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Many of us have heard the story. In fact, the Bible tells the same story three different times, with three different authors and perspectives. There are so many lessons that can be learned from this story but one that simply will not leave me alone is the lesson learned from the account in Mark 6. The other gospels tell a similar story: Jesus feeds the five thousand then sends the disciples on their away across the lake while He dismisses the crowd. The wind and waves pick up, the boat starts to sway, and the disciples struggle to navigate the waters. In their striving and straining, they see a figure walking on water and cry out in fear. Jesus tells them to relax, rebukes the wind and waves and everything returns to a normal boat ride. But the gospel of Mark makes such a subtle addition to the story that many, perhaps even you, skim over the detail without a second glance. Here is the account from Mark 6:47-50:
Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and [Jesus] was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass them by, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately [Jesus] spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Did you miss it? I missed it the first, second, tenth time, too. Mark adds to this story a small, powerful glimpse of our lives today. Jesus gives us a command to go across the lake, so we obediently go. We go head and heart first because Jesus told us to do so, and we remain focused. Focused on the things He has called us to do because there is glory to be found in what we’re doing for Him. And because those disciples were so focused on what they were doing for Him, “He was about to pass them by”…
The disciples were so focused on what Jesus asked them to do, that they almost missed Jesus Himself!
The disciples were so focused on what Jesus asked them to do, that they almost missed Jesus Himself! How many of us are so focused on reading the new study, engaging in new relationships, serving the less fortunate (which are all things Jesus might be asking us to do), yet we miss Jesus entirely? Is your achieving, reading, studying, serving causing you to miss what matters most?
Lord I do not want to miss you! I refuse to get so caught up in doing things, saying things, writing things, building things in the name of Jesus yet miss Jesus Himself. Perhaps this is you too. You are caught up in the latest and greatest thing in your life – your job, your relationship, your children, maybe even obediently doing what He’s asked you to do – but in your striving and seeking of those other things, you’re missing Him while He’s right next to you. Oh, I sincerely hope this next year we pay attention with the eyes of our hearts, looking in eager expectation for Christ’s good graces all around us.
Or perhaps you are on the other side, where the wind and waves are against you and you’re straining at the oars. Life has certainly got you down and your striving has shifted to stopping. Are you so caught up in the mire of your circumstance that you’re missing Jesus Himself, who has promised to be near (Psalm 34:18)? There is no one who penned it more perfectly than the prophet Micah when, in the midst of misery and doom he said, “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me” (Micah 7:7). Oh, that the eyes of the weary would open and we would watch expectantly for Him in trial and struggle, knowing that He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 12:23).
I refuse to get so caught up in my life circumstances, trials, hardships, cancers, babies, strokes, deaths, and stresses that I miss those “streams in the desert.” Sustenance, fortitude and strength to carry on, even in the wilderness. He is with you in your pain; don’t miss out, meet Him there.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Isaiah 43:19 says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Roughly translated: Are you paying attention? Do you see Jesus at all? Are you so subtly self-absorbed, works-absorbed, circumstances-absorbed, others-absorbed in the name of Jesus that you miss Jesus Himself? He has promised to make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert. He is doing a new thing in you this year and it begins with HIM. He is making a way to Himself, first, don’t miss it! Will He meet you in the newest devotional, latest worship song, awesome accountability group? YES, of course! But make sure you’re spending your time looking for Him first before you seek the latest, greatest, and newest.
I would encourage you in these next few days as many of us are starting fresh again for the new year, challenge yourself each morning to keep your eyes and heart open – watching expectantly for Him. How is God moving in your day? What’s He doing? Where is He guiding or prompting you? How is He healing you? What opportunities is He presenting before you? It would be a shame to close the year of 2015 having done so many things for Jesus but completely missing Jesus Himself.
Lord, may we not miss you this year. May we be so keenly aware of you throughout our day, naming those gifts one by one, submitting to your Spirit, worshiping you in the small and big, that our own sensitivity to you causes others to encounter Almighty God. Oh that we would see you, indeed. That in our abiding and ceasing of striving you will sit on the throne of our hearts and reign over our moments – and we would see you in all of them. May you delight in our attempts to bring you into the mundane and ordinary, and may we see you in all your Glory both now and forevermore. Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord, we want to see you!
May we not miss You this year.
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Image Credit: Nomadic Lass, Creative Commons. Some changes made.