On my Twitter home page I follow "ESV Daily", which tweets a passage of scripture from the English Standard Version of the Bible every day.
"But we have this treasure injars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake,
so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So death is at work in us,
but life in you."
2 Corinthians 4:7-12
I shared this verse once before in this post, but I am continually drawn to it, I suppose, because it describes the Christian life so well. It's not all fun and games, it turns out. As the verse says, we are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. It's a hard road, the Christian life. Praise Jesus that we have him with us to keep us from being overcome.
Several months ago I was asked to share at an evening Bible study about what God was doing in my life. I surely could have talked about a hundred different things, or picked from several classic scriptures about God's love, protection and mercy. But, I chose to speak from Mark 4 about the time that Jesus calmed the storm. (Go here to read it if you're not familiar or if you'd like to read it again.)
One of the most powerful things to me about this passage was not that Jesus had the power to calm the storm and save his friends from certain death with His voice (although, this is remarkable and certainly not to be overlooked). The thing that struck me was the situation itself. It felt so familiar.
The disciples were sailing with Jesus. If you're going to pick a travel buddy, He's the one to pick, right? Nothing could go wrong if you have Jesus in your boat.
The scripture says, "And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling." The NIV says, "A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped." (Verse 37)
You may also notice in the passage that it wasn't the disciple's idea to go out on the boat that night. It was Jesus who suggested that they cross the water. He knew that it meant sailing right into a storm, but he led them there. This, at first, just doesn't make sense. Why would God lead us into something that could hurt us?
Pardon me if I'm gift-wrapping this too much for y'all, but there's some really profound stuff in here.
Even though Jesus suggested that they sail into a storm, he got right in the boat with them. The storm came, the disciples freaked out and called to Jesus, asking Him why on Earth he wasn't doing anything. The scripture says they woke Him saying, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
I've said the same thing.
But, Jesus had it all under control. "'Peace! Be still!' And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He then said to them, 'Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?'"
The disciples were safe, Jesus was glorified, and we all learned a powerful lesson that day about God's sovereignty over His creation. The faith of the disciples was increased.
These passages in 2 Corinthians and Mark were what I needed this morning.
I know God is with me.
I know that I will be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. Storms will come.
I know that whatever happens, He will not allow me to be crushed, driven to despair, forsaken or destroyed. The waves will not overcome me, because He is with me.
Clinging to His promises,
**Can I note here for my ol' Nazarene buddies that every time I read this passage I can't help but think of the church camp song, "With Jesus In the Boat, You Can Smile In the Storm", complete with hand motions and word drops. The silliness of the song makes it feel pretty trivial when the rubber meets the road, but I'll confess I'm still tempted to blow two puffs of air in place of the word "storm" on occasion. ;)