When we have time to reflect back on our lives…hasn’t most of it been spent rowing...struggling to move from one situation to a better one? Sometimes our struggles have produced an improved change in life….but usually, for most of us, we continue to feel the struggles confronting us like pounding waves continuously hitting the beaches. Life is never still…life is continuous movement and change…and with that always comes problems.
Imagine how the disciples felt when Jesus told them to get in a large row boat and wait until he came to them….a terrible storm arises, they are struggling to stay afloat, darkness descends, and no Jesus. Where was he and what was he doing?
In his article “Miracle at Midnight” Max Lucado points out a different way of looking at this famous story in the New Testament…and how it applies to us today…why our expectations of Jesus’s responses to scary situations in our lives are (initially) still just plain bewildering at times…like what the disciples felt that scary night.
...”Perhaps the disciples had the same expectation. They only did what they were told. Jesus told them to get into the boat, so they did. They didn’t question the order; they simply obeyed it. They could have objected. After all, it was evening and darkness was only minutes away. But Jesus told them to get into the boat, so they did.
What was the result of their obedience? John’s crisp description will tell you:
That evening Jesus’ followers went down to Lake Galilee. It was dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The followers got into a boat and started across the lake to Capernaum. By now a strong wind was blowing, and the waves on the lake were getting bigger.— John 6:16-18
What a chilling phrase, “Jesus had not yet come to them.”
The question at this point in the story is same as everyone else’s who reads it….”Where IS Jesus?”
Lucado continues the story with these personal insights:
“It’s bad enough to be in the storm, but to be in the storm alone? The disciples had been on the sea for about nine hours. John tells us they rowed four miles (John 6:19). That’s a long night. How many times did they search the darkness for their Master? How many times did they call out His name? Why did He take so long? Why does He take so long?
I think I hear the answer in the next room. As I write, I can hear my ten-year-old daughter playing the piano. She has just begun her second year. Her teacher recently upped the ante. No more rinky-dink songs; no more nursery rhymes. It’s time to move on. Now the rhythm varies, the notes sharpen, and the key changes. It will be pleasant to the ear… someday.
But today the notes come slowly and the fingers drag and Jenna would quit if given the chance. Am I a cruel father for urging her to continue? Am I unfair in prodding her to practice? I’m not oblivious to her struggle. I can hear it. I’m not blind to her tears. I can see them. I know she’d be much happier swimming or reading or watching television.
Then why do I let her suffer? Because I love her. And I know that some struggle today will result in music tomorrow.
It reminds me of the often-told story of two maestros who attended a concert to hear a promising young soprano. One commented on the purity of her voice. The other responded, “Yes, but she’ll sing better once her heart is broken.” There are certain passions learned only by pain. And there are times when God, knowing that, allows us to endure the pain for the sake of the song.
So what does God do while we are enduring the pain? What does He do while we are in the storm? You’ll love this. He prays for us. Jesus wasn’t in the boat because He had gone to the hills to pray (Mark 6:46). Jesus prayed. That is remarkable. It is even more remarkable that Jesus didn’t stop praying when His disciples were struggling. When He heard their cries, He remained in prayer.
So where does that leave us? While Jesus is praying and we are in the storm, what are we to do? Simple. We do what the disciples did. We row. The disciples rowed most of the night. Mark says they were “struggling hard” to row the boat (Mark 6:48). The word struggle is elsewhere translated as “tormented.” Wasn’t easy. Wasn’t glamorous.
Much of life is spent rowing. Getting out of bed. Fixing lunches. Turning in assignments. Changing diapers. Paying bills. Routine. Regular. More struggle than strut. More wrestling than resting.
What we mustn’t forget however is:
God comes at the right time with the right explanation. In the right way, He appears. So don’t bail out. Don’t give up! Don’t lay down the oars! He is too wise to forget you, too loving to hurt you.
When you can’t see Him, trust Him. He is praying a prayer that He Himself will personally answer.
So until tomorrow….(as Eva Cate and Rutledge ended the Christmas Eve story with)…”I trust in love, I trust in love, I trust in love.” When we trust in love, we trust in God…love and God are one and the same.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
Yesterday it was Friday which meant it was raining. It has gotten to be some kind of joke that statistically rainy Fridays (foot wound appointment day) have become the norm…I think of all the Fridays…there have only been two that were dry.
But apparently rainy Fridays continue to bring me good improvement news …with the holidays most of my “team” has been out on the past two Fridays but I am hoping that everyone will be back next Friday and we will see what the verdict then will be. We are getting close to filling in the wound…and for me personally the pain from the normal pressure of walking has almost dissipated…I know when my foot has had enough…and I don’t push it…but just the idea that there is the very real hope that I can walk again without pain is exhilarating! I have had to be patient…but I am now seeing God’s prayers at work….as well as his disciples’…all of you!
Today is Tommy’s birthday “Deduction Dingle” …so Mandy and Eva Cate went with me to let the dogs out for a run and potty break after my appointment (at their house)…as well as leave the jar of coins collected for Tommy over the year 2018. It is a long-standing birthday tradition and one not to be broken!
…and you know I wouldn’t forget this little game today. GO TIGERS!