There have been several times in my life when I’ve stepped out in obedience to the Lord, acting on something I believed He has said to me, only to have things occur that I really wasn’t expecting. And I know I am not alone in that experience. Many of you reading or hearing this have also had your expectations challenged as you’ve stepped out to follow Jesus by faith. And if you are at all like me when things are different from what we anticipated, it’s very easy to begin to question whether or not we heard Him correctly. We may even begin to doubt His love for us! That’s why what we are told in Mark 4:35-41 is so important.
Jesus had been teaching on the edge of the Sea of Galilee; to better accommodate the crowds He had apparently gotten into a boat in order to teach from there. At the end of the day Jesus “said to His disciples: “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.” I want you to notice that this was Jesus’ idea. The disciples were being obedient to His will when they undertook this journey. But when they were about half-way across the water, “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.”
I can only imagine how terrifying that must’ve been for them all as their tiny boat heaved up and down in the inky darkness. Many of the disciples were fishermen, so they knew the danger they were in. Jesus however, was asleep on a cushion at the back of the boat. As the storm raged, His disciples woke Him, crying out, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” I think their reaction was much like ours in the bewildering circumstances that we face. We wonder if He really cared about us, wouldn’t things be going differently?
In their boat that night, in the midst of the distress and upheaval, Jesus stood and with a simple command calmed the storm. But then He kindly asked them why they’d been so afraid. Why had they not believed His word? After all, He’d said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” He had not said, “Let us go into the middle of the lake to drown.” His purpose was to see them through, not to leave them in the middle of the storm. And He will see you and me through the challenges that come to us as well.
But why did they even have to run into a storm on their journey? Couldn’t the Lord have prevented it and given them plain sailing? The clue is found in verse 41; for even when all was calm, the disciples “were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” They knew the Scriptures of old said that only God Himself could command the wind and the waves. Jesus had used their circumstances to reveal Himself to them in a way they had never seen before. It was because of the storm they began to see Christ for who He really is; they were astonished at His power.
Beloved, when you set off to obey Christ’s commands, know that trials may come and storms may break upon your little boat, too; but that does not necessarily mean you heard God incorrectly. It also doesn’t mean that He does not care. Jesus will come to your aid and calm the storm to a whisper. You will eventually make it through. You will stand with Him on the other side. And you will know more of His power and His love than you ever could have known had the storm not come, or if you had stayed at home.
© September 2019