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He is with us, even through the storm

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I love the word of God. You can read the same passage for years, then, out of the blue, God speaks and reveals himself in a different way. For instance, I considered myself very familiar with the account of Peter walking on the water. However, yesterday, I saw something I’d never noticed.

This particular surface tension-defying account occurs on the Sea of Galilee, known for its storms. And this storm was one of those. The wind was so contrary to the direction the disciples were rowing that the boat was only midway to its destination after hours on the water. I’m sure the 12 were exhausted and soaking wet from the struggle, seeing very little benefit from their efforts.

Enter Jesus, walking on the waves. Through their rain-beaten, wind-blown vision, they could see him. At first, they thought he was a ghost. I probably would have assumed the same thing. I mean, who walks on water? The maker of the water does, that’s who.

Anyway, I digress. When Peter realized it was Jesus, he said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water,” (Matthew 14:28). And of course, Jesus replied, “Come.”

Most of us know what happened after that. Peter walked on the water for a few moments, but then saw he was surrounded by the tumultuous wind and waves and became afraid. He began to sink, calling out to Jesus, who immediately caught him and pulled him close.

That’s where this account came alive for me yesterday. Verse 32 says, “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” What? I’d never really noticed that the storm didn’t stop until Jesus and Peter got into the boat. I guess in my mind’s eye the waves stopped crashing overhead and the winds stopped howling the moment Christ caught Peter’s hand. But look at the verse again: “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” Jesus didn’t stop the storm for Peter. He didn’t alleviate the wind so that Peter would no longer be frightened. He didn’t make the waves any less high or daunting. Instead, Jesus walked back to the boat with Peter through the very things that had instilled crippling fear in the disciple just moments earlier.

This was a huge revelation for me. Jesus could have spoken and the caused the wind to relent and the waves to calm for Peter, but he didn’t. Instead, he pulled Peter close and showed him how to walk through the fear-provoking storm with the Savior.

Fast forward to today. We pray, expecting Jesus to stop the howling winds and buffeting waves in the storms of life. And sometimes he does. Other times — when we are struggling to stay afloat, when we feel no hope, when the storm isn’t stopping — we need to understand that not only can the one beside us stop the storm but also that he never leaves us in the midst of it.

Isaiah says it far better than I: “But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God; the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...,’ ” (Isaiah 43:1-5).

Prayer: Father, I trust you. I trust that even if you choose to not remove this storm, your presence is walking through it with me. You are holding me, protecting me, guiding my every step, keeping me above the things that would consume me. Thank you, Father, for your presence. Thank you that you never leave me, nor forsake me. Thank you that you are with me, even through the storm. I love you, Lord.”

Steve and Belinda Kirk write the “Everyday Grace” devotional for the Johnstonian News. Reach them at 919-449-5745 or sbmkax@earthlink.net.

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