive safely home.
What I’m Reading
Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis
Building a StoryBrand, Donald Miller
Ways and Means, Roger Lowerstein
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