I am in a crisis. I am struggling with choppy waters at the moment. A number of things in my life look dead and hopeless. My lake seems to be filled with rotten fish at the moment.
My family – rotten tilapia.
My job search – rotten tuna.
My relationships – semi-rotting sardines.
There are more juicy combinations but I cannot think of any more variations of fish at the moment lol.
My worship, prayer and faith are not under the threat of decomposing but there have been ups and downs as of late. When I feel like I am a prayer warrior, my desire to worship slackens. Both affect my faith ‘levels’ and I worry about the detrimental effect that losing even a morsel of will have on God’s desire to use me for His Kingdom. I do not feel great at this moment or like I can be great on this Earth, but one thing that has kept me going is that I will be great in God’s Kingdom. So I may be a failure in this World, but in His Kingdom I am not. So it upsets me when I feel like I have jeopardised my standing in God’s Kingdom but becoming weak in the Spirit and strong in the flesh.
But it is not God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, who are at fault here. It is I.
I know something is not quite adding up and it is my trust in Jesus, my Lord and Saviour. Saviour not just in the past tense at the Cross but also in the present tense. Today. Now, even as I type ‘right this second’.
Luke 8: 22-25
22Now it happened, on a certain day that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them,
“Let us cross over to the other side of the lake”
And they launched out. 23But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.
24And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”
Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.
In the New King James Version, Jesus’ words are highlighted in red so you know it is important!
I started to question why? What relevancy do these words possess outside of just being action words: a simple command to 12 other men to get in a boat on a certain day?
We know that it was on a “certain day” that they went to the lake but not whether the event was important enough to distinguish it as ‘Lake Day’. In fact, I believe it speaks to the seemingly random days where we are faced with high winds and troubling waters a.k.a troubling times.
For me, His words here were not just for His disciples but also for those of us who need to cross over the large encompassing, seemingly vast and hopeless problems in our lives.
Jesus is saying, ‘Let you and I, conquer this issue together’
In conquering issues we must also face them, so Jesus is also pointing at us to face our issues that they may loose their majestic grip over our minds, actions, reactions and lives.
23But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.
Jesus falling asleep in the boat at first may seem like a cruel joke, as He already knew about the impending ‘danger’. However, I think that this was a test to see the disciples’ reactions, whether their instincts were indicative of disciples who were following the Messiah because of their unwavering faith that He was the Messiah.
”…They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them”
What would have been your natural instinct?
Mine would have been the same as the disciples, if not worse. However, the scripture in Jude suggests that our natural instincts are void of the Holy Spirit. It connotes to that our natural instincts are tied to our flesh, as we know the flesh perpetually opposes God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit that is in us. Being led by your flesh to commit the fleshy desires, which manifest as natural instincts, is combative to the Holy Spirit that fights our sinful flesh.
I must confess that when I initially read this passage specifically at the end when Jesus askes them “[w]here is your faith? ”, I too was questioning where the disciples faith was and deep down thought I would have done a better job at reacting appropriately.
But it is easy to read the passages, especially the ones where Jesus corrects His disciples and mentally comment on what we would have done if we were in that situation. It is another thing to be in such situations and actually live up to the hype formulated in our minds.
But we do have those moments, although not with the backdrop of the Jerusalem or the mountainous cities of Galilee. But in our everyday lives as we walk with Christ.
There are plenty of problem-infested lakes that are overwhelming to even think about, let alone plan our attack of action. And that is just it, the very fact that I mentally attempt to plan an attack of action even though I know and tell others to rely on God’s strength. There is a niggling part of me that rationalises that I should quickly put together a back-up plan just in case God does not come through within a time-frame that suits me or if He does not speak to me.
I am sure that it is insulting to God. But many of us (Christians included!) struggle with the idea of having complete trust in God for our situations means giving over complete control to Him.
Give God Power of Attorney over your life. (Can you tell I am a fan of Law and Order?) He already has such power as your creator, but in giving us free will, He asks us to serve Him whole-heartedly out of this free will so we must declare Him as Power of Attorney over our lives, freely.
God does not force His way into our lives, thoughts etc. Many of times, I have begged God to just do with me what He will: take over every single part of me because I think that left to my own devices, I will fail to please Him. So I have rationalised that He should just make me His puppet so then I can never disappoint Him if He is controlling my every move. But that is not how it works.
That is even a cop out.
The free, free will each of us has been given by God is an important facet in our understanding of faith, trusting Jesus and in our actions that evidence our trust.
Jesus could have willed or commanded His disciples on how to act during the storm but He did not.
Why? Because the free will that God has given us is a birthright, a gift, and an attribute of God given to us when He made us in His own image. Although for thousands of years people have misused this privilege for their own evil gains, its intended purpose is that we may exercise it in freely serving God and showing forth His glory, whilst having dominion over the Earth and everything in it.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion…”
With this privilege, Jesus gave His disciples an opportunity to act and then corrected them when their plan of action was unproductive.
25 Then He said to the disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?”
The Message Bible
As I said earlier, in conquering our issues by trusting Jesus to navigate us through our struggle filled, worry polluted lakes then we must also ask Him to help us rise up from our comfort zone and in most cases bring us to the lake to confront the issues that have been a stronghold in our lives for way too long.
More importantly, we need to ask Him to help us to deal with the struggles we even struggle to pray about or say out loud and not just issues that we want to deal with at a convenient time that suit us.
The struggles, addictions, habits and thoughts that our family, friends…anyone would judge us for if they knew. The issues that do not paint you in a positive light if we were to open up to others.
Their opinion of you may change and I could even go as far to say it will surely change, but your Father’s opinion of you does not change. He sees us and calls us to be more than what we think we are today, what we were yesterday and what we envision will become in the future.
It does not mean that the worse of our issues will not cease to exist, but as we get closer to God, He will bring them to the surface for us to confront, giving us the free will to confront them with Jesus. With Jesus- that is the important takeaway here.
With Jesus all things are possible. With Jesus, you and I are more than conquerors. With Jesus, we can. Without Jesus, good luck tackling the waves. You may find away to stay afloat and that is what our struggles, addictions and habits end up doing – helping us to stay afloat. Each time I drank, I was able to stay afloat of the depressive thoughts and situations troubling me at the time. On other occasions, drinking and partying would be my sub-conscious effort to numb myself to the waves before they had a chance to hit me.
Staying afloat is actually more exhausting that dealing with the issues because the issues are still there and you are only prolonging your eventual breakdown, but more importantly your recovery.
It makes sense to ask Jesus for His help; stretch forth your hand (figuratively of course lol) by stretching your faith to ask Him to help you cross your lake together. Believe that He will guide you along the troubling times as a father guides his child across a busy road. Sounds cliché, but it is true.
Ask ask Jesus ‘why can’t I trust you?’
Prayer point: ‘God, help me to remove all the unproductive thoughts, back-up plans that fester in me during troubling times. Just as You calmed the raging waters and high winds for the disciples, silence the fear and panic that wants to ensnare me during troubling times in my life.’
There is a lot more to this passage to explore than what I have discussed today. I am currently meditating on this passage and by God’s Grace the Holy Spirit will guide me in writing more about lakes and scared disciples.
Check out the song below. I am currently replaying it and declaring as the song says God is Good. Just by singing it I am also declaring that God is good despite my situation and this is an act of faith.
The most poignant section for me is when the singer, Tye Tribbett interrupts the procession and says at 3:12
“It does not make sense for you to say that with that is going in your life but still say it…’You are good!’
…your life does not match this declaration but you still sing..You are good
…it does not matter what you are going through because we know the He is still good
…that all thinks work for good”
Featured image – Lake Manpourika, New Zealand