Saturday, October 1, 2016

TheStorm : The Wind Stopped

When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

Jesus does have the capacity to stop the wind. Let me say that again…Jesus DOES have the capacity to stop the wind. I believe He has every intention to still the storms of our lives. But, to be blunt, sometimes He doesn't – at least not in the way that we want him to. I can’t tell you why, but hopefully I can introduce you to this beautiful heart of Sovereignty and let you and Him figure it out together.

Jesus had just finished immediately catching Peter from swimming with the fishes (I love that word immediately). They, Jesus and Peter, have had a little interaction that I’ve just finished describing in the last entry, and they both come back to the boat. Imagine with me this scene. Probably completely soaked from head to toe, due to the waves and the heavy winds, Jesus and Peter come back to the boat that the disciples are in. Soaked more with guilt than from sea water, Peter climbs back into the boat and cowers in the corner. Sure, he was the only one who chose to be with Jesus on the waves, but he sure isn't patting himself on the back right now – he’s filled with guilt. Just like we would be feeling. It’s pretty embarrassing when we decide to do something and we fail (in our minds), especially with critical eyes in the front-row of the theatre of our life-story. Peter not only had the audience of Jesus but also the audience of the rest of the disciples. I believe there would be no amount of encouragement that would be sufficient to salve the pain that he was experiencing. But if we focus too much on this, we’ll miss what comes after. And I think this point is what we, as Christ-followers today, need to focus our attention on: Jesus calmed the storm. We have a very vivid picture of Peter desiring to retreat into a hole (if there was one on their small fishing boat) because we've all been there. But let me take you out of this ‘hole’ and focus our attention on the Main Character and the Main Point of this story. Here’s where Jesus’ Sovereignty shines the brightest.

We don’t read here that Jesus raised His hands and commanded the wind and waves to be calm (we can read that in the section of Matthew’s Gospel that I eluded to earlier – see Matt. 8:26) but it seems that by Matthew’s words the wind stopped, the lesson on the waves was finished. Even though Peter, at this point, marks himself with a failing grade (though as mentioned previously, this was not Jesus’ motivation), there is still much more to learn; not only in this section, but in the rest of Matthew’s Gospel and for the rest of his life – just like us. There is a promise that there will be many other storms, whether they will be physical ones out on the sea or emotional ones in the soul (see John 16:33. May I paraphrase these words of Jesus to read, ‘In this word you will have storms. But take heart; I have overcome the world’. He promises that because He has ‘overcome the world’, our storms will be stilled!
Note the two promises: you will have tribulation (or storms) and Jesus have overcome the world. I really believe that this is something that we need to learn in our lives of faith with Jesus. We can focus on one or the other of these promises, or see both as true and live in the light of His promise of eternity. Jesus knows we’ll have storms but He also knows that He has the capacity to still them – both the external and internal storms of our lives.

The truth is, as I have written earlier, seeing these struggles and trials we face as minimal, compared to the eternal glory waiting for us, is a great lesson and great habit that would do us very well to cultivate in this life. But even more than this, it is to believe the promise that Jesus can and will still the storm in our lives. I promise you it won’t be in your timing, but He not only has the capacity, but promises that He will. We just need to believe it.

Maybe the storm will be stilled once you've accepted that your loved one has entered into glory and you feel a peace that passes all understanding (see Phil. 4:7). Or maybe you need to surrender to the LORD that you don’t feel that storm-stilling nor do you believe you ever will, this side of heaven, because your loved-one has left such a huge void in your life and only He can comfort you in it. Both of these are ok. But I would ask you to consider the following. When Peter thought his lesson was over and he had been given the dreaded ‘Red F’ on his life-exam, Jesus wasn't finished with him yet – He still had plans for him. Jesus wasn't waiting for Peter to have it all figured out before He could use him. In fact, this treatment of Jesus towards Peter we can adopt into our broken and bruised hearts today, here and now. Jesus will do this for us.

Though they’re a little corny (and I don’t think I’d ever wear one), I like the t-shirts that I've seen that say ‘Be patient with me…God isn't finished with me yet!’ It’s true, we do need to be patient because God isn't finished with any one of us, but you know as well as I do, we need to wear an internal shirt that says the same thing – we need to be patient with ourselves.
One of the best things I have ever done in my Christian walk is reflect on Ephesians 1:3-8 and discover who we are in Christ,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blesses us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Reflect on these verses. Breathe in their truths. You, as a Child of God, are,

We are Blessed. We are Chosen. We have been Predestined. We have been Adopted. We have been Redeemed. We have been Forgiven. And we are Loved.

If all of these things are true, then Jesus stilling the storms in our lives becomes all the more real. He stills the storm, first in our hearts, because He breathes each of these glorious words into our broken souls and resurrects that which has been broken.

Let me turn all of these adjectives the other way and you’ll see how quickly the winds begin to blow into a full-blown tornado in our lives. We don’t claim who Jesus is in our lives, especially in our storms, we can often believe we are Cursed, Rejected, Left to Chance/Treated as a mistake, Discarded, Abandoned, Condemned, and Hated.
Pretty grim, isn't it?

But there’s good news.


Cursed - Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13)

Rejected - The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day (Luke 9:22)

Left to Chance / Treated as a Mistake – By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth (Isaiah 53:8, 9)

Discarded - Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4)

Abandoned - About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Condemned - Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor. Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” (Matthew 27:1-4)

Hated - He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him  (Isa. 53:3)

This, my dear friends, this is what we can put our hope in! Though the storms wale and the winds blow, we truly have an anchor for our souls and His Name is Jesus!

When God doesn't break His own silence in our storms, we can be assured that the can wage the storm because we will forever hear these words sung over us:

You are Loved because you were and will forever be Chosen. You are Mine.

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