One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:22-25
When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind … Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together… We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land… Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board. When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea. (Acts 27:13-27)
Sometimes the storm lasts for a nap.
Sometimes you are part of a group of people so sacred they have not eaten for two weeks, being pounded in the rolling sea in the tattered remains of an uncontrolled ship barely held together.
Jesus is Lord of all.
In the midst of a hopeless situation Jesus rests secure while others panic. He merely awakes and commands and in extraordinary awe those around Him ponder a deeper sense of His character, heretofore unrevealed although always having existed. They knew Jesus. They just didn’t know Him like that. And it took a storm to see the Savior for who they weren’t, and who He was.
In the midst of a hopeless situation when all the power of Rome and the experience of seamanship failed to meet the terror of the impossible, God chose what men called a prisoner and He called a son to bring news – because His Name would be proclaimed in all the earth, this moment of hell would end by the decree of heaven. So that Caesar would hear – God would use the scum of the empire to proclaim His Name to the elite of earth. And almost three hundred people would not die because one man was part of a kingdom far more powerful than the one keeping him in chains. He was clothed by God in white not kept by man in orange. And so God speaks to him, and he trusts in God. So two weeks into their journey on what remained of a floating coffin Paul stands up, reaches to heaven and worships God for the food always there but fear prevented from consumption. The infectious hope of Paul’s relationship to God allows those around him to break bread and, in extraordinary faith, throw the rest of it away. Confident that when God speaks He delivers, the Paul destined to speak to the emperor first releases the kingdom by speaking to its frightened subjects. So everywhere he goes in any situation he finds himself there is nothing but Jesus first and Jesus only and Jesus as Lord. Paul effuses to the world that God is trustworthy and good even when all the world has done is betrayal and wrong.
Paul kept His eyes on the one true God he knew wasn’t asleep, not the three hundred people around him captivated by the terror of waiting for two weeks to drown in the next ten minutes.
You might not know when the storm will hit or how long it will last. But you aren’t called to know. You are called to trust. Neither tempest nor trial can keep you from the kingdom, because its King is with the fearing few or the hungry many in whatever storm they face. The disciples were caught in one they couldn’t predict, the Romans in one they could have avoided, but whether your storm is discovered or created know that Jesus is not intimidated by the strength of the currents but desires the faith of your heart.
In the new earth there will be “no more sea.” (Rev. 21:21). I don’t believe the Creator who gave us the beauty of the ocean is now opposed to the idea. There is no distance anymore in what God is doing – no barriers. No boundary. No fear. No separation of people from each other, or images of God from the Giver. There is coming a day when the rains won’t be stilled – they can’t even occur. But until we see the King in a world at rest we often see Him in storms the best.
You don’t have to go through hell to get to heaven. You just have to journey through earth. And the desires and will of the Father are supposed to be our prayer – heaven on earth as Jesus taught us to pray – so God’s people ought to make the transition from being afraid while Jesus is among them to bringing peace because Jesus is within them. Journeying from being a disciple on the lake to an apostle on a sea is a journey only Jesus can take you on. But at the end of it we are people who elevate the hopelessness of a drowning world by the intimate conversation with God we have – so close when three hundred people can’t hear anything but their own fears we can hear everything promised by the Father.
It doesn’t matter what storm you are in.
It matters what storm He is in.
And there’s no storm He hasn’t been in yet.