Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”
Psalm 32: 8
“When God does the directing, our life is useful and full of promise, whatever it is doing; and discipline has its perfecting work.”
H. E. Cobb
Today’s Study Text:
“And when He (Jesus) had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves, for the wind was contrary.”
Matthew 14: 23, 24
“In The Midst of the Sea”
“We cannot abandon life because of its storms. The strongest trees are not found in the safety of the forest, rather they are out in the open spaces – bent and twisted by winds of all seasons. God provides deep roots when there are wide-spreading branches.”
What storm am I in the midst of in my life right now?
How has this stormy time affected my relationship with God?
“Let us belong to God even in the thick of the disturbance stirred up round about us by the diversity of human affairs. True virtue is not always nourished in external calm any more than good fish are always found in stagnant water.”
St. Frances de Sales
“Now when evening had come, the boat was out in the middle of the lake, and He (Jesus) was by Himself on the land. And having seen that they were troubled and tormented in their rowing, for the wind was against them.”
Mark 6, 47, 48
Just for a moment let’s put ourselves in the place of the disciples who, along with Jesus, had what you and I might call, “quite a day of it!” The events began with the news that John the Baptist had died. However by evening, after Jesus had fed a hungry multitude of potentially 15,000 plus people, the disciples must have felt as if a turn-around had happened. Things were looking up! And so when Jesus “constrained” them to head across the Sea of Galilee, they obeyed. This isn’t one of those occasions in Jesus’ life where the disciples planted their feet and tried to insist that things go their way.
As Jesus encouraged the crowd to head home, His thoughts turned to some time alone with His Father – time to refuel for the journey ahead. But when Jesus was alone in prayer, Matthew Henry notes that trouble began to brew on the Sea of Galilee. Even though the disciples were right where Jesus had sent them. As Henry observes, “The disciples now were where Christ sent them, and yet met with this storm!” I ask you, has this ever happened to you? You are following God you are trusting His Word. You are going where He leads and then suddenly trouble hits you like a tsunami.
The Bible even goes so far as to say that the wind was contrary or as the Greek tells us, the wind was opposite or antagonistic toward them. Now if I had been in this position, I might have considered turning the boat around and letting the wind push me back to the shore. But this isn’t what happened. These were experienced sailors. They had faced storms on Galilee before and so in the darkness of the night, they “toiled” forward. Pastor Warren Wiersbe offers this enlightening take on the storm which struck Jesus’ disciples unexpectedly, a storm not unlike something you may be going through at this very minute in time: “As we read our Bibles, we discover that there are two kinds of storms: storms of correction, when God disciplines us; and storms of perfection, when God helps us grow. Jonah was in a storm because he disobeyed God and had to be corrected. The disciples were in a storm because they obeyed Christ.” Then Pastor Wiersbe offers some timely advice for you and me when large waves and fierce winds are ready to take us down. “Many Christians have the mistaken idea that obedience to God’s Will produces ‘smooth sailing.’ But this is not true…When we find ourselves in the storm because we have obeyed the Lord, we must remember that He brought us here and He can care for us.”
Professor Jae Won Lee, in reviewing the passages of Scripture which detail this stormy ordeal, points out that, “the wind and waves show that there are perils even in the world Jesus offers His followers.”
If we expect smooth sailing through life, and who wouldn’t want a trouble free existence, we need to remember that it was Jesus who reminded all of His children that, “In the world you shall have tribulation” (John 16: 33, K.J.V.). Trouble should not surprise us. But often it does, at least I know this to be true in my own life. And so what is the lesson for each of us when we get in the boat, row our arms off, exert all our energy only to find ourselves in the middle of the sea feeling as though Jesus has left us there to be battered by the winds and swamped by the waves?
Believe it or not, every storm I’ve faced has had this incredible ability to drive me closer to my Father – as strange as it may seem. And this is why I want to end my thoughts today with the insightful words penned by Macrina Wiederkehr, who was so gracious in letting me use a special quote of hers for the very first bookmark we ever produced here in Transformation Garden.
Here’s Macrina’s thoughtful revelation regarding those times when we find ourselves right in the middle of a stormy mess and we don’t know what to do:
Into The Eye of God
“For your prayer
your journey into God,
may you be given a small storm
a little hurricane
named after you,
to get your attention
violent enough to awaken you to new depths
to shake you to the roots
to remind you of your origin:
made of the earth
yet steeped in eternity
frail human dust
yet soaked with infinity.
You begin your storm
under the Eye of God.
A watchful, caring eye
gazes in your direction
as you wrestle
with the life force within.
In the midst of these holy winds
In the midst of this divine wrestling
your storm journey
like all hurricanes
leads you into the eye,
Into the Eye of God
where all is calm and quiet.
A stillness beyond imagining!
Into the Eye of God
after the storm
Into the silent, beautiful darkness
Into the Eye of God.”
“Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal;
Chart and compass come from Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.”
“O Lord of the Oceans,
My little bark sails on a restless sea,
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course;
Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals.
Bring me to harbor with flying pennants, hull unbreached,
I ask great things, expect great things, shall receive great things;
I venture on thee wholly, fully – my wind, sunshine, anchor,
The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless,
But my helm is held steady, thy Word secures safe passage,
Thy grace wafts me onward, my haven is guaranteed.
This day will bring me nearer home;
Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,
my peace flowing as a running tide,
my righteousness as every chasing wave.
Help me to live circumspectly, with skill to convert
every care into prayer.
Halo my path with gentleness and love,
smooth every asperity of temper,
let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief,
may I strive to bind up every wound,
and pour oil on all troubled waters.
May the world this day be happier and better because I live.
Let my mast before me be the Savior’s cross,
And every oncoming wave the fountain in His side.
Help me, protect me in the moving sea
until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.