“A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.” John 6:18-20 Message
So much of being grateful is connected to what we see or what we fail to see. When I cannot see what is right in front of me, or I do not truly see it for what it is, I can become ungrateful or even fearful. The men in this boat are a clear example of this.
We are told that a storm is raging all around them and the sea is churning up. This moment is a fight for survival. They were fishermen so they likely knew quite well that their efforts, although they needed to try, were no match for the rage of the sea. They were completely at the mercy of the storm. Tossing back and forth, possibly seasick, and uncertain of what tomorrow would bring, many questions could potentially be running through their minds. While all of this is unfolding, off in the distance is a figure, which only adds to their confusion and fear. What they see are crashing waves, their boat being tossed back and forth as water spills over the side onto the floor beside them, and then a terrifying figure on the water. Because their immediate circumstances were so overpowering to them, they failed to see the truth. While the waves were over their heads, they were under Jesus feet.
This makes me really ponder on a number of thoughts, Does my storm stop me from seeing the truth? Am I so overcome by my circumstances that I fail to see who is walking with me in the midst of it? Have I allowed fear to dominate my life to the place that I do not even recognize God when He is walking with me? Do I believe that my situation is above the One who is walking on the very thing that may terrify me?
I believe all of these questions are important because will I truly be grateful if I feel abandoned in the storm? Will I be grateful while being slapped by a wave of trouble, if I don’t see the One who directs that wave? Will I be grateful if I do not learn to look out past the rough waters to see the One who is walking to me and leading me to a place of rest?
Today, as I write this there is a storm raging outside. I may not be on the waters in the midst of this storm, but I do know I am sheltered and kept from the winds that blow around me. I am safe and warm, so it is easy to be thankful. However, if I were called to face the uncertainty of this storm in the cold not knowing where it might take me, would I still be able to offer thanks?
These are real life issues. Real transformational moments because at the end of the day, the storm will come and go, but will the heart of a grateful woman shine through in the midst of the sun, rain, winds, and adversity? How can we move from fear in the storm to faith? I believe it lies in recognizing Him at all times, not just in the calm and quiet moments. He is there, walking to you now, will you have faith that He is above every wave in your life?
Today I am grateful that what overwhelms my heart is under His feet. I am thankful for the reminder that there is no need to be afraid, but to simply see Him, and praise Him. For never once has He left us alone. Never Once.
Susan Craig says:February 16, 2015 at 3:58 am
Thank you Freda for stating so plainly the most obvious description of what faith in God should be-We can know truths in our minds but to trust them during times of storm when God seems distant and we feel all alone is another matter altogether. As women we can get so overwhelmed by feelings that it is difficult to engage our minds when our hearts are breaking. To praise God from a thankful heart during these times is a huge step of faith. Remembering the apostles who were singing and praising God in shackles in prison and God miraculously freeing them brings this same lesson to mind-praising and trusting God in the storms of life is a high expectation indeed. Maybe someday I will get there consistantly – with the Lord’s help – it is not impossible for any of us to reach. But maybe practicing gratitude and trust in smaller storms and seeing how He leads and directs us then will be a beginning step on the road to achieving gratitude in every storm. Some of us take a bit longer to put these truths into practice than others but praying I do get there eventually-to be able to praise God in the big storms of life is my goal and these studies have certainly been opening my mind and heart to the necessity of growth in this area of my Christian walk. Praying the promises of God in the Word of God is essential when we are in storms. Standing on the promise that God said He will never leave us or farsake us is important to recognize as a need because our first inclination is to feel alone and abandoned. So thanking Him for being with us when we are in a storm is a valid prayer for sure. Reaffirming that God is good and that His purposes are best are other things to remind our hearts and minds with when we are in a storm. Trusting that He knows everything where we only know in part is another thing we can thank Him for. Reminding ourselves that to live is Christ-to die is gain is also helpful. The spirit brings so many promises and verses to mind when we are fighting a storm that we can thank God for each blessing/promise in His word that we can stand on and claim for us. Remembering how God has been with us and guided us in the past can help us to be strong in our present storm.
Thank you Lord for all the promises in your Word that we can stand on whenever we need them. Thank you Lord that You know everything and you have plans and purposes that we may not understand but that we can trust are for the best. Thank you that there are no limits to your reach and no end to your love and care for us. Help us Lord to see You in the storms of life and help us to remember you are always with us and never abandon us at these times. Thank you Lord for Freda and her wisdom and knowledge that she is sharing with us. Bless her Lord in all that she does as she works for You faithfully sharing the gospel. Give us eyes that see,ears that hear,minds that understand and hearts that love You and others. Thank you Lord that with You,nothing is impossible. Increase our faith.
Pat McRae says:February 16, 2015 at 12:11 pm
Yes Sue I say Amen! I thank God for Pastor Freda and her studies both last year and this year and for much more. I also want you to know I am thankful for your comments. We have never met but I feel like I know you. Thank you for being part of this study each comment from everyone just gives God more to work with as we explore His Word and His desire that we always in every situation and circumstance have a thankful heart. There is nothing like having a cup of coffee with friends that love the Lord and having a little conversation even if it is just on a page. Blessings to you my friend and fellow sister in the Lord.
