Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Stormy Elements

Is there a storm raging where you are right now? Does it feel as though hurricane force winds follow you wherever you go? Do you have a thunder cloud hanging over your head? Is your life cycling out of control as if a cyclone has you spinning aimlessly? Does life appear calm outside of yourself while inside an eruption is about to take place? Or are you in the eye of the storm experiencing tranquility while being surrounded by a ring of unrivaled rainstorms?

If you can answer “yes” to any or all of the above questions, then you’re in good company. The disciples of Jesus encountered the literal and physical storms of life. We, like them, can communicate a thundering affirmative answer to having tasted the tempests of life. In good company, you say? Really? It doesn’t feel so good! So how do we handle life’s deluge of disturbances and discouragements? What do we do when hemmed in by trouble? Let’s read several examples of the disciples’ experiences and see how they handled the gales of life. 

Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.  John 6:16-21 (NASB)
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. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn 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?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  Matthew 14:22-33 (NASB)
In both accounts of Scripture, the disciples were in a boat on water, not solid ground. On both occasions, they were initially without Jesus when strong winds blew and the waves stirred violently. They were frightened and yet, each time when Jesus finally came to them, He said, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 
Before Jesus appeared to them, what do you suppose they were thinking and doing? Did their circumstances seem insurmountable? Were they distraught at the possibilities of danger? Did anxiety overcome them, resulting in flared tempers? Were they consumed with doubt for their safety? Did they focus solely on their surroundings or did they cling to the promises of God? Had they lost all hope? 
When life is topsy-turvy and chaos encircles you, what are you thinking? When storms roll in, are you filled with anxiety, doubt, and worry? Where is your focus: on your circumstances or God’s promises? Do you lose hope or do you trust God? Can you hear Jesus speak reassuring words of life to you or do you only hear Satan spew lies of hopelessness and death?
In the story from John, after the disciples received Jesus into the boat, they immediately landed on solid ground. Jesus gave them firm footing and they weren’t rocked to and fro. In the second story from Matthew, Peter began to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the storm. Sight overwhelmed his faith; the situation at hand gained control over God’s promises of old. 
We’re all guilty of doubt like Peter. Even though we may claim faith in God, we usually allow the visible dire conditions of life to overpower our belief. The sight of our situation causes us to falter in our faith. Why do we give disease, death, and discouragement dominance over our lives? Why don’t we allow life, liberty, and love from Jesus to linger in and around us?
God gives us directives in how to live our lives. Jesus desires for us to live free from worry and sin by giving Him our cares and troubles. We are to trust in Him and hold fast to His promises. We are to be vigilant in our faith by standing firm on the Word of God. Allow these Scriptures to infiltrate your heart and mind, giving you a firm foundation on Christ Jesus, the solid rock. Take your focus off the storm and turn your eyes upon Jesus!
...for we walk by faith, not by sight...  2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB)
...casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  1 Peter 5:7-10 (NASB)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:31-39 (NASB)
No storm of disease, death, depression, distress, discouragement, disappointment, danger, or dread can keep us from our God. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Fight the good fight of faith and believe in our faithful God. Allow Jesus to enter your boat and keep your eyes on Him.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 (NASB)

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful and encouraging post Debbie...I had a huge "storm" this week....weary, but full of faith because of my faith that is anchored in Christ!