When Life Gets Stormy

2011-01-14-43I’m really excited about being back at Eastgate this Sunday! I had a great vacation, but I’m stoked about getting into the Gospel of John again! This Sunday we’ll be reading the account of Jesus walking on water, found in John 6:16-21.

Right after the miracle of Jesus multiplying bread so that more than 5,000 people could eat and have leftovers, we step out into troubled waters. Life seems to have that pattern to it, doesn’t it? We go from this idyllic scene where Jesus has everyone sitting on soft, green grass and is handing out snacks, to a scene where all hell breaks loose and Jesus seems nowhere to be found.

We’ve all experienced that sort of thing, haven’t we? It may not be literal boats and waves, but storms have a tendency to hit our lives. The Bible doesn’t ever seem to indicate that we won’t face times of trouble.  But this short account of this amazing event can clue us in on what significance our storms may have.

As you read this story – consider a few questions: Was Jesus really nowhere to be found in their crisis? Where did Jesus make himself known to them? What was the biggest issue facing the disciples, and how did they respond to it? How effective was the disciples’ rowing against the wind in getting them to their destination? What changed so that they finally reached the shore?

When you consider the storms you face(d) in life – what lessons can you glean from this account? In what way does this story encourage or challenge you as you deal with circumstances that oppose you in life?

When the waves are buffeting you and the wind is resisting you – take a moment to listen, you may just hear “It is I; do not be afraid”.

See you on Sunday!

One comment

  1. Well, as life goes sometimes, the disciples seemed to be facing compounded problems right after their season of rest on the soft green grass. It seems like quite a while back Riley had said in one of his sermons that even soldiers in battle get to go to the back of the lines for a bit of rest before being thrown back on the front lines again. Thankfully, God gives us those times of restoration between the storms of life on this planet. Sometimes it’s hard to settle down and fully enjoy those breaks as gifts from our sweet Jesus. We have to learn to savor them for what they are and not feel guilty while refueling for the next leg of our journey. Hopefully, before the disciples got into that boat they were not expecting that everything would be free food and still waters. It would be easy though, to see why their perceptions could have easily been there. So far in their walk with Jesus things had been going pretty smooth, feasts with abundant wine, lots of people being saved and healed, religious folks being rebuked. Honestly, they hadn’t had much adversity so far in their experience with their King. Now all of the sudden, they’re in the dark with a storm brewing. The word dark sometimes means ignorance of truth or lack of spiritual perception. The text says that it was dark and Jesus had not come to them yet. I’m sure out there at sea as the wind was coming up and the seas were rising and they were feverishly paddling, they had to be wondering what was taking Him so long, thinking, surely if He was with them their journey would have been much easier, after all things had been good so far.. Where was He anyway? Had He abandoned them, surely He couldn’t be cool with all of this? Then on top of that they see a ghost or a sea monster or something heading their way.. things seemingly went from bad to worse. Been there… I think this last “obstacle” was their biggest problem. They failed to recognize Jesus in the middle of the storm. They never expected Him to be involved in all this trouble they were facing. This so reminded me of a situation with my son several years back. When my 2nd son came along after about two years we knew something was not right with him and began the long process of seeing doctors, specialists, etc. to figure it out. I remember running into a friend in the middle of all of that and her asking me what I thought it was. I responded, ” I’m not real sure yet but I can handle anything but autism”. Well, of course that is exactly what it was and is. Honestly, at the time, I wasn’t sure where God was in all of that. I was overwhelmed and exhausted from LONG days and even longer sleepless nights. I remember just falling unto my son’s bed one day during one of his “melt downs” balling and thinking I can’t take this anymore I can’t do this. I didn’t even have the strength to pray about it I was too busy trying to survive it and trying to find someone to fix this kid and bring some relief to our situation. Probably just like the disciples felt after about 3 miles of rowing against those crashing waves. During those early years I never once thought God might be doing something good through all of this. I truly didn’t recognize Jesus in that storm at all until one day, after i had contacted the local junior college about a program they have to help these kids, what I refer to now as “an army” showed up at my door to help. The head of the autism program, his assistant and about 4 other student intern’s came into the middle of our storm, undoubtably sent by Jesus Himself, and began helping our son and us make forward progress. I began to perceive Jesus in the storm and He has continued to provide His help calming the storm year after year. In the text, when the disciples finally recognized Jesus, “they willingly received Him into the boat” and immediately they were where they were supposed to be. I find this so profound, once they perceived Him in the storm, accepted that He was indeed ok with it and coming along with them, they saw that they were right where they needed to be. Forward progress was made, they went from point a to point b. They grew in their knowledge of Christ. They knew Him as a very present help in times of trouble. I am overwhelmed by God’s grace in this. To His exhausted and clueless disciples, (myself included) He showed up, pretty much unsolicited, hearing our hearts, knowing our struggles and moved by our tears. From the text we learn that we need to remember as storms approach that He is indeed aware, already there and will carry us through… It may not always be when or what we expect , He didn’t become visible to the disciples until they had exhausted themselves, yet, once they perceived Him in the storm, turned out they were right where they needed to be. I knew I couldn’t handle the autism and I was at the end of my strength, of myself, finally, when the army showed up and that’s exactly where I was supposed to be..I believe sometimes God brings us to the very brink of despair so that He can reveal His glory to us. We simply won’t know Him as the Hero until we need rescuing, we won’t know him as comforter until we are in despair, we won’t know Him as friend until we are abandoned, we won’t know Him as provider until we loose our job, as lover until our spouse is gone and on and on the list goes. So with this in mind we can view the storms differently. We can trust that with each wave Jesus will reveal His love to us in a new light until we have grown to know the width and depth and height of His never ending LOVE!

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