Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Surviving The Storm

Maybe you feel like "Chippie the Parakeet" in Max Lucado's book, "Eye of the Storm". The story goes like this. Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched on his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over. 

The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when sssopp! Chippie got sucked in. 

The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie, still alive, but stunned. Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. 
Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do. She reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him. 

My guess is, most of us can relate to Chippie. There are times when life treats us more harshly than we expect. It’s possible to get battered, bruised and blown away by rough times and difficult circumstances. 

In Mark 6 we read about one such time for the disciples.

Mark 6:45-50 - Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and *said to them, "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid." 

Two words grab my attention right off.

The first word is immediately. Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat. There was a sense of urgency in Jesus’ actions here.

The second word is made. Jesus made the disciples get into the boat.

The word Mark uses here for “made” is a strong word in the Greek. It means to constrain someone by force. In other words, this was not a suggestion. Jesus commanded the disciples to get into the boat and take off ahead of him to Bethsaida.

Then later is these verses we read that Jesus came to them walking on the water and that He intended to pass by them. 

This same phrase is used in a couple places in the Old Testament when referring to a time when God "passed by" Moses and when He "passed by" Elijah. In both of those times, God was revealing Himself to these two men.

The same thing is happening here in Mark 6. But remember Jesus didn’t pass by to rescue the disciples in the boat. Jesus passed by for an entirely different reason altogether. He wanted them to get a glimpse of His greatness, to remember who He is and the great journey He called them to. 

These men were obeying God, but they were exhausted. They were tired. They were struggling against waves for hours, unable to make headway

Do you ever feel like that? I do. 

But remember it is in times like this that God reveals Himself to you. 

Jesus knew what He was doing when He sent them off to Bethsaida. He wasn’t caught off guard. He allowed them to experience the storm, because there was something He wanted them to know. Something they would need to know. 

There is nothing happening to you or me that Jesus isn’t aware of. The very fact that He is allowing it to take place, should give us a sense of security.

What storm are you smack dab in the middle of today. Maybe you are obeying Jesus and striving to know and do His will, but the storms keep coming.

Listen, that’s OK. Because the storms you are facing today, are only allowed by God’s sovereign will. Keep your hands on the oar. Keep pulling against the wind and the waves. Don’t give up. Don’t turn around. You’re right where you’re supposed to be.