John 6:16-21 (ESV)
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,
17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum.
It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.
19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,
they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat,
and they were frightened.
20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
This is a passage of scripture that often gets overlooked because it immediately follows the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand. But for the past week God has brought it to my attention several times and that can only mean one thing...He's trying to tell me something! So I finally had the time to sit down and really give it my full attention (which as a mother of 5 under the age of 10 is VERY RARE).
After Jesus fed the five thousand with the 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread, He retreated into the mountain alone because He knew this mob of people that had just witnessed a miracle would want Him to become their king against the Roman authorities. He could definitely overtake the Roman government, but this wasn't His plan...it wasn't His time. His kingdom was not to be a worldly one, but a Heavenly one and these people couldn't grasp that just yet. So while Jesus was alone in the mountains, His disciples headed to Capernaum by boat, which was a 6 mile trip. As they rowed, a storm hit.
When I'm reading a story in the Bible, I try to stop and really imagine the scene. I can picture these men in the middle of the winds and waves, rowing with all their might, struggling to see what's in front of them. Their arms getting tired from struggling to row, their faces being beaten by the whipping water. I'm sure a couple of them were wondering, "Hey! Where is Jesus for all of this? We sure could use His help right now!" Does this sound familiar to anyone? Think back over your life, over the past 5 years of your life, over the past 5 hours of your life. How many times has God blessed you? How many miracles has He performed? If you can't think of any then I highly suggest a total reworking of your thought processes. How often do we get into the pit of dissatisfication, of thinking that everyone else has it better or easier than we do, of become depressed when we have so much to live for? God does amazing things for us and in us and the very next breath seems to bring complaining and doubt. This passage in John helps me understand that no matter how "good" we may seem, we all struggle with the same issues...even the disciples did! Here they have just witnessed one of the greatest miracles in the Bible and the very next problem they are faced with brings self-reliance and struggle. They had the power of the Lord living among them. They were hand-chosen by the human form of the almighty God. They ate, slept, served shoulder-to-shoulder with the living embodiment of the creator and ruler of the universe. And here they were fighting the winds and the waves on their own. But did Jesus leave them there in the storm? Did He make them find the shore alone? Of course not! Yet I find it all too familiar that He appeared and the disciples didn't recognize Him and were even "frightened." Can you blame them? I mean, you're in the midst of waves that are overtaking your boat and all of the sudden this guy appears just strolling along on the water...seemingly not affected by the waves at all. A little unnerving, but exactly the way God appears in the middle of my darkest days. And do I recognize Him? Usually not. I usually continue to fight and suffer through the hurt and tears instead of really seeing Him and inviting Him into my "boat." We see in John 6 that when the disciples "were glad to take Him in," the boat was IMMEDIATELY at their destination. I tell myself so many times that the reason God allows hard things in our lives is to teach us something, to show us something new, to reveal Himself in a new way. So why do I keep rowing in vain with my own strength when all I have to do is recognize Him in the situation and I'll immediately be where I need to be? Maybe not at the end of my trial, but where I need to be spiritually, and isn't that our real destination here on earth???