Have you ever had a time when your life seemed to be going well and you are hard at work doing what you need to do to provide a life for yourself, but then the clouds start rolling in. Trouble seems to come from nowhere and your calm and peaceful life is suddenly turned upside down. Drama becomes your daily portion and you feel smacked in the face with anxiety. As the storm brews and the wind howls you begin to feel the earth shake and you wonder what in the world have you done to deserve such turmoil? Life is now beginning to feel fearful and you cry out for relief yet more wind, more hail, and more rain pounds you down until you can hardly breathe. There is one question I want to ask you. Who created the storm you are in? There is a stormy situation that John tells us about with the disciples, take a look.
When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going, John 6:16-21, (English Standard Version or ESV).
The disciples were just wanting to get somewhere to get some food and a good night’s sleep and so they went down to the sea and got into a boat and began to row to the other side. I imagine that they had been pretty busy that day because they had just helped distribute food to five thousand people and had witnessed a miracle of Jesus. I imagine that they were tired of people and wanted to have a relaxing row away from the crowd to a quiet place to rest and recuperate. Just an ordinary day in their life with Jesus I suppose.
I am not a person who spends much time in a boat but I used to live on the shores of a large lake and I have watched storms build quickly and take boaters on the lake by surprise. When the wind blows it makes the water choppy and I have seen small fishing boats rock violently back and forth. It isn’t long until those boats are coming ashore and waiting out the storm so that they don’t drown. Boating safety is important and watching the weather is a must for boaters because a storm can blow in quickly with disastrous results. The disciples had been rowing for a while and the wind was getting stronger. I imagine that they were afraid they would drown too.
I find the next part of the story a little puzzling. The disciples were afraid because the wind was blowing stronger and they saw Jesus walking on the water toward them. They seemed to recognize that it was Jesus. I can only imagine that the closer Jesus came to them the harder the wind was blowing which made the water more choppy thus the boat more difficult to steer. I get the sense that they were not afraid of Jesus but afraid of the circumstances they found themselves in, a storm not of their own making but created by Jesus walking on the water toward them.
I can relate to that fear, that anxiety, that perplexity, those emotions the disciples displayed, can’t you? I have had moments in my life where everything was going well and then suddenly there was something that happened, an unexpected moment where I became afraid. Perhaps I encountered an illness, or an unexpected surgery, or a sick relative that needed my time and attention. I was doing well and then the winds of life change and I find myself not doing so well, yes I can relate to the emotions the disciples displayed and I am sure that you can as well. So what happened next is also interesting.
But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
What comforting words to the disciples. What comforting words to us when we realize that we are not alone but Jesus is coming to our rescue. We begin to see that the stormy circumstances we find ourselves in the midst of is not a storm of our own creation but a storm that Jesus has brought to us for a special purpose. Jesus does that sometimes. Perhaps the illness we experienced was to make us stop and rest and think and glory in Jesus. Perhaps the unexpected pregnancy was to remind us that God is in control of our lives. Perhaps the illness of a relative was to remind us that we need to stay closer in contact with our family and loved ones as their time on earth is not something to be taken for granted. Perhaps that car crash was to bring someone in need of the gospel to our attention. Whatever the storm, whatever the difficulty we face momentarily we see Jesus in the midst of it all and we are comforted, just as the disciples were. I don’t know about you but I think this is pretty awesome.
Jesus brings the storm but Jesus also brings the calm, the peace, the feeling that all will be alright because we know that we can trust Jesus. The disciples knew that they could trust Jesus and so they welcomed Him into the boat and immediately…IMMEDIATELY…they were at their destination. I think that must have been some wild ride, like being on a hydrofoil boat speeding so fast that you arrive before your stomach does! Know what I mean? Sometimes Jesus brings a storm into our lives to move us from where we are to where we need to be. That is the point of this story that John has related to us.
I can think of several times in my own life experiences when circumstances came up so quickly and before I could hardly take it all in I was moved from my comfortable safe place to another more fulfilling place. I believe that you can think of some times in your own life where you moved quickly through a situation. Can you see that Jesus was the creator of your storm? Can you see that there was a reason you needed to be shaken up a bit so that you were better prepared for an adventure that Christ was bringing? Oh how boring our lives would be without Jesus coming into our boat!