Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Calm in the Storm


Jesus has fed the 5000 (John 6:1ff), so He compels His disciples to get into a boat and set out on the Sea of Galilee, because He knows that they are in great danger on the land from the crowds that want to make Him king. In sending the disciples out in the boat, do we believe that Jesus was aware a storm would be coming? Absolutely…but, why would He bring His friends out of danger only to send them into what would appear to be another dangerous situation? Well…it is not as dangerous as it might seem. The storm is actually the safer place to be, even though they cannot understand this at this time. The real reason for the storm is that the Lord wants them to gain perspective by learning to trust in Him.

Storms happen for a number of reasons – for Jonah, it came about because he had disobeyed the Lord. Other times, storms come up because we have obeyed the Lord -- we receive persecution as the result of doing the right thing. Finally, sometimes storms just happen for no apparent reason. There are actually a number of wondrous things that happen in this event. Jesus walks on the water (as does Peter in the Matthew account). Jesus also calms the storm instantly…and the overlooked wonder is that the boat immediately comes to land where they are going. One of the key phrases that Jesus uses to settle His disciples once He approaches the boat is “it is I (which literally means I Am), do not be afraid.” What can the I Am do? God, the Son, has control over the wind and the waves…in fact, all elements are under His control. He can allow the storm to come, bring the storm if He so desires, and calm it all just the same – instantly! Yet, how often do we react in fear like the disciples and not see things as they really are. The following story might help us to realize the difficulties that fear can create for us in situations that we do not understand.

In Barcelona, Spain, a truck was rolling along carrying an empty coffin. A tired traveler, who was hitch-hiking along the same road, caught a ride in the back of the pick-up. Suspiciously eyeing the coffin, he sat near the rear of the bed. After going down the road a few miles, it started to rain. Not wanting to get soaked, he examined the coffin, found it empty, and crawled inside to try to stay dry until the rain quit. In the meantime, he fell asleep to the hum of the truck as it moved along. Further down the road, the driver pulled over and picked up a couple more hitchhikers. They had not traveled too much further, but when the first traveler…unaware of having acquired some traveling companions…awakened from his nap, pushed open the lid of the coffin, stuck his head out and exclaimed, “Oh, it has stopped raining!” The two late-comers were so terrified that they jumped from the moving truck, injuring themselves.

Isn’t this all too human? We often react in fear to situations we don’t understand…and we end up getting hurt in some way. Sometimes, it may be as simple as getting out of our comfort zones, while at other times, the situations we face are much more serious. Too many times, the story of the traveler illustrates how it is that we deal with fear or stress – we run, jump, or hide. In short, we react, instead of act. We need not to behold the storms that come our way…whether they are minor trials or major hurdles…and react faithlessly, as if the Lord is not big enough to help us to overcome and to grow! Sometimes, we do have storms in life -- some that we may bring about…others that just happen. Remember, the peace of God is not necessarily the absence of trials, but the assurance of His presence in the midst of them. We don’t always know how things are going to be…but we should cease fretting, worrying, stressing…and just simply “be still and know that He is God.” We need to exercise faith and trust in Him who is able to help us. The more that we work at yielding ourselves, yielding our wills to the Lord, the more that we will be able to experience the joy and the peace of the Lord that He offers to us…and the more readily His answers will come. But, we need not fear – in faith, seek to allow the God who controls the storm to have control of your life. Give him your storms, and see the work that He can do to calm them down, and experience the blessings He has to offer.

"The peace of God is that eternal calm which lies far too deep in the praying, trusting soul to be reached by any external disturbances." - A.T. Pierson


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