It was heart breaking to hear the news of the devastation Hurricane Dorian left in the Bahamas over the Labor Day Weekend. This storm hit landfall as a category 5, which was the strongest hurricane to hit landfall in the Bahamas. It hovered over the country, moving as slow as 1 mph within 48 hours. The death toll is at least 50, which is expected to rise, since more than 1,300 people are still missing. Yet for those people who have survived, it’s as if the storm is still raging. Many of them have lost everything and are in desperate need of aid. And maybe, like me, your heart has been touched in the aftermath of this devastating storm and you want to contribute to the relief efforts of an organization that’s doing great work on the ground in the Bahamas, I highly recommend donating to ADRA International.
Yet for many of us, the storms we’re facing in our lives may not be as extreme as a hurricane, but they are very real and often painful. And by now you’ve heard that you can trust Jesus in the midst of the storm, because He’s leading the journey, His presence gives you rest and He has power over the storm. Then you may have experienced the calming of your storm and a period of what felt like a mountain top experience with Jesus, only to be ushered into yet another storm. Then you heard that Jesus takes you through the next seemingly unstoppable storm by seeing your struggle and drawing close, and then walking on what you fear. And though this is comforting, a nagging question may still be lingering in your mind as it may have been for the disciples in Matthew 14:28. Didn’t they just hear Him say “be of good cheer, it is I”? So if this really is Jesus, why hasn’t He stopped the storm by now? If I find Jesus in the storm and His presence is near, then why am I still in a storm? Shouldn’t He have stopped it by now? And as Peter peers through the heavy rain and flashes of lightning at the Figure who was speaking to them, he may have wanted to verify that it was Jesus, because the last time they were in a storm with Jesus, He stopped it. So if this was Jesus, why hadn’t He stopped the storm yet? Then Peter says the unthinkable in verse 28…
After the words of Peter’s request had already escaped his mouth and then hearing the shocking reply of Jesus to “Come”, I wonder if Peter thought to himself, “What was I thinking to ask something so reckless and life-threatening!” Or was he demonstrating a radically bold faith in wanting to do what his Rabbi was doing, since this is what disciples want to do… be like their rabbi. I’ve often wondered what was it about this Figure in the storm, that they originally thought was a ghost, that led Peter to obey His command at the potential cost of his own life. And then it hit me this week. He must have recognized the sound of Jesus’ voice! And since he knew His voice, he knew His character of love. And having verified the character of the One speaking, Peter knew he could trust Him and chose to obey His command. And in response to his faith, Jesus gave him power to do what He asked Him to do. You see, sometimes the storm hasn’t stopped yet, because Jesus wants us to know that…
HE’LL GIVE US SUPERNATURAL POWER TO WALK THROUGH THE STORM
Elizabeth Talbot, of Jesus 101tv, tells the story of a man who was flying on a plane. The flight was going well, until suddenly the plane entered a storm and the people cried out in fear because of the turbulence. Yet those sitting around the man where shocked to see him smiling and even occasionally laughing during the turbulence. You see, he had on some earphones and was listening to music and then watched a comedy. While everyone else was in fear because of the storm, he was plugged into a different reality. The device that he was plugged in to had a power source outside himself that allowed him to get through the turbulence of the storm without fear! When the plane finally landed safely at their destination, can you see him leaning over to the person sitting next to him and saying, “Nice flight huh? I felt a few bumps along the way, but overall, what a nice experience.” My friends, Jesus wants you to “put on the headphones”, hear His voice, recognize His character of love and receive from Him the supernatural power to get through your storm!
Peter didn’t have the power to walk on water, especially in a life-threatening storm. But what he did have was the ability to recognize the voice of the One who said to him “Come” and he acted on it. In response to his faith, Jesus gave him the supernatural power to walk on water through the storm, just like his Rabbi. Understand that none of the other disciples had the guts to get out of the boat. Moses and the Israelites walked through the Red Sea on dry ground and again with Joshua through the river Jordan, yet no one in the entire Old Testament or in human history had ever been recorded, with witnesses, as having walked on water except in this moment with Jesus and Peter! Just let that sink in for a moment. This was a one time moment in human history and as long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, by faith, he could walk on water through the storm and to go to Jesus.
The question is, do you know His voice? Do you see in Jesus the depths of God’s love for you personally? While the storm is still raging, He’s inviting you to plug into a different reality. His voice is calling you to fix your eyes on Him by daily seeing Him revealed in Scripture. And by seeing Jesus and Him crucified, you begin to know the depths of God’s love for you. You begin to know His character of love intimately and as you spend time meditating on His word, you begin to recognize His voice. And as you focus your eyes on Jesus more and more you find your heart being stirred up in faith. Then ask Him for supernatural power from the Holy Spirit to walk through your storm and He’ll give it to you.
And though this was an amazing experience and the other disciples were watching with their mouths wide open in astonishment, the storm was still raging, the lightning was still flashing, the loud thunder was still cracking and the big waves were still splashing. And what happens next to Peter in verse 30 is what still happens to you and me…
Follower of Jesus, Husband, Father and Associate Pastor for Younger Generations at Vienna SDA Church.