In the Same Boat
“…And when He got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep. And they went and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing. ”And He said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
I hold the disciples in high regard. They were ordinary men with a capacity to trust God. Nothing about their stories indicate that their lives were pointed toward ministry, but at the words “follow me” they simply obeyed. The great thing is, they didn’t know the story of Jesus like we do. They didn’t really know much about who Jesus was at first, or how their lives would unfold. But, they knew that He was good and they were compelled to follow Him closely. They hung on every word He spoke, even when they didn’t understand what He was saying.
What I love about the opening bible passage is seeing the absolute panic that the disciples were going through at that moment. Their questioning reveals the rawness of their faith and how prone they still were to their humanity, even though they were so close to Jesus.
“Save us, we’re perishing” carries a heavier message than what the words present at face value. There’s a connotation there that demands and accuses “we’re perishing! Don’t you even care!?”
1 John 4:18 provides us great insight into one of the greatest, but least talked about attributes of God. It’s message that perfect love (God) obliterates all fear is widely discounted, evidenced by the sheer number of believers who choose to identify with, and even defend their fears.
The Bible passage recounting the disciples in the boat is a glimpse of both how fear is cast out, but also the wrong way of going about it. Jesus’ rebuke indicates at least two things; either the disciples should have rebuked the storm themselves, or, they never should have conceded to fear in the first place. It probably should have been both. You see, perfect love was in the boat, with them, yet, they still lacked the understanding of who He was. Their response “who is this man…?” is such an honest and revealing view of how, even the people closest to Jesus actually understood Him. It’s just my opinion, but I feel that Jesus’ rebuke carried the additional messages “you should not have reacted out of fear” and “you should have, by this point, understood that you have been given the authority to calm the storm yourselves.”
So, let’s talk about fear, or more pointedly, let’s talk about your fear(s). The reason for the fear is irrelevant (I don’t say that to be a jerk, I say that with the understanding that the source of your fear pales in comparison to the power of perfect love). You might be like the disciples and not understand the authority that you’ve been given to silence your storm, but at least they knew who to call on. Here’s the thing, though. It’s not us, but it’s the One called Perfect Love that casts out all fear. If you’ve been praying and casting and rebuking to no avail, you’ve got to turn that fear over (as often as it takes) to the one whose voice not only silenced the storm, but in doing so, removed the source of fear. Notice that Jesus didn’t just remove the fear, but the storm itself. Do not accept fear as your normal way of life. It doesn’t matter if you have a diagnosis. You have a God that refuses to bow to your diagnosis.
Many who read this might be offended by it for a few different reasons. One main reason is that they’ll justify that they have given it to God, yet they still have the fear. And in response, I’d say something like “you think you have, but you really haven’t.” People hate when that happens, but it’s true. The hard part is, they believe that, in all of the effort they’ve put in to giving it to God, that He’s responsible for taking it from them. I’ll show you the problem, and when you get this, you’ll be free from excuses.
The disciples had two very distinct times when their faith would have carried them through the storm. Their first, and best opportunity was when Jesus initially laid down for a nap. The second was when the storm developed. You see, when Jesus laid down for His nap, the disciples should have done the same, next to Him, doing as He was doing. This was their biggest mistake. If they had rested with Him, they would have arrived safely, sleeping through the storm. They would not have even known that the storm was there. Even if they would have waited to join Him until the water began to get choppy, they would have made it through safely, although they would have still initially been afraid. In these scenarios, they would have been bringing their fear into His realm, entering into His reality. Instead, they demanded that He enter their circumstance. The real heart of the issue is that they felt that they were close enough and safe enough, but they ignored the opportunity to rest with peace because peace wasn’t their focus. Their duties were. They had to get the boat across the sea, right? Well, actually no, they didn’t. Ultimately, it was the power of Jesus’ spoken word that got them safely to the other side. The disciples allowed for their natural thinking to dictate to them their responsibilities or duties during the time when they should have been at rest with the one whose voice commands peace.
I’m not at all suggesting that we neglect our responsibilities. I’m saying that we have opportunities of closeness & rest that we miss due to busyness, and we often find ourselves at arms length from Him. The disciples were in the same boat with him, only feet apart. But, the circumstance revealed the true distance that was between them.
Maybe you’re comfortable with where you are, until the next nightmare, PTSD trigger, or doctor visit… or global pandemic? Then, instead of entering into rest with Him, we react to the circumstance. It’s these moments that we accuse “Lord, don’t you care?!” and it’s only because we keep ourselves at a comfortable distance from Him. We’re close enough to be seen with Him, but just far enough away to let fear, sin, or doubt dictate our response in the moments when we should be resting in Him. What will that storm reveal in you? Are you spending time in rest with the one who calms the storm? Are you really as close as you think you are? The disciples were content in their propinquity to the one who could calm the storm, until the storm hit. In a moment, just being in the same boat was inadequate, as fear revealed their distance and lack of understanding of who Jesus really was.
Chances are, we’re all in the same boat with the disciples. We love Jesus, serve Him, and obey Him, but are we distancing ourselves with busyness and other duties and responsibilities? Are we comfortable with seeing Him at an arm’s length away? Let’s make it a point this week to establish daily periods of rest with the one who calms the storm. I’m willing to bet that as you do this, you’ll begin to notice periods of great peace, only to realize after the fact that you just rested in Him through the storm that was sent to sink you.