One of the most terrifying moments of my life was when my 3-year-old son and I were out on a jet ski ride when we were surprised by a terrible storm while in the middle of the lake. The rain was so bad I couldn’t see more than 8 feet in front of me, the waves were crashing over the front of the jet ski as I watched the sky light up with lighting continually striking. I remember being terrified and at that moment I was so ill-equipped to handle the situation. As my son clung to me petrified, I sang him song after song as we idled the more than three miles back to the house.
Storms do that to us. They surprise us, scare us, and leave us idling our way through life hoping we’ll make it to a safe place. But it is in the storms that if we take a step back, we can see God the most. Amazingly enough, it was in the middle of the storms where God revealed himself and his power to his friends known as the disciples. As a storm provided the back-drop, Jesus conveyed power, control, confidence, and comfort. Those lessons were quickly missed by the disciples in the moment of fear and chaos. And the beauty of the Bible is that it displays the power of the character of Jesus that is still true today. I want to look at a few principles we can take from the center of a storm.
In Mark 6:45-54, it tells about a storm the disciples got caught in the middle of the lake. (You should read it but if you don’t here is a summary.) Jesus sent the disciples across the lake while he stayed on shore to pray. A storm pops up on the disciples, rendering their rowing useless and they found themselves stuck amidst the chaos of the thunder, wind, and waves. Through the rain they notice a figure. They think it is a ghost but Jesus is walking out to them on top of the water. He then invites the disciples out on the water to walk with him but all were petrified. Only one took him up on the offer. Peter stepped out of the boat and onto the water defying the odds and walking where no man walked before. However, after a few steps, he turned his focus from the one giving him the ability to walk on water and put it on the waves and at that moment, he sunk into the water. But Jesus being so good, grabbed his hand and kept him from drowning and put him safely back in the boat. Here is what we can take away from this story:
Everyone gets scared in a storm:
Fear is a human reaction. I like to think I’m bigger than fear but I’m not. It is not whether you get scared or not but it is what you do with it. You can either keep with what you know, and stay in the boat, or you can operate by faith that Jesus is bigger than our circumstances. When we know this, we are willing to live and carry ourselves differently based on the character of Jesus not by our circumstances.
Jesus is in the middle of the storm with you:
This rarely feels true, but it is. The disciples did not see Jesus until he came to where they were not the other way around. He made his way through the chaos to find the ones he loved. They did not have to seek him out because he sought them out. When things are swirling around you, Jesus looks different. In the midst of the chaos, the disciples thought he was a ghost. Jesus doesn’t always look like what we think he should look like but it doesn’t mean he is not with us in the storm.
Our temptation is to look at what will take us out and not what will carry us through:
Peter stepped out of the boat and I have to give the guy credit – I don’t know if I would. I think it is easy to judge Peter for lack of faith because we know how the story ended. But he was writing the story with every step and that always feels different. Walking by faith is a continual practice not a one-time event. We have to constantly decide we are walking by faith. It is a moment by moment practice to look at where we are putting our confidence. Is it in the one who is walking on top of the water or the waves that take us out? It was not that Peter couldn’t walk on water, it was he started to believe he couldn’t and even shouldn’t be standing on the waves and that is what did him in.
When the water is over our heads – Jesus is still standing:
I can only imagine the thoughts Peter had as he sank into the sea. His life flashing before his eyes, the regret of getting out of the boat in the first place. I can imagine him calling out to Jesus as he sank, but do you know the amazing part? Peter sank, not Jesus. Jesus was so stable he was able to pull a grown man from the water, set him back on his feet, and walk him to the boat. Regardless of how we feel in the moment or how we see our life going Jesus is still standing. Jesus is still on top. When the water is over our heads, we are at the feet of Jesus, because he is still standing.
Let’s all remember this as the storm of chaos is swirling all around us.