I was recently reminded of this event from several years ago. It was a wonderful bright sunny summer morning and my brother, Jeremiah, best friend Pam, and I all decided to go on a canoe trip. We packed up and headed an hour north to Loudonville, Ohio to take a ride down the picturesque Mohican River. After we rented our canoe, we drifted lazily down the river. It was a pretty smooth going trip with just a few minor hiccups like having to push the canoe through shallow water and my cheapo flip flops breaking, rendering the left one completely useless. About half way through our couple hour long trip the clouds were starting to build and darken. Anyone from the east knows what that means … a thunder storm is coming.
Just as we were watching the sky, we saw the lightning and heard the thunder start rumbling. We knew then that we had to get off the river and get off fast! But where could we pull off along this thickly tree lined river? As we paddled, we saw an opening in the trees and what looked to be a pull-out for canoes. Right as the storm was about to hit, we were able to pull off and we came to find out there was a little store right there along the banks of the river. We ran inside right as the rain started coming down in buckets. The storm hit fast and fierce with winds, tons of rain, thunder and lightning. But we were safe and dry inside the security of this small shop as we waited the storm out. Within about 10 to 15 minutes, the storm sputtered out. We then headed back down the river again after bailing a couple of inches of water out of our canoe and we ended up enjoying the rest of our day floating down the river.
This reminds me of another story with a boat in the midst of a storm. Matthew 8:23-27 tells us the story. “Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?””
Didn’t the disciples realize who was with them in the boat? If Jesus wasn’t worried and even sleeping peacefully during the storm why didn’t they just take their masters lead and lay their heads down and sleep right along with him? This year there have been so many storms in my life where I, like the disciples, ran over to Jesus and said “Lord save me! Don’t you care that I am perishing?” I wasn’t taking the masters lead in these storms and resting, but just kept staring at the storms all around me.
Recently though, my focus has changed. I have stopped looking at all the wind, waves, thunder and lightning around me and started looking into the eyes of Jesus, the one in control of the wind and waves. I have been intentionally and purposely getting to truly know Jesus better. I have been seeking Him in His Word, getting up early to pray and talk to Him, and meditating on His character (like how great His mercy and love is towards me). In doing this and turning my eyes toward Him, even though the storms are still raging around me, I am gaining a peace and rest I haven’t known before. Christ has been that little shop along the side of the river on our canoe trip, the place of safety and security for all who dwell inside as the storm rages outside.
In Isaiah 43:2-3a, God states some beautiful promises for His children: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior” What promises to hold on to from a God who cannot lie, He is always with us through anything and everything we go through. He has not abandoned us, He is right there with us, what hope and peace we gain from knowing that!
As the storms rise in the children’s lives here and even at the Ministry itself, we have to make sure our focus is on our Savior resting in these storms. He is in control and we can trust Him completely! I will leave you with some words from one of my favorite hymns that sums all of this up: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
Seeking Him With You,