Susan Craig says:February 16, 2015 at 10:56 pm
Thank you Pat-I appreciate your comments as well and maybe someday we will actually sit around a table and have that cup of coffee together swapping stories and praising our Savior together. 🙂
Pat McRae says:February 16, 2015 at 11:48 am
Has your peaceful, calm, quiet sea been churned up into an angry, boisterous, churning storm? Has the wind of change started to blow and instead of blowing in a small change and blowing out again, it is blowing even harder? No storm ever comes along that it does not bring some kind of change. Maybe a summer storm just waters the grass and flowers, leaving a fresh fragrance behind that makes you smile and say “Thank You Father!” Or maybe you can’t believe the distruction! Your favourite tree lays across your yard, resting on the roof it has damaged. The flowers you planted with such care and love are all gone only broken stems remain. Maybe it is a winter storm. It has come and gone. You could go out and shovel the driveway but if you wait long enough the sun will take care of that little skift of snow. And then it could be the winter storm that just won’t quit! The drifts are high, the windows are blocked with snow, the wind blows like it wants to tare the roof off, you can not go anywhere and the thought of shovelling is enough to give you a heart attack! So easy to visualize these disciples in their boat rowing hard against the wind and waves and hardly gaining any ground. In the natural we have all witnessed the storms of nature that can produce beauty or total devastation.
But do we recognize the spiritual storms in our lives as easily? Can we actually enjoy the small storm that blows in and leaves no lasting change spiritually? Do we despise the storm that spiritually threatens to sink our sweet little comfortable boat?
As I watched the change in Layou Miracle Church begin, I witnessed that some embraced the blowing storm and some were resisting the storm of change that was blowing. It was during this time God pulled out a few of His boat accounts and layed them before me.
We have the guy in the back of the boat, head resting on a pillow enjoying the rough ride sound asleep. He doesn’t even know the storm of change is raging.
Then we have the guy in the front of the boat hiding from the storm under the deck. He knows the storm of change is roaring but he wants no part of it, so he is going to hide from it. He thinks all such storms pass quickly and are soon forgotten and things get back to normal, right?
Now how many of us are this guy! He has the oars and he is rowing for all his might. His motto is, ‘Yes I can!’, ‘Yes I can!’, ‘Yes I CAN!’. He wants to be part of the change and the more he tries to be part the further he seems to be from it. There is no resting in God’s strength and timing, it is just hard work. He is striving in the natural for something that can only be caught in the spiritual.
And the last guy in the boat is our brave, courageous Peter. He say hold me tight Lord, take me with You, help me walk on the waters of this storm. And Jesus says “Come!” One baby step after another takes him out of that storm swept boat and into a spiritual revival he had no idea existed. Oh every once in awhile he takes his eyes off the Master and the storm of change starts to overwhelm him. But as soon as his eyes refocus on the source of the change he can once again walk on the waters of change hand in hand with the Change Maker.
Today I am thankful for the storms in my life that required me to hold tight to the ‘Life Giver’. It is all these storms small or large, that taught me to hear and recognize the Voice that always says the same thing, “It is I, be not afraid!” The storms of my life have also given me a testimony that I am thankful for. I can now witness to that one hurting from rejection, wounded by unkind words, insecure, down troddened, independent because there had never been anyone they could depend on, inferior in their eyes because no one was there to encourage and let them know they had worth.
And right now I am thankful for the storms that rage around Layou Miracle Church in the spiritual realm. It is these storms that are causing people to be set free from the hurts of life, the bondages of life and the chains of slavery to the lies of the enemy. I am thankful for everyone in the boat. For the Peters that walk on water, because the rower sees and starts to think, ‘can it be that easy?’ and as he lets go of the oars just for a moment he is sure he heard, ‘try it, Yes you can!’ For that fellow under the deck as he peeks out, wondering why the boat seems quieter, more empty. Wow! they are walking on water! Oh he may retreat but with each peek he gets a little more confidence in the One who gives Courage to those who accept it. And I am thankful for the sleepy guy because he needs the Peters to shake him and let him know he is missing the very best ride of all.
So today February 16, 2015 I am thankful I can let go of the oars and take a few steps on water. I do not think I have learned to leave them down yet but praise God I heard, “Try it, Yes you can with Me!”
