I love zipping around a lake in a speedy little boat. It’s fun feeling the wind whipping my hair, the sun’s rays warming my skin and the thrill of going fast. Still water churns and waves lap against the side of the boat as it races across the lake.
On a pretty, sunny day being in a boat on the lake is incredible. The water brings me peace. But on a stormy day with dark clouds, loud claps of thunder and bolts of lightning, being in a boat on a lake is the last place you would want to be. The once tranquil water now churns from the strong winds.
Jesus’s twelve disciples knew firsthand how terrifying it is to be on a boat during a storm. One day while travelling in a boat, “There arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves” (Matthew 8:24). It must have been terrifying for these disciples as they frantically tried everything they could to keep their boat from capsizing!
During this storm Jesus was sleeping. Have you ever felt like you were in the midst of a big storm in your life and Jesus was asleep? Maybe it was your parents’ divorce, an illness, the loss of a loved one, a breakup or something else very significant. You’ve cried out to God to rescue you from the storm and make it stop. You frantically tried to scoop out water from the flooded boat to save yourself because you were afraid that Jesus wouldn’t wake up in time.
I oftentimes feel this way. Since graduating from college, I’ve been in a season of uncertainty. There are times when I feel like I’m in the middle of a storm and am trying desperately to get out of it. I cried out to God to fix my problems while trying to fix them myself. Then I became angry with Him for not fixing my problems when I cried out to Him. It felt like He was asleep because all I heard was silence.
Like the disciples, I was terrified. I knew that Jesus was on the boat with me, but I couldn’t understand why He was asleep. The disciples then “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” (Matthew 8:25-26). He wanted for his disciples to trust Him to calm the waves and stop the storm rather than try to fix it themselves and be afraid.
I often wondered while reading this passage why Jesus didn’t wake up sooner. How could Jesus possibly be sleeping during a storm when the boat was being tossed to and fro by the waves. That’s crazy!
It wasn’t until I was teaching a Sunday school class on this very topic that the Holy Spirit revealed to me the answer — Jesus was able to sleep peacefully because He knew the outcome of the boat ride and that they would make it to the shore safely. We, too, must trust that our Captain knows the course our ship is on.
In addition to trusting Him during the storm, we need to step out of our comfort zone, away from safety and onto the swirling waves. A few chapters later in Matthew 14 the disciples were again on a boat “beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them” (Matthew 14:24). When they saw someone walking towards them on the sea, “They were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear” (v. 26).
Can you imagine how frightening this must have been to see someone walking towards you and having no idea who it is? “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (v. 27). Then Jesus called out to His disciple Peter to step out of his comfort zone and onto the swirling waves. Although Peter faltered when he took his eyes off Jesus, when he cried out, “Lord, save me,” Jesus immediately saved him, saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (v. 31).
That, dear reader, is exactly what Jesus wants for each of us to do! He doesn’t want us to try to fix things in our own strength and calm the storms ourselves. Rather, He wants us to step out in faith during the storms. When we do this, we demonstrate to Christ that we trust Him. It’s then that He will eventually calm the storms in our lives. His radiance is like the sun that drives away the dark storm clouds in our lives. Then set sail and trust your Captain to steer your ship to a bright and beautiful future!