Today’s chapter: Matthew 8
This past weekend I relocated from Tennessee to Michigan. The back of my truck was filled with book boxes, which needed to be taken directly to a storage unit because they had to stay dry and I had nowhere else to put them. So I HAD to get to the storage facility before the office closed at 5:00 on Saturday.
Fortunately, my wife reminded me on Friday that I’d be losing an hour during the drive because of the different time zone. I set out early enough Saturday morning to have a 90-minute cushion. I thought that would provide me with plenty of margin. But after sitting in traffic due to various accidents and encountering an unexpected road closure, I used up ALL my margin in the first half of the trip.
At 2:00 PM with 3 hours left on my personal countdown clock, my GPS told me I was still 3 hours away. I may or may not have begun exceeding the speed limit at that point.
About an hour later, I noticed my fuel gauge was getting close to ‘E’. I knew I didn’t have time to stop for gas, so I checked the onboard display and it said I could make it 150 miles before running out. I then checked my GPS to see how much farther I had to go: exactly 150 miles. Now I’m praying I don’t run out of gas AND that I don’t get stopped for speeding.
About this time, my bladder woke up and said hello. I said (out loud), “Are you kidding me right now?” My bladder reminded me that I was the one who decided to chug an entire bottle of diet green tea. I quit listening, started eating salty snacks, and decided my bladder would be prayer request #3.
I’m moving to Michigan because I’m convinced God has led me here. But now everything seems to be going wrong as I make the trip. I was a little confused. Was all this trouble some kind of sign? Could it be I had misunderstood God’s will? Why aren’t things going better?
Maybe you’ve been there before. Have you ever tried to follow God in some way and taken a step of faith, but then been bewildered when things didn’t go well? Ever tried to do the right thing and been convinced things it would lead to better times, but then they actually got worse? We expect following Jesus to lead to clear skies, so it’s puzzling when our steps of faith lead us into a storm.
In Mathew 8:23-27, the disciples find themselves on a boat in the middle of a major storm. It’s interesting to note that following Jesus had led them to this point. In fact, it was Jesus’s idea to get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake. So the disciples were in these circumstances specifically because they followed His direction. Even though things look bleak, they could know without a doubt that they were in this storm because it was exactly where He wanted them to be.
Jesus brought them to this crucial moment because He wants them to learn something they can’t learn any other way. He wants them to see and know He is Lord, even when things aren’t going well. He wants them to know they can trust Him with their fears and uncertainty. He wants their faith to be based not on their circumstances, but on His love for them.
When the going gets tough, your faith will be proven one way or the other. You’ll either become bitter or better. You’ll either take a step toward who God wants you to be or your heart will become a little bit harder.
What is happening around you is significant, but it isn’t as important to God as what is happening inside you. Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last.
So if you’re going through a trial or tough situation, don’t assume it must be because you’re on the wrong path. Perhaps you’re exactly where He wants you to be. Maybe He wants to teach you what you can’t learn any other way.
Perhaps He will speak to your storm and bring peace to your marriage, resolution to your conflict, provision for your needs, or healing for your hurts. Sometimes He moves in miraculous ways and calms the storm. But even if He doesn’t, He is always willing to do the equally incredible miracle of calming you in the storm. So keep your focus on the One who promised to always walk beside you.
What is a concern you have that hasn’t been going the way you want lately? Talk with God about it. Boldly ask Him to miraculously bring the calm and peace that only He can. At the same time, allow Him to bring calm and peace to your soul. Allow Him to teach and shape you during this season of your life. Regardless of the path that led you into the storm, know He is with you even when you can’t see Him. Keep your focus on Him.