Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The fourth watch

A few weeks back when we were having some lovely spring thunderstorms, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a clap of thunder and bolt of lightening that was so close it seemed to strike just outside my window. I love storms, as I've said before, so I wasn't frightened. More exhilarated than anything. But then again, I was tucked safely inside my house, curled up under a comforter, a fan beside my bed blowing a gentle breeze across my face.

It might have been a different story if I had been out on a lake somewhere, in an open boat. Can you imagine how frightening it would be to be caught out on the water, and have a terrific squall like that come upon you? I picture something akin to a scene from The Perfect Storm, or some other crazy movie where you have a gigantic wave boiling up, poised to crash over you.

The other day at church we had a guest speaker. It was an excellent sermon, and one that has been playing around in my head ever since I heard it.

It was message about faith. And patience. And timing. It was based on Matthew 14:22-32, the story of Jesus walking on the water.

Basically, to paraphrase the story, Jesus, needing some time alone to pray, had just told his disciples to get in a boat and go on ahead of him to the other side. Halfway there, a huge storm came up, and the disciples were terrified. They could no longer row, they didn't know where they were or which direction they were going; they were more than likely expecting to capsize and die.

Enter Jesus. Walking calmly across the water, which effectively freaked them out. Jesus quiets them by saying, "Hey....it's me! Don't be afraid!" And Peter, being the boisterous and impulsive fellow that he is, says, "Wow, I want to do that, too!" and proceeds to launch himself into the water, where he likewise starts gliding on top of the water. Then suddenly, he realizes, Hey, it's really stormy out here. The waves are huge. The wind is fierce. I don't think I can do this. And he looks away from Jesus and focuses on his circumstances, is overcome with fear, and starts to sink.

Of course, Jesus saves him. And then rebukes him. Then they climb back in the boat, and the storm stops. Just like that.

So, the guest speaker is reading this story, which I've heard many, many times. But he is pointing out a few things I have never thought about before.

When Jesus told the disciples to get in the boat, it was evening time. Just after supper, where He had fed 5000 people with the 5 loaves and 2 fish. So, it was probably around 7 or 8 in the evening. As Jesus instructed, the disciples get in the boat and start to row. When they are a good distance away from land, the storm comes upon them.

Did you notice what time it was that Jesus walked out on the water to them?

It was during the fourth watch.

I didn't know exactly what time that was, so I googled it....and found out that it is the time between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Between 3 and 6.

That means the disciples were out there, struggling in the storm for at least 6 or 7 hours. Jesus knew they were out there, he knew that the storm was tossing them around, yet he stayed where he was for what seemed, no doubt, like an eternity to them.

I don't know about you, but I've felt like this before. I've been in situations where the waves seemed impossibly high, where the wind was gusting so hard that I could not stand up straight, where the secure little boat of my life threatened to break apart into a million little pieces. And when the storm is not letting up, and you start to fear for your job, your children, your home, your future, your sanity, your very life, you start wondering. Maybe some worrisome thoughts start creeping in. It's never going to let up. What if I don't make it? What if things don't turn around? What if I have nothing left to hold on to?

And you think, now would be a great time for Jesus to show up. Come on, Jesus! I'm here, in this little boat, in between two impossibly huge waves. See me? Down here? About to go under? Yeah....anytime would be fine with me, if you'd like to come along. Maybe calm things down a little. The second watch has come and gone....it's the third watch already....Jesus!

And yet He bides His time. Not because He doesn't see us. Oh, He sees us. I keep reminding myself.....He sees me. Right now, right in this struggle I'm in. He knows the situation, and He knows the beautiful outcome that is in store. He is waiting to see my true character revealed. Will I succumb to the anxiety and the panic that waits to invade my mind? Will I keep my eyes on Him, knowing that the storm is nothing, nothing in His mighty hand? Will I remember that above all, He is holy, and deserving of my adoration and praise, even in the darkest night?

So in this fourth watch, I cling to Him. No matter that the storm is getting fiercer, or that the boat is rocking a little more violently. I know He's going to come through for me. If it were up to me, I'd have Him show up in the first watch, right away, before things even have a chance to get crazy. But so often, He doesn't. He waits, wanting us to experience how wonderful His peace can be in the midst of it.

So, Jesus. My Rock, the Giver of Peace. It's the fourth watch now. I am expecting, believing....I know You're going to show up anytime.

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well
It is well with my soul.


Colored With Memories said...

Well thought out post...I really enjoyed reading it!

Tracey said...

Very good! Yes, it's amazing that even though I went through hard times emotionallly with all this infertility garbage I know we are on the path that God wants us on because I am calm now.....I don't feel emotionally drained anymore and I'm not sad...He saw me through and has even made me patient about the whole process...He definately held me through the 4th watch. I feel good and ONLY GOD COULD HAVE DONE THAT! GOD BLESS!!!

Wendi said...

This touched me so much! I stopped over for a visit to thank you for your kind comment on my blog, your sweet words of encouragement to a stranger... And I come away with such wisdom.
I do thank you. I have been truly overwhelmed with love from family and friends and it has been a balm to my weary soul.
You have a lovely blog!

Elena said...

This post is great and reminds me of the song that was sung when my bridesmaids marched down the aisle at our wedding.

I Will Wait by Twila Paris

I will wait on the Lord
I will wait for His word
Because I fear His holy name
I will wait
I will wait
I will wait on the Lord
I will wait for His word
Before I move
Before I speak
Perfeect wisdom I will seek
And I will wait
As long as it takes
I will wait on the Lord
I will wait on the Lord

This song is beautiful and has a wonderful melody.

Erin K. said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog today! My little girl is almost two now, and from skimming a few of your posts, I think our two girls would get along quite well. :-D I've enjoyed reading you posts and will definitely be adding you to my list of favorites!

Carolina Mama said...

Congratulations!! You won the "WinItWednesday" at http://CarolinaMama1.blogspot.com. Enjoy your Lisa Leonard Desing. It's wonderful! And come back to visit and reenter a Win It Wednesday again. :) Nice post here! We just drove through a storm here today.

Blessings From Above said...

Wow, beautiful post! Thanks for making me stop and think.

IA. said...

This post is very inspiring and thought-provoking. We always know it's better to let go and let God, but when the storm comes, we forget. I'm thankful God is faithful, and ever-patient with us, working with us, in us, and through us, to a wonderful faith experience with Him!

Jenn said...

I really enjoyed this post - thanks for sharing what God placed on your heart.