Jim Holmes says:February 16, 2015 at 12:07 pm
It was dark and the wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. Sometimes our lives hit a roadblock and there seems no way out of an increasingly bad day. Without being able to hold on, our life seems to be quickly reaching the brink for disaster. Our effort does little to pull us out of the turbulence that surrounds us. Fear can grip our heart when we are taken out of our norm…and we can even respond to our situation irrationally. Therefore, to see the figure of a man walking on the water toward the boat must have been a scary omen for the disciples of Jesus. It was the sound of a familiar voice saying “It is I, don’t be afraid” , that changed everything. Fear subsides. They willingly took him into their boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore. His Presence took their fear away. His Presence transcends time and space….the boat was translated to their destination, it was immediately at shore. This reminds me of times of worship, when our focus is upon Jesus, we sometimes transcend what is natural, in the Presence of the majesty of the King of kings and the Prince of Peace. Time bows in His Presence. Space bows to the One Who created it. We are changed in the glory of…His Presence. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. “…It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil.2:13) Thank you Lord, that I belong to you, that as a vessel broken in your hands, you are reshaping my life into something beautiful for you, for your glory.
Susan Craig says:February 16, 2015 at 10:44 pm
Thinking about storms brought to mind a quote from CS Lewis’ book ‘The Problem of Pain’ which I would like to share.
“I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary,contentedly fallen and godless condition,absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today,a holiday or a new book,when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction,sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then slowly and reluctantly,bit by bit,I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to posess my heart,that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ. And perhaps by God’s grace,I succeed,and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right source. But the moment the threat is withdrawn,my whole nature leaps back to the toys.”
CS Lewis paints a picture of human nature so well in this quote and whenever I am in a storm his words come back to my mind and I remember what God has taught me in past storms but the tragedy of life is in this- not that we go through storms but that these storms make the reality of our helplessness and fragility very apparent to us for awhile-but then when life goes back to normal,we forget our need for God and go back to the way we were before the storm-most of the time forgetting what was learned. We need to understand our inability to make it thru life without God before the major storms rock our world and bring us to our knees. But often it takes a tragedy in our lives to recognize our need for God. This is often why we need to experience the storms in life because they are blessings that bring us to dependence on God. Thanking God for the storms of life today where He teaches us that He will carry us thru them when we can’t carry on.
Sue Holmes says:February 17, 2015 at 1:41 am
This passage speaks to me both of the fear of the known & unknown. The answer to both is the same … Jesus.
To evade the crowd the Jesus & the disciples temporarily parted ways. The disciples took the boat out on the lake while Jesus went to the mountain to be by Himself.
Matthew & Mark give a slightly different account of this passage than John. Matthew would have written from the perspective of a former tax collector, someone educated & familiar with the political viewpoint Mark, on the other hand was a youth when Jesus carried out His ministry. John was a fisherman and knew the sea. All three accounts would give us a full picture of just what happened. Having been raised in a fishing community with a family of fishermen, I appreciate John’s voice in this.
The disciples found themselves in the middle of the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night exhausted and fighting the winds. John says that they had travelled 3 or 4 miles. That is half the width of the lake. The other accounts say that Jesus went out to them at ~ 4am. That means that this assortment of followers of Jesus got into a boat while tired from days of dealing with the crowds and, were in the middle of the Lake when a storm blew in. The winds were blowing against the boat & John tells us the wind was strong & the water was rough. John would have been familiar with such storms. He, James & Peter had fished that lake. The whole trip that should have taken just a few hours but winds were making their efforts futile at just the halfway point. I can understand their fears rising.
By this time you would think they would be prepared for anything from Jesus. By this time in my Christian walk you would think I would be prepared for anything from Jesus. What they didn’t realize was that while Jesus communed with His Father alone on the mountainside He was also watching them on the lake. They were never truly alone. And neither am I. He saw the storm as it started to gain strength. He sees my storms develop also. He waited until their own strength was exhausted and He stepped foot ON the water. He was prepared to walk past the disciples to the other side. If it weren’t for the storm they would have been there already. I think it is noteworthy that Jesus didn’t condemn them for their fear. He knew how dangerous the storm could be for a group of exhausted sailors … some experienced & some not. But He didn’t let the storm overtake them. He knew their exhaustion and I think they knew the folly of fighting this storm on their own. They knew they were lost without Hm.
I love the quote in Pastor Freda’s blog, “While the waves were over their heads, they were under Jesus feet.” It’s only when we focus on the One who walks on our stormy seas that we will see the shore … we will see our salvation.
Tonight, I am grateful that Jesus sees my storms before they blow up around me. I can picture Him & our Father on that mountainside watching the storm brew and His disciples in the midst of it. He steps out at the appropriate time to bring calm to their storm just as He does for mine.
I am grateful that no matter how strong the winds get around me, I am never out of His sight.
I am grateful that He came not to condemn the world but to save it. He didn’t walk out to the disciples to condemn them or to call them out for not having it all right. I am grateful that He comes to me and says, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.”
Susan Craig says:February 19, 2015 at 3:28 am
I also loved the statement Freda made on the storm being over their heads but under Jesus’ feet-I had never heard that statement about this story before but it certainly is very fitting-we are so easily overwhelmed by the storms maybe because we forget that Jesus comes alongside us reassuringly saying-“it’s OK-I got this.” Sometimes I feel my faith is so small when I do not really understand the fact that Jesus has the storm under His control and keeps us safe in Him-hiding in the Cleft of the Rock we are safe til the storm passes by.