“It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.” Jn.6:18
It happens. Life gets dark. Storms come. Jesus is nowhere in sight. We strain at the oars to make headway alone. When yikes!-- Is that a ghost? Our worst fears get the better of us and HELP!!! Panic ensues. And then the voice: "Don't be afraid. It's me." WHEW! And gladly we let Jesus into our boat and suddenly we've reached our destination. What was the big deal? [Click here to read John 6]
One moment we're exhausted, haunted by imagined ghosts and about to die. The next we're safely in harbor, the wind either abated or not an issue… The difference? Jesus in the boat.
"Without me, you can do nothing" He says. (Jn.15:5-7) Funny, how much energy we can expend doing nothing!!! But when we abide in Him and let His words abide in us—when we let Him in for the boat ride--it's amazing what will be accomplished just for the asking. Peter admonished his readers as they were undergoing persecution to be self-controlled for the sake of their prayers because the end was at hand. I Pet.4:7
In a similar passage Jesus warns his followers of tumultuous events that will come upon the earth and says they should "watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap." In the midst of "people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world" and "in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves", we are to be those who walk with confidence, recognizing that "our redemption is drawing nigh!" Lk.21:25-34 How is this possible? Only because we have His words. We know the rest of the story. Heaven and earth will pass away, but not His words…
I listened with sympathy this week to a young guy candidly rationalizing the acceptability of his lifestyle choices. He has chosen to forego 'old school' moral standards. He's got the map upside down and is heading a direction he doesn't expect. Things are pretty backwards, but in a world of other people doing the same sorts of things, he figures it will all work out. He can't see through this fog of relativism. His grandparents wouldn't approve. His girlfriend's parents either. But this is a new generation. It's all good… And I thought, no. I sympathize with the way things 'seem' to be, but it's a sham. I'll stick with the 'old school' any day if that means the tried and true Word of God. When did God get old anyway? He's not a Grandpa! He is forever timeless. His standards don't flex with our changing times and that's a good thing, not a bondage. His Word is a lifeline! And I'm praying for this young starry-eyed couple. They're entering a storm unawares. I'm holding out the hope that they will cry out in the storm and find that Jesus is close by.
Way back when, people were offended at Jesus' words too. He claimed to be better than the sweet manna that had fed their forebears. He claimed to offer eternal wellbeing, true nourishment. They scoffed and thought Him sacrilegious and impertinent to make such claims. They only followed for today’s loaves and fishes… Many turned back from following Him. This was too much.
But His hand-picked disciples, what did they say? "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!" (Jn.6:68)
This is the one whose words we most need to hear in the storm surges of life. When all is dark, when the rules to live by seem to have changed and we're unsure what to do, when we can't see past the rising waves… we can invite Him into the boat and listen to His reassuring, eternally true words—these words of spirit and life that transcend all craziness of place and time. Operating on any other basis is a useless expenditure of energy at best, and a recipe for destruction at worst. Only the Spirit of God, breathing through the Word of God gives the life and peace that we so need. (Jn.6:63)
And I'm passing on this story of Jesus climbing into the boat, to a new generation. With a three-year old attention span my grandson listened this morning, all cuddled up on Grandmom’s bed, imagining as best he could what it would be like to be in a boat at sea in a storm… and the difference it could make to invite Jesus into the boat. He knows little of storms, or boats, or oceans, or life! But one day I pray this story will hold him in good stead. With Jesus in the boat, we can weather anything.
“For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." Jn.6:33