Have you ever wondered, “Did I hear God’s voice correctly?”
I have, and I’m sure you have too. We usually ask this question, not when things are going smoothly, but when we are surprised by the unexpected. We felt like we heard God speak, and we acted. We took a risk to step out in faith.
I remember graduating from college and moving to another city to minister to college students with a campus ministry. I declined my acceptance into a Masters degree program right out of college feeling confident that this was the next thing God was inviting me to do. It ended up being one of the hardest years of my life. Nothing panned out the way I thought it would. Instead, I felt like I was led right into the middle of a big storm.
I learned a big faith lesson.
The risk to step out in faith was just the beginning, not the end.
We see this theme throughout the Biblical narratives.
God initiated with Abraham to leave his homeland to a land that God promised to show him. Abraham responded and left, and along the way, he learned to walk with God and to trust Him to fulfill the promises God had made.
He heard from God correctly and trusted, but it didn’t mean trusting stopped. It was just the beginning. He would learn to walk with God and trust in his great God to bring him to his destination.
Moses heard the directive from God to bring the people of Israel out from slavery in Egypt. But, one challenge after another followed him. He soon learned that it was not him who will deliver the Israelites out of Egypt, but God Himself. As the Egyptian chariots raced toward them from behind and as they saw the Red Sea ahead, they found themselves in a place where only God can rescue them.
Moses trusted while the Israelites complained. God performed a miracle and brought them across to the other side of the Red Sea.
God initiated with Mary, a virgin, to become the mother of Jesus through a miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit. The aftermath of saying yes to this humanly impossible and unimaginable plan of God was the possibility of losing Joseph, her fiancee and facing humiliation. She had to trust God with her future.
This trust in God’s future plans involved traveling to Bethlehem and giving birth to her first son in a stable and laying him in a manger. This trust led her and her family to flee to Egypt. Every step of the way Mary learned to trust the voice and direction of God.
Abraham, Moses, and Mary heard God’s directive. What followed was some significant bumps and challenges along the way. But, through them all, they saw God. They experienced God’s deliverance. They saw God fulfill His promises as they continually said yes.
But, we also know that the temptation to take matters into our own hands is very real. The Bible is full of stories of the real struggles that the people of Israel faced in trusting in God’s plans. If anything, we see that human hearts are prone to fear, but God invites us into faith.
One of the biggest pitfalls….
that Christians fall into is the belief that says, “If God gave the directive or the go ahead, then everything will work out easily.” This assumption is unbiblical, but we live as though it is biblical. We equate faith as believing that everything will work out quickly, efficiently, and smoothly. This kind of faith will crumble in a storm.
The disciples of Jesus experienced it too. (This story is recorded in Matthew 8, Mark 4, and Luke 8.)
Jesus, after a long day of ministry, told the disciples to get a boat ready to go to the other side. “Let us go to the other side.” Pretty clear instruction. So, the disciples did as instructed.
While en route, Jesus, tired from his day fell asleep. Meanwhile, as the disciples sailed, they met a storm. They began to panic. They woke up Jesus accusing him of not caring about them. “Lord, don’t you care if we drown?”
Jesus responded to their accusation by commanding the wind and the sea to be still. Stillness came over the sea. Then, Jesus looked at the disciples and asked, “Why are you afraid? Do you still not have faith?”
The disciples heard Jesus’ words, “Let us go to the other side,” and they quickly responded. But, as they faced a raging storm, they had completely forgotten Jesus’ words. No longer did they believe that they would get to the other side. Instead, they feared that they would die at sea.
But Jesus, undaunted by the storm slept through all the chaos until the disciples woke him up. Jesus rested securely. He did not doubt that they would get to the other side.
The disciples did not perish. Just as He said, they crossed to the other side.
Perhaps you heard from the Lord, “Let us go on to the other side.” Jesus initiated, and you responded.
But, just because Jesus initiated it doesn’t mean that you won’t face a storm. He never said, “The journey will be smooth sailing.”
So when you hit a storm, instead of wondering, “Did I hear God correctly?” or frantically trying to figure your way out, remember that Jesus is on the boat with you. Trust in Him to deliver you.
He is not unaware of the storm that you are facing.
Jesus invited you to go with him to the other side because he is utterly confident that He is able and will bring you there. Remember, the words were, “Let us go to the other side.”
One of the great temptations that we face in a storm is to assume that now it is all up to us to get to the other side. We begin to live our lives believing that getting to the other side now depends on us, not Jesus.
But, what great lie it is. What this story shows us is that it was Jesus who brought them to the other side. Without Him, they would have perished. As long as He was in the boat, it was a sure guarantee that they would arrive on the other side.
I learned that year after I graduated from college that the faith journey Jesus invited me to might lead me right into a storm. But I need not be afraid.
Because….Jesus will bring me to the other side.
So when you find yourself in the middle of a storm, make sure Jesus is on the boat with you. Trust in Him because He who initiated the movement of faith will bring you across to the other side.
Remember, it was Jesus who said, “Let us go to the other side.” We are meant to cross to the other side with Him. He is committed to keeping His word.