Recently, three friends and I had the opportunity to go on a twelve-mile rafting excursion in southeast Indiana. Upon arriving at our destination, we learned that the entire state was experiencing one of its rainiest seasons in years. Consequently, the additional precipitation had an adverse effect on the river. This equated to water levels four feet higher than normal and a much stronger and swifter current. But, in spite of the increased danger, we decided to embark upon our journey.
Unto the Other Side
By Vince Stegall
Prior to “setting sail,” we were put through quite an extensive training session that covered the four necessary elements of a successful rafting tour. They are: (1) One person has to take the lead, at all times. (2) Each person has his own specific set of responsibilities. (3) Without exception, everyone has to work. (4) The entire group has to function as a team. With these instructions in mind, we began and finished a very successful trip.
As I reflect back on our rather eventful trip, it reminded me of Matthew 14:22, which says, “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side…” We know that, just prior to sending them out, Jesus had performed many miracles of healing and even fed five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. So things seemed to be going pretty well for the disciples until Jesus had them cross the Sea of Galilee, without Him, all the while knowing that a storm was coming. “Yikes!”
Jesus not only knew they were headed into a physical storm, but that they would face many spiritual battles in the future, as well. That is why He sent them into the storm in the first place, so that they would learn to trust in Him when they hit rough waters. Several life lessons can be gleaned from the story of the disciples’ eventful boat trip that are very important to our present-day walk with the Lord. Let’s take a look.
Forget the Things Behind
Matthew 14:22 says, “Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side…” It seems elementary, but in order for the disciples to get to the other side, they had to actually leave the shore behind and venture into the sea. Often times, we as human beings want to hold on to our past mistakes and continually let them bring us down. But, Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13-14, how to overcome this. He says, “…I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” When I am reaching forward and pressing towards His calling on my life, I confess, I don’t have time to dwell on past failures. I am too busy working for Him!
Teamwork is Required
John 6:18-19 (ESV) says, “The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles…” The second lesson we learn is that, in life, you’ll have to work. We also learn that we can achieve many times the accomplishments of one person if we have the help and loyalty of others. Frederick F. Reichheld said, “The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.” This is true, not only in a family, but also with those around us as we travel down our specific path in life. We should express love and grace to these people, regardless of the circumstances—for we will need their help to fulfill our God-called destiny.
Storms and Trials Must Come
The next lesson we learn from Matthew 14:24 (ESV) is that the storms of life will come. It reads, “But the boat by this time was a long wayfrom the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.” No one is exempt from problems in life. They are given by God to build our faith and change us for the better. But, the Lord will be with us through the storm. One of my favorite scriptures is I Peter 5:10. It says, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” So if you are suffering right now, have patience! God is going to restore you in every way and confirm the thing He has meant for your life. He will also strengthen you during your trial and establish you back to perfect peace. Just remember, “…When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19).
Opportunities for Fear Will Arise
Matthew 14:26 says, “But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, It is a ghost! and they cried out in fear.” It is true that, in life, the opportunities for fear will come. But, Jesus was trying to build the disciples’ faith and teach them not to fear. Why? Because fear is the opposite of faith, and the just shall live by faith! Furthermore, we have absolute power over fear—through the Holy Spirit. How do we know this? 2 Timothy 1:7 states: “…God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” This is a promise to each and every one who has obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ…another life lesson well learned.
Accept Christ’s Invitation
The Bible says that Jesus actually meant to pass them by as He walked on the water. But, once they recognized that it was Jesus, Peter cried, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus simply replied, “Come.” And Peter did.
God’s word says that everyone on earth will receive, at some point in his life, an invitation from Jesus. Whether it is a still small voice or a prompt from the Spirit as we study the Word of God, He will invite us to have a relationship with Him. Christ said to us in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”I challenge you to connect with God and to obey the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Acts 2:4, 37-39 and Romans 6:3-4).
2 Corinthians 6:2 clearly tells us, “…behold, now [is] the day of salvation.” Don’t wait! Forget your past. Have faith, not fear. And serve the Lord with all of your heart. Remember, Jesus is calling all of us to get out of our comfort zone and to take our relationship with Him to a new level.
So, set sail!