By Rachel Stewart
“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 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?’ He 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 4:37-41
It’s been a pretty awesome summer. I have really tried to savor every moment. Now I love my job, don’t get me wrong. But I just don’t think I could be an effective teacher if it weren’t for the breaks. There’s a lot of pressure in so many jobs these days, and teaching is no exception.
When school got out in May, I was so ready for summer. I needed to get away and rejuvenate. It has been so wonderful to have that much needed mental and emotional rest. It has been such a blessing to spend quality time with my husband and daughter, work on projects, and catch up with dear friends. And it has been such a blessing to spend some much needed time with my Lord.
School starts back in a few weeks. The beginning of the school year is exciting, but as every teacher knows, it can also be very hectic. There’s so much to do. Cleaning. Organizing. Making copies. Laminating. Writing student names on everything. Managing a new class. Teaching procedures to students. Making lesson plans. The list goes on and on.
I had a breakdown the other day. I told Skip I was overwhelmed just thinking about everything I had to do. I told him I felt like I was on the shore looking out at a tidal wave that was about to hit.
Skip told me that while it was wonderful to enjoy the summer and soak up all the time with the Lord, family, and friends, I can’t stay in summer forever. He said that when it is time to go back to school, the Lord will give me the strength to navigate through everything–if I trust in Him. He said that only when I face the pressure of that tidal wave will I have the chance to put to practice all the things the Lord has taught me this summer.
Skip is absolutely right. I cannot stay on the shoreline of summer forever. As my good friend Kelley Darnell says, “God calls us out into the deep.” We have to brave the waves.
Even Jesus and his disciples had to face the wind and waves in Mark chapter 4.
Here are the things that stood out to me in that passage.
- Jesus was there on the boat with them.
- He wasn’t worried. In fact, he was sleeping.
- The disciples were focused on the waves and the wind instead of Jesus.
- The waves and wind bowed to His authority. After all, He created them.
- He was in complete control the whole time.
The waves of life will come. They come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. At some time or another, we all have to face them. But when the furious squalls come, when the waves crash, when we feel swamped, we need to remember these things. HE is right there with us in the midst of the storm. He is not caught off guard. He isn’t surprised or worried. He is on the throne and in complete control. And He wants us to TRUST IN HIM.
Here are a few practical things I want to do, not only when school starts back, but in every situation I encounter. Hopefully, this will help me keep my focus on the Lord when the waves come.
1. Remember my purpose. Jesus summed it up in two commands: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
One tip I learned from Rick Warren that I try to do every morning before I get out of bed is pray, “Lord, if I don’t get anything else done today, help me to know You better and love You more. And help me to love the people that You cause to cross my path today.” If I have spent the day loving Him and loving others, then that was a day well spent.
Love has eternal value.
2. Pray continually. I want to pray continually throughout the day asking God for advice in whatever situation I am facing. Here are some examples of things I have been trying to pray throughout the day.
“Lord, what should I say?”
“Lord, help me to hold my tongue.”
“What do You want me to do in this situation?”
“Lord, direct my thoughts and words right now.”
Sometimes I like to pause and just whisper, “Lord, I love you. Thank you for being my friend.”
3. Write down some verses that will help me stay focused on truth. I have a set of spiral index cards that I write verses on. I keep them on my desk so I have them handy to refer to throughout the day. The more truth I allow in, the more truth that will hopefully come out.
4. Look for and appreciate the little blessings. It is good to appreciate the little things. I so quickly focus on the negative stuff that happens and then I miss the wonderful blessings all around me. I want to do a better job at focusing on the good and letting go of the bad. I want to cultivate a thankful heart.
I think that the storm that Jesus and the disciples went through was a test of faith. I think Jesus was much more concerned about the state of the disciples’ hearts than He was about the unruly waves.
Sometimes the storm isn’t so much in what’s going on around us, but what’s going on inside of us. Before He calms the waves around us, He wants to calm the waves within us.
I’m learning that He is much more concerned about the condition my heart than He is about my external situation.
Are you standing on the shoreline today looking out at some big waves headed your way?
As you look out at the waves, look up. Look high above them, and fix your eyes on the One who holds the entire ocean in the palm of His hand.
Instead of magnifying the waves, magnify the Lord. Measure the size of the waves by the size of your God.
As I was working on this devotional the other day, my precious friend Brandi sent this song to me to listen to. It blew me away. How REAL and timely our God is. Brandi had no idea I was writing about waves. I was overwhelmed with emotion because this was affirmation for me that the Lord wanted me to write this. There’s just nothing like the feeling when He gives you a word and you just know that He is in it.
This song is called “It Is Well.” Don’t miss out on this beautiful song. It will bless your heart. Spend some time and worship Him today.
He is worthy of all honor and praise and glory. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
I am humbled that you take the time to read the rambling words from a very broken, sinful, messed up, struggling gal. I have a long, long, long way to go, but I love learning and growing with you. It is the highlight of my day. I am falling madly in love with this wonderful God who continually astounds me that He could love and use such a flawed individual like me. He is truly changing my life.
I would love to know some practical things that you do that help you brave the waves in your life. Please share if you have time today. Have a wonderful day, dear friend! 🙂
It Is Well-Bethel Music