Calming the Storm
The miraculous feeding of the 5,000 starting with five loaves and two fish on the shores of the Sea of Galilee was seemingly the end of an extraordinarily long and successful day of teaching and healing for Jesus and his disciples. But that turned out to be just the beginning of a day of miracles as Jesus sent the disciples off to the other side of the lake while he went up a mountainside by himself to pray. During our holy land trip, I learned that there is a dramatic difference in temperature between the shoreline at 680 feet below sea level and the surrounding hills which can reach 2,000 feet. This can generate strong winds funneling through the hills, whipping up high waves in the relatively shallow waters of only 200 feet.
The disciples encountered a violent storm on the lake and became very afraid. During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the water saying, “Take courage! Don’t be afraid.” Peter asked to join him but then took his focus off of Jesus and he had to reach out his hand to save him. When they climbed into the boat the wind died down and all was calm.
People through the ages have marveled at this second miracle of Jesus walking on water that night, but as we enter the eve of his birth, we pause in reverent silence to acknowledge the greatest miracle of all--that he walked on earth!
As Adam Hamilton writes, “This weekend we celebrate the birth of a child, a child who was born to be our deliverer, our King, our Lord. He came to be Emmanuel (God with us), God’s Word made flesh, the Light that would drive back the world’s darkness and the Life that would conquer death. Like the angels and shepherds, we come to see this child, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
When the storms of life come and lightning flashes, the thunder rolls across the land, the winds howl through the bending trees and the waves break over the ship’s bow, we can still be assured of calm seas as we seek the safety of the other side. God can appear to be absent in painful times, but perhaps that’s because when we’re struggling, we take our eye off of him and focus on the area of pain. That’s the time to focus on His ultimate authority over all creation and His promise to be with us always, because he has also walked in our footsteps as we strive to walk in the footsteps of that babe born on Christmas day so very long ago that was sent to calm the storm.