Trouble! Hard times! Stuff! Is your life sometimes like that? Mine is. No, not all of the time but on occasion it just feels like one thing after another. One moment things seem to sailing pretty smooth then the next moment chaos. It comes out of nowhere with no or very little warning. The storms you know are coming, you can somehow prepare for and handle, and thank God, He gives us “weather warnings” of upcoming events. But it is the storms that just blow up without prior indication. The unexpected medical bill, the unexpected phone call, the routine checkup that turns into a we need to get you to the emergency room right now, the financial problems. It’s the knock on the door or phone call from the police saying there has been an accident, or a shooting. It is hearing the words” I am sorry, but we are going to have to let you go.” Trouble! We cannot escape it, try as we might. Job says in the 5th chapter and the 6 and 7 verses, “Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Great news Job, that’s just what I wanted to hear. (smile)
I can recall many times where trouble flew up like sparks in my life. When something sparks it is usually a surprise, something unexpected. Two times I was employed by Fortune 50 companies for years only to receive a pink slip at the most inopportune time, as if there is an appropriate time to be downsized from a great job. There is nothing like the feeling of thinking you have landed the job of a lifetime only to be told, sorry your service is no longer needed, especially when you are nominated for employee of the month for that company’s department. That is the scenario that happened to me. By the way, 2 weeks after being downsized, I received a certificate in the mail congratulating me for winning the “employee of the month award”. I eventually lost my home, vehicles and was homeless for a time in my fifties. How did Marvin Gaye say it in his song Inner City Blues… “makes me want to holler, throw up both my hands”.
My point is this, whether you are a believer or non-believer; do not expect to escapes storms. Storms are not a punishment, they are a natural occurrence. Yes many times they bring destruction, but they also bring opportunities for new beginnings, new ideas, new insights. Storms can be used to your advantage!
Let’s take an “nu mind” look at a “storm experience” found in Mark 4:35 – 40. (AMP)
“On that same day [when] evening had come, He said to them, Let us go over to the other side [of the lake]. And leaving the throng, they took Him with them, [just] as He was, in the boat [in which He was sitting]. And other boats were with Him. And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled. But He [Himself] was in the stern [of the boat], asleep on the [leather] cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, Master, do you not care that we are perishing? And He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Hush now! Be still (muzzled)! And the wind ceased (sank to rest as if exhausted by its beating) and there was [immediately] a great calm (a perfect peacefulness). He said to them, Why are you so timid and fearful? How is it that you have no faith (no firmly relying trust)?”
There are several points I want to touch upon:
1 – “On that same day [when] evening had come, He said to them, Let us go over to the other side [of the lake].”
2 – “And leaving the throng, they took Him with them, [just] as He was, in the boat [in which He was sitting].”
3 – “And other boats were with Him.”
Point 1 – “On that same day [when] evening had come, He said to them, Let us go over to the other side [of the lake].”
I have read or heard this passage of Scripture expounded upon many times but just the other day, the first four words jump out at me, “On that same day”. Why is it worded that way? What happened that day? So I went back to the beginning of the chapter to see how that day went up until this point. This is what I found.
We see where Jesus, at some point of the day begins to teach the multitude by the sea side. Living here in Tampa, Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, I can really visualize this day. The sun is shining, there is a nice breeze off of the water, the birds are singing… perfect. In fact I can go one better than that. About 12 years ago I was in Israel at this reported very location. I still can remember the spot, but I digress. Jesus is teaching the multitude via parables. He starts with a familiar parable of the sower sowing seed and the different types of ground that the seed lands on. In sticking with the main subject of this blog entry I will not at this time elaborate on the parable itself except to highlight lightly two of the grounds.
Fast forwarding, after teaching the multitude there came a time when Jesus was alone with His disciples and they asked him about the parable. Let’s briefly look at two of the seed/ground scenarios, by the wayside and stony ground.
Jesus begins by telling the disciple that the “sower soweth the Word”. Curiously to the multitude He says the sower sow “seed”, to His disciples He says “word”, again another lesson topic. Moving on.
Mark 4:15 – 17 “And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”
So around evening of this day Jesus said to His disciples, “let us go over to the other side of the lake”. Not let’s try to go over or let’s see if we can make it over, but He said let us, you and me, go to the other side, which implies confidence and surety, a guarantee. Here is my question to you on this first point. What has He told you about His plans for you, your life’s direction? Are you holding on to that sown “word”? Are you trusting in it and visualizing your Godly success through it even before you embarked upon the pursuing of it? Was it in a sunny “seaside” moment that He whispered the plans He has for you, to bring you to an expected end?” Plans that were just too awesome and wondrous for you to fully grasp but yet there was an “amen” that arose from the alter of your worship place. What is so glorious about it all, He is not only the planner but He also wants to go with you on this journey. “Let us”, not why don’t you, but “let us”, together. How great is that, you have company, a road trip partner, someone to commune with! And notice there is a definite destination, the other side.
Point 2 – “And leaving the throng, they took Him with them, [just] as He was, in the boat [in which He was sitting].”
First we see a leaving and then we see a taking. Sometimes to go where God wants to take you, you have to be willing to leave the multitude, your crew, your buddies, your peeps. The invitation, the directive was not given to the crowd but to His Disciples. Everyone cannot be with you on your journey. Not because they foresee a problem with it, it is just they are not meant to go with you. So who is meant to go with you? The disciples took “Him” with them as He was in the boat. Ok at this moment I hear a slowdown in my spirit. At first glance I see that the disciples took Jesus with them, on purpose and the thought comes to ask the question are you taking Him with you. But let’s have a possible “nu mind” moment. The second part of this verse says something curious. It says “as He was, in the boat [in which He was sitting].” Do you see it? The disciples did not ask Jesus to get “aboard” their boat, their instrument of travel, but he was already in the boat. Are you getting in the boat He has already procured? Are you getting “on board” His plans, His provision for your life? Or are you asking Him to get aboard your boat? Not only was Jesus in a boat but He is sitting which gives me the impression that He is ready to go and is just waiting on YOU to climb aboard. Understand once you climb aboard the boat and it set sail, you are fully committed to the ride, the journey. You just can’t say at some point that you are tired and climb out of the boat and not expect to be in some deep water without a certainty of getting back to shore in one piece. So on purpose and with purpose we must get in the boat where He is. Which leads me to my last point for this blog entry:
Point 3 – “And other boats were with Him.” Who are these people on the “other boats?” What life journey are they on? Hold on, I think I am seeing something. One aspect is they were with Him, but He was not “on board” with them. They are close enough to be followers but not close enough to be disciples. They are close enough to sit in the front row to hear the speaker but not close enough to have back stage passes to meet and interact with the speaker. That indicates a limitation. They do not experience the intimacy of His presence, just the visibility of His presence. You know those people. They come to your places of worship every Sunday, they enjoy the music, and they enjoy the speaker. They love the atmosphere and the brief moment of relief it brings to their spirit. Yet they do not make a commitment to be a disciple of Jesus. They are satisfied with going to church, but do not commit to being the Church. One of the things about following Jesus in your own boat is that you have the option to turn around anytime you want. After all, it is your boat and you are the captain of it. If I hear something that I do not like, I can turn my boat around. If He is going somewhere I do not want to go, I can turn my boat around. If I hear a more intriguing message by another, I can turn my boat around. But for the moment however, there were other boats with Him.