Not Many Wise -

Faith and spirituality in a modern world

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A testing situation

A Kayak in heavy seas.
A Kayak in heavy seas.

Many years ago I was kayaking (canoeing), 5 miles out from Clacton in the North Sea.
A gale was blowing, and the sea was wild and a really testing situation.
All the waves had ‘white horses’ on them and that made my slalom canoe terribly difficult to control and keep upright.

We had decided to keep together as a pack of canoes, then, if one of us got into trouble the others could help.
But one person decided to go on ahead of us and slightly off to one side.
He reckoned he would be alright on his own and very quickly we lost sight of him in the huge waves.

I couldn’t look round much because all of my attention was taken up in combating the violent wind and waves.
After a while we saw a small lifeboat coming from the shore.
It came to the left side of us and picked up the canoeist from our group who had gone on ahead of us!

We later found out that he had fallen out of his canoe and we had paddled right past him, totally unaware of him being there!
The huge waves and spray had prevented us from seeing him, but the coastguard had been watching us from the shore and they had seen the danger.

When we got back to the shore, there he was wrapped up in a blanket, shaking violently from the cold and a little disturbed from his mishap!
We were experienced canoeists, but that chap had got too much self confidence and he had put himself in a situation which was too difficult for him to cope with.

Let’s now look at a time when Jesus Christ put His disciples into a situation, which He knew was going to be extremely tough for them.

You can read the story here:

That day when evening came Jesus said to His disciples;
‘Let us go over to the other side.’
Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat.
There were also other boats with Him.
A furious squall came up and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
Jesus was in the stern sleeping on a cushion.
The disciples woke Him and said to Him;
‘Teacher! Don’t You care if we drown?’
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves; ‘Quiet! Be still!’
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to His disciples;
‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’
They were terrified and asked each other;
‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’ “

A little fishing boat on Lake Galilee.
A little fishing boat on Lake Galilee.

Jesus putting them in that situation was a bit like the leader of our canoeing group saying to me in that gale on the North Sea; ‘I want you to go on ahead of us, so that we can’t see you!’

Why would Jesus Christ, the Son of God, want to do that?
He wanted to test them, to see whether they trusted Him, or not.
That was no trivial storm.
Those fishermen were accustomed to dangerous seas and yet they were petrified!

So this was a really difficult test, in an extremely tough situation.
How did the disciples cope with their test?

What about us?

Life can be unpredictable.
When everything is going well, there is no problem is there?

But suddenly a bad illness hits us, or someone loses their job, and the money becomes very short, which causes arguments, shouting, and bad feelings, etc.

We may attend a church, and think that we trust the Lord.
But God may test us.
The problem suddenly pushes us beyond our level of skill, or patience, and we feel very alone and exposed.
Do we put our trust in our own strength?
Or do we hear the voice of Jesus saying: ‘Trust Me. I am God. I see all things, I know all things. I am all powerful and nothing is too hard for Me. Trust Me.’

When Jesus performed His miracles, they were SIGNS.

When He calmed the storm, what do you think the sign for that miracle was saying?

It is easy to be tempted that this is a made-up story.
But it is true, it happened.

Sailing boat image: thanks to ‘The Pictorial Dictionary’
published by The Educational Book Company, London

Peter Reason

February 2012

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