Dealing with an unforeseen crisis does not bring out the best in me. I think I respond to “seen” crises much more productively as I am able to anticipate and plan accordingly for maximum efficiency. Yep……… I am a “planner”. I’m one of those people who like to make lists and check off all the goals achieved for the day. I will admit it. I get excited by achieving and accomplishing. So an unforeseen crisis catches me off guard and does not allow me to strategize for my best efforts to conquer the problem. And that is what it really comes down to. I want to conquer and overcome any challenge. I want it tied up neat and pretty to put on my shelf of satisfaction so I can admire it whenever I choose.
That’s why I am so intrigued by the story of what the disciples experienced in Mark 6:45-56. I am struck by some of the language chosen to tell this story, specifically the two times the word “immediately ” is used. I usually pay close attention to the words that are included to communicate the truths in the Bible and I often wonder why certain words are chosen. This fuels my study time to seek the understanding I long for during these moments.
In verse 45, I learn to go back to what has just happened to precede the first time “immediately ” appears and I am reminded of the miracle the disciples have just witnessed with Jesus feeding the 5,000. It is intriguing to me that such a strong word is used to transition from one story to the next and I am convinced it is not by accident. God intended it, as He does every single Word in the Bible, and I believe these two stories are meant to be connected in our understanding of what Jesus is doing and expects from all His followers.
Jesus has just shown Himself ( as explained in John 14:21) to His disciples , and to many others for that matter, revealing the extent of His power. He has granted them a deeper revelation of His identity and authority. And one thing I have learned from Him, like any great teacher, He does not inform without seeing if the new information has been fully comprehended and is ready to be applied. Oftentimes I see Him testing His followers to see if they are going to actually use what He has just given them in knowledge and experience. This is one of those times.
I also notice how it says Jesus “made” His disciples get into the boat. Another strong word chosen. This teaches me that this situation was no accident. It was planned by Him, for His disciples. They were sent off……..without Him. As evening came, they were in the middle of the lake. And then came the storm.
Matthew 14 gives added details of this event and says in verse 24 that the boat was a considerable distance from land and was buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. That is what I call an unforeseen crisis. To be in the middle of a lake, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a storm……wow! What a terrifying experience to be unable to see where to expect the waves! Certainly not conducive to planning or strategizing a way to conquer the problem.
At first glance this seems unfair, even cruel if I dare to admit. Why would Jesus send them out to this so unaware, so helpless? Or were they?
In reality, they may have been unaware and helpless, but they were not unprepared and hopeless. Jesus had already revealed Himself to them through a previous storm back in Mark chapter 4. Then they saw His power and provision during the feeding of the 5,000. Now it was up to them to use that knowledge and apply the truth to their current crisis. What did they know of Jesus that could help them now?!
There it was. That moment of application that was so desperately needed. It was not going to help them to use all their planning skills and expertise as fisherman to conquer this situation. Jesus was trying to teach them that at times, life is going to require more from His followers than what they could handle in and of themselves. Their best skills and efforts weren’t their best resource. An unforeseen crisis revealed their greatest weapon. Jesus!
Out He came to them, walking on the very waves that were so forcefully against them! Now that is a picture of Authority! He used the crisis to teach them how best to handle what was threatening them. He was reminding them that He was their greatest asset. All they had to do was cry out, and at that point we see the next “immediately” used in this story.
He answered their cry immediately! He reassured them and climbed into their boat with them. Oh what a difference!! The wind died down and they were completely amazed. Why would they be amazed? Because it says in verse 52 that they had not understood about the loaves (the miracle from before ); their hearts were hardened.
This teaches me that although I may see and experience much from Jesus, I can still be unbelieving. Not truly understanding who He is really means I am missing out on all that He is. By looking within for answers and abilities needed in crises, I rob myself of my greatest asset, an awe-inspiring Savior who is willing and eager to get in the boat with me in the middle of my storm.
He “immediately” sent His disciples out, but with every intention to “immediately ” respond to their cries with His presence and comfort. Now that is some kind of crisis management training! Hmmmm…..maybe dealing with an unforeseen crisis can bring out the best in me! It brings me Jesus, front and center!