22-23As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. 24-26Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. "A ghost!" they said, crying out in terror. 27But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid."
In our Christian walk, there are moments when we wonder what is happening - we are living in obedience, making right decisions, doing exactly what God has asked us to do - then out of the blue, testing and trial seems to come our way. What is up with that? These disciples were heading to the opposite shore - something the Lord had asked them to do. In their obedience, the testing comes.
Three things become apparent in reading this passage:
- The boat they were in was not likely to help them out very much - it would fail them if that is all they placed their trust in. There are times we place so much trust in something in the natural that we don't really trust in God. When the waves of life come, we get pretty tossed about! It is important for us to see that the "boats" of our own making - the things we have or could do for ourselves to escape the storm - are seldom the best things to rely on.
- The winds they were about to face would alter their course if they were to give into them. It is not an uncommon thing for us to face winds of opposition in life. In fact, we almost always have "crosswinds" that want to "blow us off-course". All these winds seem to do is to is to make the journey a little harder - slowing us down in our progress, making it more difficult to reach the end of the storm. The winds actually help us more than we think - that pressure drives us to move beyond the trust in our own "rowing" to reaching out to God's hand to bring us through.
- The rowing that occurs when facing a contrary wind is futile if it is just us doing the rowing. All the strength we can muster is not enough - our good works will never get us deeper in Christ. There is no benefit in our own good works - we need the touch of Jesus in our lives.
Out in the middle of the lake, storms all around, tired from the rowing, boat holding more water than you'd like to see? Don't despair! God is on the way. The timing of his arrival may be a little different than we'd like to see, but he is on the way. One thing is clear in the scripture - God always comes in the hour of our greatest need! It is at the point that our strength is just about gone - our hope is silently fading away - he comes!
I guess I've never really had Jesus come to me "walking on water", but I'd have to say that he he has come in ways I thought would be impossible, at times I think unimaginable. When Jesus came to them on the water, he was not in another boat. He was doing the extraordinary - the unexpected. His coming revealed his power over that which was giving them the most terror at the moment - the waves, the wind, and their worries.
Don't miss the subtle reminder in this passage - he doesn't rebuke the storm first, he settles their hearts! The cause of their worries, all their toiling through the night, the testing of their strength - all concern him, but not all get his attention in the moment. He focuses on them first! Settling their heart - bringing them rest in their spirit.
The next time you are facing the winds of opposition in your steps of obedience - look where you least expect to find the Lord. It is likely he may come in the way we least expect his help!