LIFE COMES WITH STORMS
Atmospheric conditions of our fallen world churn serious turbulence. Health crises. Economic struggles. Unwanted invoices and cancer cells that howl down on our lives and turn life into a bull ride.
Peter and his fellow storm riders knew they were in trouble. Sunlight was a distant memory. Rain fell from the night sky in buckets. Lightning sliced the blackness with a silver sword. Winds whipped the sails. The boat lurched and lunged like a kite in a March wind.
The boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. — Matthew 14:24 NKJV
Descriptive phrase, don’t you think? Apt description for the stormy seasons of life. The gusts and the gales turn contrarily against your wishes, leaving you “in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves.”
In the middle of a divorce, tossed about by guilt.
In the middle of debt, tossed about by creditors.
In the middle of a corporate takeover, tossed about by Wall Street and profit margins.
But after as many as nine hours in the sea, the unspeakable happens.
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JESUS COMES, COMMANDING THE STORM
The disciples spot someone coming on the water. They assume it’s a ghost and cry out from fear.
At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared to death. ‘A ghost!’ they said, crying out in terror. — vv. 25–26 The Message
They didn’t expect Jesus to come to them this way.
Neither did we. We expected Him to come in the form of peaceful hymns, or Easter Sundays, or quiet retreats. We expected to find Jesus in morning devotionals, church suppers, and meditation. We never expected to see Him in a divorce, death, lawsuit, or jail cell. We never expected to see Him in a storm. But it is in storms that He does His finest work, for it is in storms He has our keenest attention.
Jesus replies to their fear with an invitation worthy of inscription on every church cornerstone and archway:
Courage! I am! Don’t be afraid!
I like that translation by Frederick Bruner. More common readings, such as “It is I!” or “I am here!” lose the full force of Jesus’ pronouncement. Jesus is not merely announcing his presence on the sea; he is declaring his power over the storm. He’s not saying, “I am here.” He is saying, “I am.” He is saying what God said to Moses through the burning bush:
Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you’. — Exodus 3:14 NKJV
This is what God said to Abraham in the desert:
I am the Lord. — Genesis 15:7 NKJV
and to the Hebrews in the wilderness:
I am He, and there is no God besides Me. — Deuteronomy 32:39 NKJV
This is no cry of identity; it is a claim of divinity. Is anyone in control of these winds? I am.
Who is in charge of the torrent? I am. Is anyone coming to help? I am.
“Courage! I am! Don’t be afraid!” With these words Christ claims the position of Chief Commander of the Storm. Peter, much to his credit, takes Jesus at his word.
Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. — Matthew 14:28 NKJV
Peter would rather be out of the boat with Christ than in the boat without Him, so He calls on the commander to command. And Jesus does.
So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. — v. 29 NKJV
For a few historic steps and heart-stilling moments, Peter does the impossible. He defies every law of gravity and nature: “he walked on the water to go to Jesus.”
I can’t help but wonder how Matthew felt as he wrote that sentence. Surely he had to lower his pen and shake his head. “Peter... walked on the water to go to Jesus.” My editors wouldn’t have tolerated such brevity. They would have filled the margin with questions: “Can you elaborate? How quickly did Peter exit the boat? How cautious was his first step? What was the look on his face? Did he step on any fish?”
Matthew has no time for such questions, however; he moves us quickly to the major message of the moment.
WHERE TO STARE IN A STORM
But when [Peter] saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ — v. 30 NKJV
A wall of water eclipses his view. A wind gust snaps the mast with a crack and a slap. A flash of lightning illuminates the lake and the watery mountain range it has become. Peter shifts his attention away from Jesus and toward the squall, and he sinks like a brick in a pond. Give the storm waters more attention than the Storm Walker, and get ready to do the same.
God wants us to look for good news and seek out the accomplishments of His work.
His call to courage is not a call to naïveté or ignorance. We aren’t oblivious to the storms. We just counterbalance them with long looks at God’s accomplishments.
We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. — Hebrews 2:1 NASB
Do whatever it takes to keep your gaze on Jesus. Memorize Scripture. Sing hymns. Read biographies of great people. Ponder the testimonies of faithful Christians. Walk to the sound of His voice. Make the deliberate decision to set your hope on Him. And when your attention turns away, bring it back.
Excerpted with permission from In the Footsteps in the Savior by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
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How do you expect Jesus to show up in your life? Are you looking for Him with expectation? Step out of the boat and get your shoes a little wet! ~ Devotionals Daily