John 6: 16-21:
Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then, they willingly received Him into the boat and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
I came across this passage as I was reading the Book of John with an entirely different purpose in mind. As is often the case, the passage jumped out and stuck with me. I began to see in it some metaphoric parallels and lessons to be extracted. This is the beauty of the Living Word of God.
This remarkable story takes place as Jesus is beginning his earthly ministry. He’s already done signs and wonders, fed 5,000 people, healed a man with an infirmity of thirty-eight years, and offered a Samaritan woman living water. To say Jesus has created a stir is an understatement.
When the disciples set out to sea toward Capernaum, the Bible tells us it was “already dark” and Jesus “had not come to them.” I began to reflect on this darkness as being the condition of my heart before Jesus had come to me. Despite having grown up in the Christian faith, attending church services and Sunday school, Bible school and summer church camp, I hadn’t allowed Jesus to board my boat, i.e., my heart. Certainly, I knew all the Biblical stories about Jesus, but there was a disconnect. I had no relationship with Him. I just had head knowledge.
When I was old enough to leave my familial home and make my own decisions, I decided to explore “other options”. For a period of at least twenty years, I read everything I could in self help books. I dabbled in New Age and Eastern religions, always looking for “enlightenment”. Then, like the disciples in the boat on the sea, I began weathering a great storm over which I had little control. Things fell apart in my first marriage. Rather than bringing us together, our shared New Age religion did nothing to shore up our relationship.
At the height of the storm, when I faced the loss of my marriage, and my finances were in a shambles, when I couldn’t stand to get out of bed and look in the mirror each day, something remarkable happened. Jesus drew near my boat. I didn’t deserve this rescue. But that’s the remarkable thing about this man, Jesus. He doesn’t extend His arm and help you out of your circumstances because you deserve it. He helps you because extending grace is what He’s all about. It’s His nature.
When Jesus called to His disciples as they were quaking in their sandals, He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Scripture tells us “Then, they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.” This isn’t a typographical error or hiccup in translation. You see, Jesus has this power to calm fears and transport us to better places. Immediately.
I know He did it for me.
I know He can do it for you.
The key to this amazing change is found in four little words: “they willingly received Him”.
After my acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Savior of my life, He did exactly that. He saved my life. Things began to turn around. I saw hope in my circumstances. Unsuspecting people showed up to help me in various ways. I dug into the scriptures with a hunger to get to know Him with my heart rather than just with my head. The more I pursued Him, the more He revealed Himself to me, clearing paths and making a way for me.
At the risk of sounding corny, but always loving a good metaphor, the One who now captains my ship is Christ. Meaning, I try to live my life deferring to Him. I don’t always get it right. After all, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). But grace abounds in Christ. I will willingly testify to that. Surely, I keep receiving His goodness not because I have earned it, not because I deserve it, but because of who He is.
He extends this free gift to any and all. You can receive it too. Your only requirement is to willingly receive Him.
If you have not made Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of your life but you would like to, please say this simple prayer: “Jesus, I need you. I willingly accept you as Lord and Savior of my life. Please come into my heart and abide with me. Fill me with your grace and mercy. Amen.”
Friend, you have just been saved by grace. Find yourself a good Bible-based church and begin getting to know your Lord and Savior. Pick up a study Bible (I like the New King James Version Study Bible) and enjoy discovering this new relationship. It will take you places you never expect to go.
Happy sailing. God bless you on your journey.