A tad long but hopefully worth it today for those who can make through!
Enjoy and Stay Strong!
"Peter learned the lesson the hard way.
"But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary"(Matt. 14: 24).
As famous lakes go, Galilee—only thirteen miles at its longest, seven and a half at its widest—is a small, moody one.
The diminutive size makes it more vulnerable to the winds that howl out of the Golan Heights.
They turn the lake into a blender, shifting suddenly, blowing first from one direction, then another.
Winter months bring such storms every two weeks or so, churning the waters for two to three days at a time.
Peter and his fellow storm riders knew they were in trouble.
What should have been a sixty-minute cruise became a nightlong battle.
The boat lurched and lunged like a kite in a March wind.
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, leaving the disciples "in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves."
Apt description, perhaps, for your stage in life?
Perhaps all we need to do is substitute a couple of nouns . . .
In the middle of a divorce, tossed about by guilt.
In the middle of debt, tossed about by creditors.
In the middle of the loss of a loved one, tossed about by fear and loneliness?
In the middle of a recession, tossed about by stimulus packages and bailouts.
The disciples fought the storm for nine cold, skin-drenching hours.
And about 4: 00 a.m. the unspeakable happened.
They spotted someone coming on the water.
"'A ghost!' they said, crying out in terror"(v. 26 MSG).
They didn't expect Jesus to come to them this way.
Neither do we.
We expect him to come in the form of peaceful hymns or Easter Sundays or quiet retreats.
We expect to find Jesus in morning devotionals, church suppers, and meditation.
We never expect to see him in a bear market, pink slip, lawsuit, foreclosure, or war.
We never expect to see him in a storm.
But it is in storms that he does his finest work, for it is in storms that he has our keenest attention.
Jesus replied to the disciples'fear with an invitation worthy of inscription on every church cornerstone and residential archway.
"'Don't be afraid,'he said. 'Take courage. I am here!'"(v. 27 NLT).
Power inhabits those words.
To awaken in an ICU and hear your husband say, "I am here."
To lose your retirement yet feel the support of your family in the words
"We are here."
When a Little Leaguer spots Mom and Dad in the bleachers watching the game,
"I am here" changes everything.
Perhaps that's why God repeats the "I am here" pledge so often.
The Lord is near. (Phil. 4: 5 NIV)
You are in me, and I am in you. ( John 14: 20 NIV)
I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matt. 28: 20 NIV)
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. ( John 10: 28 NIV)
Nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. (Rom. 8: 38 NLT)
We cannot go where God is not.
Look over your shoulder; that's God following you.
Look into the storm; that's Christ coming toward you.
Much to Peter's credit, he took Jesus at his word.
"'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.'
So He said, 'Come.'And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus"(Matt. 14: 28–29).
Peter never would have made this request on a calm sea.
Had Christ strolled across a lake that was as smooth as mica, Peter would have applauded, but I doubt he would have stepped out of the boat.
Storms prompt us to take unprecedented journeys.
For a few historic steps and heart-stilling moments,
Peter did the impossible. He defied every law of gravity and nature; "he walked on the water to go to Jesus."
Matthew moves us quickly to the major message of the event: 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).
A wall of water eclipsed his view.
A wind gust snapped the mast with a crack and a slap.
A flash of lightning illuminated the lake and the watery Appalachians it had become.
Peter shifted his attention away from Jesus and toward the squall, and when he did, he sank like a brick in a pond.
Give the storm waters more attention than the Storm Walker, and get ready to do the same.
Whether or not storms come, we cannot choose.
But where we stare during a storm, that we can.
God's call to courage is not a call to naïveté or ignorance.
We aren't to be oblivious to the overwhelming challenges that life brings.
We're to 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"(Heb. 2: 1 NASB).
Do whatever it takes to keep your gaze on Jesus.
Read biographies of great lives.
Ponder the testimonies of faithful Christians.
Make the deliberate decision to set your hope on him.
Courage is always a possibility.
C. S. Lewis wrote a great paragraph on this thought:
Faith . . . is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. . . . That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods "where they get off," you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion."
Feed your fears, and your faith will starve.
Feed your faith, and your fears will.
Jeremiah did this.
Talk about a person caught in a storm! Slide down the timeline to the left about six hundred years, and learn a lesson from this Old Testament prophet.
"I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of [God's] wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long"(Lam. 3: 1–3 RSV).
Jeremiah was depressed, as gloomy as a giraffe with a neck ache.
Jerusalem was under siege, his nation under duress. His world collapsed like a sand castle in a typhoon. He faulted God for his horrible emotional distress. He also blamed God for his physical ailments.
"He [God] has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones"(v. 4 RSV).
His body ached.
His heart was sick.
His faith was puny.
"[ God] has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation"(v. 5 RSV).
Jeremiah felt trapped like a man on a dead-end street. "He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked"(vv. 7–9 RSV).
Jeremiah could tell you the height of the waves and the speed of the wind. But then he realized how fast he was sinking.
So he shifted his gaze.
"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him'"(vv. 21–24 RSV). "But this I call to mind . . ."
Depressed, Jeremiah altered his thoughts, shifted his attention.
He turned his eyes away from the waves and looked into the wonder of God.
He quickly recited a quintet of promises. (I can envision him tapping these out on the five fingers of his hand.)
1. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
2. His mercies never come to an end.
3. They are new every morning.
4. Great is thy faithfulness.
5. The Lord is my portion.
The storm didn't cease, but his discouragement did.
So did Peter's.
After a few moments of flailing in the water, he turned back to Christ and cried,
"'Lord, save me!'
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?' And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down"(Matt. 14: 30–32 NIV).
Jesus could have stilled this storm hours earlier.
But he didn't.
He wanted to teach the followers a lesson.
Jesus could have calmed your storm long ago too.
But he hasn't.
Does he also want to teach you a lesson?
Could that lesson read something like this:
"Storms are not an option, but fear is"?
God has hung his diplomas in the universe.
Rainbows, sunsets, horizons, and star-sequined skies.
He has recorded his accomplishments in Scripture.
We're not talking six thousand hours of flight time.
His résumé includes:
Red Sea openings.
Storm stillings and strollings.
His lesson is clear.
He's the commander of every storm.
Are you scared in yours?
Then stare at him.
This may be your first flight.
But it's certainly not Hjs.
Your pilot has a call sign too: I Am Here.
---- "Fearless " by Max Lucado