And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep. And they 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. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?”Matthew 8:23-27
Are you willing to follow your leaders into battle? Many people do so blindly every day. Soldiers follow the orders of their commanding officers, trusting that the officer has the intelligence necessary to win the battle ahead. Business teams follow their own leaders into the battle of commerce, trusting that the strategy that has been communicated to them is effective and profitable. Students follow the instruction of their teachers, trusting that the education they are receiving will serve them well in the years to come.
Jesus’ disciples followed Him, and they went blindly trusting Him. And they weren’t ignorant of the dangers that potentially lie ahead. The Sea of Galilee is known for sudden storms caused by uplifts of air from the Mediterranean to the west that come in and strike the mountains and then rise up and form storms on the other side of those peaks. Additionally, the region of Israel is also known for being at the northern end of a tectonic plate that comprises all of the Sinai Peninsula to the south. This tectonic activity is largely responsible for the formation of the Red Sea that separates Egypt from Saudi Arabia, as well as the formation of the Gulf of Suez on the west of the Peninsula and the Gulf of Aqaba to the east. Peter, Andrew, James, and John all knew the potential dangers of setting out on the Sea of Galilee that could strike without warning as it was their careers as fishermen that prepared them for these dangers.
Yet, when the storm arose and the ship began to be overrun by the waters, they became afraid. And this was no small storm. “There arose a great storm” is translated from the Greek phrase “ginomai megas seismos”. In essence, we are talking about a gigantic, mega-earthquake. And Jesus was sleeping through it all. As they trembled in fear, they awoke their Master, who rebuked their lack of faith in the One who has already demonstrated His power over disease and infirmity. Then He stands and rebukes the very power of nature itself. And they stared in wonder and admiration at the fact that even the unpredictable powers of nature were at His command.
The term “ginomai” is actually a theatrical term which means “to come upon the stage” or to make a sudden grand entrance. “Surprise! I’m here!” If there is anything that 2020 has taught us this year, it’s that life is unpredictable. That is an inescapable fact. War, disease, fires, hurricanes, political unrest. Who would have predicted a year ago that everything we have experienced this year would come to pass. And yet, too often I have seen disciples who have chosen to follow the Savior cower in fear as if Jesus was not present or “asleep at the wheel.” Too many of us have put our faith in our political leaders to resolve our problems instead of crying out to the only One who can command the storm. We blame “climate change” on one another instead of the natural shifting of nature over time that has occurred for thousands of years.
We must never forget that Jesus not only got into the boat, but as His disciples we got in the boat with Him, knowing full well the dangers that lie ahead in this life. Being a disciple of Christ doesn’t mean checking your brain at the door. God can still use your career and all of the knowledge you have gained in the world to serve His kingdom and provide you with a fresh perspective of His power and authority in this life. The fishermen among the disciples knew what they were supposed to do when the storm strikes, but for some reason they believed those skills no longer mattered to the kingdom. The appropriate response was not to freak out in fear, but rather to anchor deep trusting in the mission of the Master.
If you are a disciple of Jesus, I implore you – remember that He’s on the boat with you. His presence is not negated by the arrival of the storm. Sometimes, the storm is simply a test for you to use the skills and competencies that you already have to serve the Master. Instead of running in fear to Him, try trusting in what you already know to be true. Trust that Jesus has a purpose for the pain. There is a reason that He chose the path through the storm instead of going around it. That reason is build an opportunity to trust Him and believe in what He has called you to do and that is to follow Him through the storm, knowing the dangers that lie ahead, and trusting that He will calm the storm with simply a word. Live your life in wonder and admiration of the One who can see you through it all.