It was over a decade ago (I cannot believe I can say the word decade… I feel SO OLD!) that I met two Pastors in Australia who invited me to be a missionary there to serve for 2 years. I would work with the youth and help mobilize the efforts of this new organization to represent the country and the Kingdom of God. The best part of this? I didn’t have to go to seminary after all! So I thought…
After 4 months of planning and telling everyone I was leaving, it now looked like the complete opposite. I was confused, disappointed, and even somewhat embarrassed. What do I do now? Lord, I thought that was the plan that you had for me?
It’s important to remember in these types of unsettling situations that God has a plan for your life. No matter how old you are, what you have done, or how unqualified you feel, He has that specific and unique plan crafted out for YOU!
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Perhaps right now, you are in a place of uncertainty or doubt about where you are in that plan that God has for you. Maybe you feel like you’ve deviated from it awhile ago. Or it could be that you have no idea what that plan is. Take heart! As you press into God and seek Him through it, He will reveal it. You were meant to joyfully fulfill the plans that God has purposed for you from the beginning!
I want to share with you a short yet powerful story where Jesus demonstrates how any plan set according to His will, will come to fruition. Jesus had just finished a full day of ministry as he was on a boat speaking to the people on the shoreline (Mark 4:1). Imagine the revelation that was given on that day! It was after this long period of teaching that Jesus speaks to His disciples and says,
“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.” – Mark 4:35-36
Jesus couldn’t go through the crowd on the shoreline – otherwise, they’d continue to seek Him and crowd Him out. He had to go ‘just as he was’ – baked by the sun, tired, and without an extra change of clothes or shower to feel refreshed. The only viable option: Get to the other side.
So here’s the plan. To ‘get to the other side’ means 5 miles to where they were on the sea of Galilee to get to where they wanted to go. Most of the disciples are expert fishermen who knew how to navigate through rough waters. Get to the other side, simple enough. What could go wrong?
“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped – Mark 4:37
Have you ever noticed that ‘the plan’ often comes with difficulty? What you feel the Lord is calling you to do can have trouble along the way? It seems that storms often hit us when we are set on following through with the plan that God has for us:
- Following your calling in the career that God’s given us, you could be faced with a boss who doesn’t understand you or co-workers who don’t include you
- Raising up children in the Lord and it’s difficult to be the parent that God has called you to be!
- I’m going to be dedicated to reading the Word … then the pillow looks so soft…
- Transitioning to a new season where there initially there was excitement, but now there is uncertainty
Even Jesus Himself did warn us about this:
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
If that’s the case, why doesn’t He just take away the difficulties when we want Him to?
It’s tough to say, but external circumstances are used to forge us into Christlikeness. Besides sinful choices we have made (or others have made where we are affected by it) and spiritual warfare, part of becoming mature in Christ is learning how to navigate through the stormy waters of this life. We have to learn to yield to the Holy Spirit when we are going through our struggles. Trials, difficulties, and problems can help us…
- Become stronger in the faith
- Cultivate specific fruits of the Spirit (having patience, self-control, etc.)
- Develop our spiritual gifts & use them accordingly
- Become more understanding and compassionate to those who experience similar difficulties
Since Jesus is the son of God, He KNEW beforehand that a storm was going to hit, and He still wanted to get to the other side. He had everything under control, but perhaps there was a lesson that needed to be learned for his disciples.
“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?” – Mark 4:38
The wind didn’t wake Jesus. The water splashing on the boat didn’t wake Him. It was their cries of his disciples.
What was the plan again? To get to the other side. Jesus was confident in that plan, but the disciples had to learn to be confident in His leading of that plan. He’s teaching them to have peace even if the external circumstances are chaotic. He also teaches them that sometimes, we have to learn to trust the Prince of Peace in order to have peace even if He’s silent. To hang onto the promises of God when the waves are crashing around us.
We might think Jesus is ‘sleeping’ when it comes to our situation. He doesn’t seem to be doing anything in the background while we feel like we are drowning. We may feel like God hasn’t answered us in a long time, so we are saying as well… Jesus, don’t you care if I drown? Don’t you care…
- About my tumultuous living situation?
- About my financial situation – will I have enough money for the future?
- About my family? That my kids are not walking with you?
- About my emotional well-being?
- About my future when it doesn’t seem that there are any open doors for me?
- About my health and I am in pain?
The disciples assume Jesus’ lack of response determines his lack of care. But that is not one of the characteristics of Christ, is it? His initial silence is to reveal what’s in their hearts – do they trust in God’s plan? Will they have peace in who He is and what He is doing? His reason to get ‘to the other side’ is not only to get to the destination, but something to learn along the journey… how to have faith in Him when the storm rages. He is teaching them a valuable lesson.
He [Jesus] 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!” – Mark 4:39-41
It’s only natural that the One who created the winds and the waves has the authority to make them obey. And here’s the fascinating part: the Greek word for ‘rebuked’ is the same word Jesus uses to cast out demons. Could it be that this spontaneous torrent was sent by demonic forces trying to stop Jesus and His disciples from accomplishing their plan?
It very well could be. On the other side of the lake is primarily a Gentile region where Jesus’ presence hasn’t been made known. Jesus arrives and meets ‘Legion’ – a man filled with 2,000 demons & he heals him. Because of this, the man formerly known as ‘legion’ travels to 10 cities telling everyone about what Jesus has done for Him (Mark 5:1-20). Not only was one man saved, but that man became an on-fire evangelist for Jesus. What an incredible plan God had!
Why do they say ‘hindsight is 20/20? It’s easier to look back and see what God has done once it’s over rather than when we are in it. If you are currently in the storm, trust in Jesus to give you the peace that He is going to get you ‘to the other side.’ We don’t want to become so fixated on the storm that we forget there is one who can calm it & get us through it.
As for me, I never did go back to Australia (yet). That time of uncertainty led me to seek what Jesus had for me in that season of my life. It was about 5 months later that I meet Valerie, who would later become my wife. If I would have gone to Australia as a missionary, then we wouldn’t have met. God had a greater plan for my life, even when I couldn’t understand it in the moment!
Therefore, if you’re in trouble and feel the storm raging around you, hang onto the promises of God. He has a plan for you right where you are at! As you seek Him more and more, He will begin to unfold that plan to you. Spent time evaluating where you are at with the Lord regarding the circumstances that you face. Look at who He is for He is the author of peace and find verses on peace that you can dwell on. As the Prince of Peace, He doesn’t want to keep that to Himself… He wants us to have it for it displays who He truly is through our attitudes and actions! We have nothing to fear! God has declared it, so He’s going to get you through it. Remember, the boat can’t go down, because Jesus is on board and He will get you to the other side.
 the region of the Gerasenes, see Mark 5:1
 For a wonderful example of a biblical character who was forged through difficulties to accomplish the plan God had for his life, read the story of Joseph – Genesis 37-50