They were in trouble, they were ‘straining at rowing’, in a very familiar story in the Bible when the disciples were following Jesus and were led into a boat where, by nightfall, the wind was against them.
So much for our idea about ‘follow Jesus and you can sing songs like, “Everything’s going my way!” Those ideas are like an old Irish proverb that many of us have hanging somewhere in the house:
“May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face; The rains fall soft upon your fields and, Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
This old Irish proverb is filled with a lot of ‘warm and fuzzies’ but there is really only one portion of it that remains true, ‘May God hold you in the palm of His hand.’
Following Jesus is not to be confused with a life filled with all ‘warm and fuzzies’! Yes, we will have ‘moments’ like this old Irish proverb, but many of us know that many, many a day the road does not rise to meet us, especially those that have been led to walk through the wilderness for some time. And many know the harsh winds that threaten to destroy, especially fighting disease when there is not one ounce of strength, not one. And it happens when the sun is hidden behind clouds so dark and thick that it is hard to remember the warmth of the Son…
This is a time when we forget what’s true. But, we CAN know that God is watching and we CAN know that He’s aware of all that’s going on. We CAN know that He has a hold on us and we are being held in the ‘palm of His hand’. We CAN know that He is with us! But our thoughts aren’t clear at times in a trial, and we ‘think’ many thoughts and need to be reminded to KNOW truth! What is truth? God shows us by giving us pictures:
“Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. (Mark 6:45).
Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.“Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.” Mark 6:48.
He sees us ‘straining at rowing’ while we are on the very boat that He ‘made’ or ‘allowed’ us to get into!He knows all about the winds and how they often go ‘against us!’
“And about the fourth watch of the night “…(all I know is, this seems real late – the fourth watch! God is reminding us, that He is NOT in a hurry, even though He knows oft’ times that we are!)
He came to them, walking on the sea,” Everyone knows that He came to them walking on the sea, this is totally familiar, but not what comes next:“and would have passed by …Mark 6:48.
I think over and over again on these words, ‘He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed by…’
He would have passed by? Oh my, that is crazy to me, but I think this is very important for us to see. How could a God of love simply ‘pass by’ while we are ‘straining at rowing’ in the storm He allowed for us?
But God is clear in His word and the picture that He is painting! He is there, and He would have passed by, but WHY didn’t He?
“…and would have passed them by But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out…” Mark 6:49.
They didn’t know it was Jesus, but they didn’t know what it was, so, they were terrified and – ‘cried out!’.
Perhaps,before they got on this boat they might have been a little ‘puffed up’ being part of God’s huge miracle where they fed the 5,000 and even took up 12 baskets full of leftovers? We don’t know, but we DO know that Jesus waited to meet them ‘about the fourth watch of the night’. And they were tired. There was no more self-sufficiency in them, there was no pride, there was simply TOTAL DEPENDANCE on their Savior at that moment! They weren’t ‘self-sufficient’ anymore!
“For they all saw Him and were troubled.” Mark 6:50. I am sure they were!
But just by knowing about the story, we can miss these next words that speak so powerfully,“And immediately He talked with them and said to them,…”Mark 6:50. He was about to pass them by, but they cried out and NOW He is talking with them, IMMEDIATELY! Don’t you love that word, ‘immediately’?
“And immediately Jesus talked with them.” We can’t know that unless we open the Bible and turn to Mark chapter 6! But when we take time to read His word,perhaps on a day when we can’t even see which way is up, and we are simply a miserable mess- but we take the time and make the choice to ‘call out His name’ – “Jesus”-we discover that He, the Creator, the Great Shepherd, the Father in Heaven, the I AM everything that you and I need- He TALKS!
Here are His words, (not just for His disciples, but for you and me, for TODAY), “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”Mark 6:50.
How many times do we simply pass our Bible by? Or are we still ‘self-sufficient’ and have no need to ‘cry out’ to Him.
“…and (He) would have passed them by. But when they saw Him walking on the sea…”, we don’t think He’s watching, but He is. He’s waiting for us to respond to His presence. He walks on the sea, for us. He is love, remember? He so much wants us to respond to His love. He so much wants us to know that our ‘sufficiency’ is …in Him. We learn this when we read the rest of the story…
“Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.” Mark 6:51. And we can read in the Psalms as well:
“For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea…Their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end. Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:25-31.)God brings a peace that passes all understanding when we cry out to Jesus. He calms the storm within. Then a song returns…
‘Be still my soul, the waves and wind still know, His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below! Be still my soul, thy Best and Heavenly Friend, through thorny ways, leads to a joyful end.’ The joyful end IS knowing that yes, God’s got us in His hand. We don’t know that by having some Irish proverb hanging somewhere in our house, we KNOW it by finding ourselves in a ‘turbulence’ and great storm, and making the choice to call out to Him…
He won’t pass you by then. Oh, the un-surpassing beauty of His word: “Be of good cheer, it is I, do not be afraid.”Despite the present circumstances, immediately, Jesus brings a peace that passes understanding.
Thank you Jesus for giving me a husband , Mike Rypkema that waits on You, cries out to You and trusts You. I have witnessed his immediate peace over and over again. I post this in honor of you, Mike Rypkema because you lead by example, believing God’s word even before the sea calms!