Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Other Side of the Storm

Peter stood, watching the waves crash against the boat. He wondered why they had been sent ahead into the storm. The others were scared, just as he was. Jesus had stayed behind to send the masses home, but Peter had wondered how He planned to follow them. Then the storm came. Peter knew this was the kind of storm that made you bring in the nets and get to the docks as quickly as possible, but they were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. Suddenly, Peter saw something in the distance standing out against the blackness of the storm. In only a moment someone cried out, "It's a spirit!" Peter squinted against the rain and the, it wasn't a spirit, it was the Lord. How was he coming across the water? If Peter could believe his eyes, Jesus appeared to be walking on the water. Out of the storm a familiar voice came across the water, "Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid." (Matt 14:27, KJV)

Jesus uttered those words in the midst of a literal storm, but today we need to hear them just as much as Peter and the rest did. When we are obedient to the voice of our Lord, there are many times that we end up in a storm, not because we have sinned, but because Jesus wants to show us that we can have faith in Him and not in our circumstances. You read that previous sentence right, I said we shouldn't have faith in our circumstances. Some of you have never thought of it that way, have you?  You are wondering how you have had faith in your circumstances, aren't you? When we are worried or when we believe that we will not overcome the circumstances, then we have placed our faith in the power of those circumstances. Many of us will look at our circumstances, much as Peter did, and decide that the storm is too big for us, so we get ready to endure it or run from it, with no thought given to prayer. No matter how cliche it may sound, prayer is the answer. When we pray, we may not always get out of the storm, but then we may. The thing is that we need to have faith in God, who has control of the storm, instead of the storm.

I have a friend that suffers in pain almost every day, but she does not dwell in her circumstances. She has come to the realization that faith in her circumstances will benefit her nothing, but faith in Christ will gain her everything. She has moments when it seems overwhelming, when fear and doubt tries to take hold, just as Peter did, but she doesn't allow those circumstances to become her god. She is an inspiration to me, because she has a devotion to serve God, in spite of her circumstances, that surpasses the run-of-the-mill Christian. Paul once wrote about a thorn in his side that God would not remove because it kept him grounded in faith. How many of us can say that we accept our circumstances, not as what controls us, but as part of the plan God has for our lives? We need to learn to have the same kind of faith Paul had when he was bitten by the poisonous snake, to know that the circumstance had no power, because Paul knew he was going to be in Rome when he died in the service of Christ. Or we can be more like Peter and the rest on the ship...filled with doubt and fear, even though we have a promise that we will get to the other side of the storm.

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