In Mark 6, Jesus just finished feeding thousands from a couple loaves and fillet-o-fish, then sent his disciples on ahead by boat so he could spend time praying to the Father. For his twelve guys, most likely. A little later, from the lakeshore, he saw the men out on the lake being tossed in a storm.
47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake.
Jesus watched them straining against the battering winds all night. I think he was waiting to see what they would do. (Actually, I think he prayed for God to send the storm). It wasn’t until nearly daybreak that he went ahead and crossed the lake himself.
And yet . . .
He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.
So they were in trouble and he went out to them . . . but only to pass on by?
When we’re in ship-battering, peace-stealing situations, and God doesn’t seem to be near, don’t we sometimes wonder where he is, if he’s even paying attention? Wonder what he’s doing?
How would our prayers change if we knew he was standing on the shore all along, just watching, waiting?
Waiting for what?
Immediately, he said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.
Ahh. Look at our compassionate Savior. Jesus calmed the terrified men first, then the roaring waves.
And yet . . .
They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
Why were their hearts hardened? Hadn’t they just witnessed his miraculous provision when he fed the thousands?
Maybe they suffered from the same heart condition I do: a thick-skulled, hard-hearted lack of faith. They witnessed Jesus coming through every time, yet they (I) hadn’t allowed this truth to sink in, to penetrate them (me) enough to leave a permanent imprint.
Why did Jesus wait so long to go to them? Maybe they needed to see how helpless they were so that they would grasp his ultimate power and faithfulness. Maybe they needed to invite him into their straining boat and witness his trustworthiness in a way that would score their stony little hearts, begin the softening they were going to need for the storms to come.
Truth is, I know all about hard hearts. I struggle constantly to have a heart like Jesus, so I won’t criticize these guys. I’ve missed countless chances to trust God in many a situation. Taken matters into my own hands, ran my mouth, worried. Reached for chocolate or Krispy Kreme instead of surrendering and praying, seeking the Lord’s presence and his word. The more I row against the wind, the more I realize I don’t fully trust Jesus because if I did, I’d probably be slower to stress out, pig out, zone out, criticize, complain, give in to depression, etc, and maybe a little quicker to obey his nudges to do stuff I’m not comfortable doing. (eh…is comfort an idol? Ouch.)
Sometimes . . . I despair of ever changing.
Thank God that in his grace and love, it’s not up to me to change. I only need to trust Jesus enough to invite him into the boat.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
Please, Lord – I’d like a
new heart — not the blood pumping
kind, but the kind that hungers for God
with an unbearable ache. A heart that
breaks over lost souls and only sees
people the way God sees them
A pure heart too blinded by
grace to criticize, too
saddened by sin to
(I’d like that a lot.)