"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It’s a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid." "Lord, if it’s you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:22-31
Have you ever wondered why contrary winds seem to continually blow in our lives, I have. Why are there problems on the job and problems at home? Why do we seem to have problems in every aspect of our lives, all at once. I would like to suggest that perhaps the storms are not really about our jobs or homes or family or anyone else; maybe… these storms are all about us…me and you. We have all heard and said that we shouldn't think everything is about us....but sometimes it is.
Let us consider what God might be saying to us in our current situations. Yes we work really hard to look good on the outside, but on inside we are about to lose our natural minds.
We have gators on our feet’s, furs on our backs, pearls around our necks and diamonds on our fingers but yet we are at a loss to understand why the lions, bears and tigers (oh my) are on our trails. We swim with sharks, we dance like Kevin Costner with wolves, we sleep with the enemy and we are constantly subjected to the indecent proposals of the enemy and the prince of this world. Steaks in fridge, but no solutions to our storms. We have full pockets, but empty hearts. We are just poor pawns of an unjust world. Yes, the contrary winds and waves of the world leave us at a loss.
Yet, the scripture offers us several (actually seven) practical but powerful principles embedded within this passage that I believe can help with our own stormy situations.
Our text is recorded in each of the synoptic gospels.(Sorry, "churchspeak." It is in all four of the Gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All of these Gospels tell the same or similar stories, primarily about Jesus, but from different perspectives, or different points of views, different eyes...hence, syn-optic.) This is of great benefit to us, because it gives us a panoramic view of the events.
The framework of our text is that Jesus has just fed the five thousand. The disciples have just witnessed the marvel of the mighty, and miraculous manifestation and demonstration of the power of God incarnate on display.
There is a disconnection and a departure in our story. Our disconnections always precede our departures. If you want to get somewhere else, there are some things you must let go of that are keeping you where you are.
Jesus dismisses the crowd and commands the disciples to go to the other side. Observe the atmosphere, the weather is normal or should I say ordinary. The background of this textual episode is just an ordinary day.
The thing about storms in our lives is that they tend to happen when we have disconnected, made our departures and are on way. Additionally storms often show up during what believe to be ordinary days.
Let's look at the scripture. We have Jesus commanding devoted and dedicated followers to depart from their current location to another destination on what appears to be an ordinary day. Our text informs us that the principle parties, the disciples, are far away from land, in a boat. The other synoptic writers tell us that the boat was about half way across and then the weather changed. Such is the nature of storms. They come unannounced, and during a time when we are too far out to turn back and too far out it seems to make it over. It is during these times that God is able to develop and deliver us.
So, on to the principles involved:
1st Principle, found in verse 22, Storms come even when we are obedient to the Commands of Jesus. This text teaches us that a right relationship with Jesus is not a recipe for a storm-proof life. If we look at the text, it was Jesus who told the disciples to get on the boat. And it was Jesus who told the disciples to depart and go to the other side. So the text reminds us that even when we do the best we can, even when we are striving and straining to be the best for God that we can that storms will come. No matter who we are storms are going to come into our lives.
See how the weather changes and the calm waters become waters of restlessness. Sometimes we are sailing through life, working, providing for our families and going about our ordinary and habitual routines and the weather changes. The phone rings and we have lost a love one (weather has changed), sometimes it a lay off from your job (weather has changed), sometimes it is a love one saying I don’t love you any more and I want out of the relationship (weather has changed), sometimes it is your child sharing a moment of making a choice that will change everyone's life (weather has changed). You were striving to do what the word said, but the weather changed.
So, our first lesson is that storms will come even when we are obedient to the commands of Jesus.
What else can we find…