Friday, August 16, 2013

The Fourth Watch

“About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.” ―Mark 6:48b‒50, NIV
Waves crashed against the ship’s hull only inches from our pillows.

 “What would it take for this ship to capsize?”

“Cruise ships are built for high winds and rough seas,” my husband assured me.

Moments later, “Are you sure we’re not going to tip over?”

My husband’s words always comforted me. It was not what he said so much as the quiet confidence with
 which he said it.

As the waves continued to swell, so did my questioning. But when I sensed the confidence beginning to ebb from his answers, I quit asking.

Wide-eyed, I waited for our captain’s “All is well” to spill from the ship’s PA. The announcement never came.

I can certainly identify with the disciples’ fear: fear that shrouds God’s presence in storms. For the disciples, it was the fourth watch of the night: the blackest part of the night, the eleventh hour. Their white-knuckled hold on the oars began to slacken as the strength seeped from their arms.

Then―Jesus appeared.

He wasn’t running. He wasn’t frantic. He was calmly walking on the water. And he almost passed them by. The way he chose to come was more than the disciples could reason out. Who walks on water? Consequently, they opted to believe he was a ghost, as if that held some shred of logic.

This aspect of the disciples’ encounter with Jesus would be humorous if it was not so similar to our own experiences. We have all been blinded by fear. Fear places our focus on what could happen rather than on what is real. Ghosts are not real. Jesus is―though he does defy logic. As do the supernatural ways he chooses to intervene in our situations.

Jesus was in complete control of the elements that threatened the disciples. He could have halted the storm with a single word. But instead, he chose to speak to the disciples’ fear. “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Jesus was already master of the sea; he wanted to be master of their souls.

It takes spiritual eyes to see the supernatural ways in which Jesus intervenes in our circumstances. As long as the disciples were afraid, their perception of him would be skewed, and they would miss the reality of his presence in their storm.

Cry out to Jesus. Allow him to speak to your fears and open your eyes to his presence in your storm. Be encouraged: the source of your problem is under Jesus’s feet. The waters that threaten to overwhelm you are the same waters that will usher him to you.

Do not let him pass you by. 

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