The Waves and Wind

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I went through a hard time recently. A storm. I’m still in the midst of walking out the other side. The waves have calmed. The hurricane is over, but the rebuilding is not.

God and I are not through rumbling with it all, but there is a truth that God has been reaffirming to me over and over again. I have the strong impression I am not the only one who has ever felt tossed about, so I am going to share it with you here:

The waves and wind still know His name.

Everywhere I go lately it seems one story follows me. My daily scripture reading? There it is. Worship retreat? It’s the devotional. Group book study? Welcome to week 5! (Ever wonder how to know if God is trying to tell you something? Pray. Ask. Sink into His word. Look for patterns.)

Near the end of Mark chapter 6, the disciples have just seen Jesus come through for them, and for people in general, in some pretty big and amazing ways. He had sent them out with just the shoes on their feet and the clothes on their backs, given them power to drive out demons, and the freedom to shake the dust off their feet and move on from any place that wasn’t hospitable. And what happened? Miracles. They performed miracles and came back with amazing stories to tell of God’s power unleashed in people’s lives. He had met all their needs on the journey and done so much more.

Next they found themselves far from town in a deserted place seeking rest, only to have been followed by a crowd of thousands, a crowd who eventually got hungry. Instead of going with the simple, logical choice of sending them all home, Jesus chose to keep them near and meet their needs. He multiplied their food and fed his people.

Finally, still seeking respite from the crowds, Jesus sends the disciples into a boat to cross to Bethsaida ahead of Him. He went to pray. They started rowing.

Then the waves came. Mark says, “they were making headway painfully, for the winds were against them.” (6:48, ESV) Matthew says their boat was, “beaten by the waves.” (14:24, ESV) I have seen what a good Pacific Northwest windstorm can do to our Puget Sound beaches — giant logs tossed and broken, yards swept away, hillsides collapsed, homes battered and broken — and sitting in what is essentially a large rowboat right in the middle of it all seems terrifying.

And though I assume they were probably quite frightened, it does not say the waves terrified them. It says Jesus did.

“But when they saw him walking on the sea they thought he was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified.” (Mark 6:49-50)

Hadn’t they seen Him cast out demons? Heal the unhealable? Give them the power to do the same? Feed thousands of people with just a few loaves and fish? Yep.

And they had even seen Him calm a storm. They’d already been in a boat once that was similarly tossed by the seas. They saw Jesus speak to the sea and settle the wind. They had said, “Who can this be that even the wind and sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:41, NKJ) How could they doubt? How could they miss the face of the one they love, come to meet them in the waves?

I promise that if you could go back in time and give the twelve a survey about their beliefs regarding this Jesus they’d chosen to follow, they would have admitted faith in His power and His love. On a scale of one to ten, how likely do you think it is that Jesus will be able to cast out more demons? On a scale of one to ten, how strongly do you believe Jesus can meet your needs? On a scale of one to ten, how strongly do you believe Jesus has power over the seas? TEN, right? Always a ten.

They had such a strong record of Jesus demonstrating His power and His love for them over and over again. In fact, they had already seen Him do the exact thing they needed Him to do now.

They just had never seen Him do it quite like this. They had never been in this storm, in this boat, and He had never before walked on water. They had never had to find His face through the rain and frothy seas. Same problem, new miracle. This time He walked out to meet them, but the waves and wind still knew His name. They still obeyed.

Is it possible in our storms, when we are tossed and battered and straining to row against a contrary wind, that Jesus may show up in a way we fail to recognize? We know He has the power to do the mighty work, but we expect it to look like the work He did before.

When my own life, my own mind and heart, threatened to shipwreck me, I looked around and thought, “Where are you, Lord? I remember Your faithfulness. I call upon Your truths. We have been through storms before, so when are You calming this one?” I asked Him to come through for me and then I expected it to look just the same as always.

Over and over again as this story has surfaced in almost every area of my life possible, I have felt God say to me, “This is a new storm, a new boat, and I am doing a new thing.”

Our God makes all things new, yes? In Him we are new creations, called to sing to Him a new song. His mercies are new every morning. It goes to follow that this God who created the heavens and the earth, knit together our inmost being, is creative beyond measure, loves us to the fullest extent, is the definition of goodness, and is all-powerful, might be coming to meet us in this current storm in a way we fail to recognize. Can you imagine realizing for the first time that this man you’ve followed can calm storms? And then that He can walk on water?

There is something mighty and wonderful about God that you don’t know yet. There is a facet of His grace and love you haven’t experienced and He wants it for you.

So, we need to watch for Him. We need to pray and ask and sink into scripture. Pray for open hearts and open eyes. I am pretty sure the disciples were not even looking, so focused were they on their task and their struggle.

We know He met them anyway. And we know He will meet us. Head up. Watch.

What if we are terrified? The waves and wind still know His name.

What if we can’t recognize Him when He comes? The waves and wind still know His name.

And what if He asks us to get out of the boat altogether? He did it to Peter. He did it to me in my storm. There’s a strong chance He will do the same to you at some point. Even then, especially then, the waves and wind still know His name. They knew it from the dawn of the world, to the disciples’ storm on the way to Bethsaida, and they know it now.

****As a footnote, if you’re looking for an anthem to buoy you through your storm, check out “It is Well,” by Bethel Music. You’ll find the lyric “the waves and wind still know His name” and you’ll love it. Promise. *****