Mark chapter 4 gives us an account of a rather “eventful” voyage taken by Jesus and his disciples across the Sea of Galilee.
As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
What I love about this story – and about the Bible in general – is the timelessness in its relevance. No doubt, ALL of us have had one or more of these “in the middle” experiences. We set out doing something, like going (or going back) to school, starting a business or new career, taking a new path in ministry, or any number of things, CERTAIN that we are following the voice of God or pursuing our God-given passions, gifts and so forth. We start with fervor. Direction. Purpose.
But then at some point we get to the middle… Ahhh, the middle. Too far from the shore we left. Too far from the shore we’re trying to reach. That place where something called life rears its ugly head and makes us question all that we thought we knew. Loved ones die unexpectedly. Money problems arise. Children become ill… or lose their minds. Extra hours are required on a job that is already stressful enough. Class assignments pile up to your eyeballs. Turmoil erupts between spouses. These storms come seemingly out of nowhere, disrupt our peace and make us question whether we really heard God, or as the disciples anxiously did, question whether he takes notice of our condition.
Let me tell you something.
Friend, peace is not the absence of turmoil. Peace is a person – Jehovah Shalom! The Lord Himself is our peace and prosperity. He is constant, unmoved. Circumstances do not take Him by surprise or upset Him. The problem in this story is NOT the storm. Yes, the storm was uncomfortable. Storms tend to be that way most times… But the problem here is that the disciples, at least temporarily, forgot who Jesus was. Jehovah Shalom, in the flesh, was aboard the ship. I find it somewhat comical that they didn’t appear to doubt Jesus’s ability to survive the storm (despite his being sound asleep down below), but they sure doubted, temporarily, His willingness to aid in their survival. Psalm 46 tells us that the Lord is a very present help in the time of trouble. Psalm 91 tells us that those who abide in the shelter of the Most High and rest in the shadow of the Almighty do not fear… because they have absolutely no reason to. It matters not what happens around them; the Lord is their keeper! You DO NOT have to be troubled by your troubles, because Peace keeps you! HALLELUJAH!!!
If we persist in the Father’s presence, we are then able to receive REST of Him. Rest is the point of decided trust in His ability, and not our own. Rest is the place where we enter in and are refreshed by His presence. It is the place of worship, where we slow down and take time to acknowledge and hear from Him who is more than capable of showing us how to navigate “the middle.”
So if you find yourself in “the middle” today, tempted to give up or throw in the towel, regroup and remember who is aboard with you… Jehovah Shalom is with you! He does take notice! He does care! The Lord Himself is your peace and prosperity! He Himself is your rest, and His grace empowers you and provides every single thing you need to make it to your destined place! Don’t you dare let “the middle” distract and deter you into giving up! This storm is no match for God! There is so much ahead of you! God has GREAT and specific plans for you! He is WITH you and FOR you! Eyes have not seen, neither have ears heard the good things He has in store!
Keep pressing, friend! “The middle” is NOT your end!