Wednesday, October 6, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Batten Down the Hatches

Hurricane Hugo, hurricane Andrew, and one of the most unforgettable storms, hurricane Katrina are some of the most devastating storms in recent history. I bring up these storms to describe the passage in Mark 4 verses 35-41 when Jesus calmed the storm. It reads, "That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" 41They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" I've experienced a Galilee squall. It's amazing how strong the wind gets. I stood looking out of our hotel room window during one of these winds and many of the mosaic tiles on the side of our balcony were missing. Probably from the frequent wind storms they get. The geographic location of the Sea of Galilee is in a valley between to hillsides. It is the perfect setting for the wind to whip through.

Now the disciples were experienced fishermen and it's likely they had experienced these before. Maybe this squall was stronger because God wanted to expose the fear in these men and to help them realize who they had been with was truly the Son of God. The men woke Jesus up, and asked him if he even cared that they were going to drown. Jesus must have been so tired from speaking all day that he didn't notice the boat rocking or it actually kept him asleep. The disciples didn't know what to think except they were going to die.

Aren't the circumstances of our lives similar to the weather? We can be cruising along on the smooth waters of life, then suddenly the wind begins to blow, the waves begin to swell and before you know it, the clouds have gathered overhead. Some of us, like the disciples start screaming, "Batten down the hatches!" when life gets stormy. It's easy to live by faith when the waters are smooth. The only way we are going to strengthen our faith is for God to stir up the weather so we can truly see His power that can preserve us in times of trouble.

I think in a spiritual sense crossing over to the other side is important in this passage. What made this storm any different? Fishing was usually done in the early morning hours when it is dark, so I don't think it was because it was dark. There was something intentional that God wanted them to know. These men had seen Jesus heal the sick and cast out demons, but they needed to experience the power that Jesus had for themselves. They needed to cross over from the "shore of fear to the other side of faith." This passage even mentions there were other boats out there with them. I think that is reminder to us that we are not alone in these storms. Others are sharing our experience too and they are watching us, as Jesus disciples, and how we get through it.

Maybe right now, you have experienced the loss of a home, a car, retirement, savings, a business, and even employment. The list goes on. You might even feel like Jesus is not concerned with your storm or maybe he's sleeping through it. But I want to encourage you that Jesus knows. Maybe you are wondering why He would allow you to have to go through this storm. Like Jesus telling the disciples to go over to the other side, maybe the Lord is telling you it's time to "go over to the other side." The other side being, no longer do I live by my own understanding, but to trust in Him completely, even if it doesn't make sense. God doesn't have to make sense to us, He can do the impossible. He loves us so much. If you are spending time with him, like the disciples did, then the question He asks is "Why are you so afraid?"

I don't know what your circumstance is right now. I have this illustration the Lord gave me about circumstance. The word circum means to go around and the word stance means a position while standing. When the squalls of life are spinning around you, Ephesians 6:14 says to stand firm! They say people, who are drowning, drown because they are panicking. When I think of the movie Titanic the people who panicked lost their lives. The ones who went directly to the life boats were saved. So while you are standing firm, waiting for the storm to pass, hold on to your life preserver, which is the Word of God. Psalm 119:50 says, "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life." In the storms of life, God's promises are our life preservers. If you are in that place today you may not have time to "batten down the hatches." Instead go get your "life preserver" that is sitting on the shelf, coffee table, in that box that is out in the garage or in the trunk of your car. It will preserve your life and keep you drowning. (Photo above is a replica of the boat that Jesus would have been on)