Stuck

11:03 AMHeather

I've worked in adoption for 20 years.  I've known far too many families who feel stuck.  Stuck between their dream of a family and the current reality.  Waiting.  I've seen few things as agonizing as a couple feeling stuck in the middle of their wait to become parents.  Like they are sitting in the middle of a lake without a paddle.  With no sight of the shore. No ending in view.  

This is what I thought about when I recently dove into John 6:16-21.  It's the story of Jesus walking on the water, also seen in Matthew 14:22-33.  I have to tell you--this journey into the gospel of John has surprised me.  Who knew that actually chewing on the stories of Jesus on earth could tell me so much about the Savior I've professed for so many years?  Hmmm.  Suffice it to say that day after day, I'm sorta slack jawed about the details I've missed all these years.  Because I honestly never bothered to really explore and study the verses outlining His life on earth.  

So, there I was.  Reading this little passage again.  And it is so rich in meaning and depth and promises and hope, and today, I feel an overwhelming need to write this blog post.  Because there is someone who needs to read what God intends for you to hear from Him.  There is someone who is waiting.  And waiting.  And you feel stuck and maybe even abandoned.  Won't you dive in with me?

First of all, because I had not really read it chronologically, all the way through, I've missed the context of this perhaps familiar story.  So picture it with me.  

Jesus had just fed the 5,000.  With five loaves of bread and two fishes.  As I remember my preacher father pointing out, this story actually says Jesus fed the 5,000 men.  We don't really know how many women and children were also there.  So, let's assume that Jesus actually fed many more than 5,000.  With 12 baskets of leftovers.  As in, one basket for everyone of his disciples.  Showing his closest confidants that He would supply for all of their needs.  And the people were amazed.  They intended then to make Jesus their king, so Jesus withdrew to the mountain by himself.  Because this was not His Father's plan. And Jesus was laser focused on doing only what the Father willed for Him.

What happens next is that while Jesus was away, the disciples set out in a boat without him across the lake toward Capernaum.  John 6:17 simply tells us that Jesus had not yet joined them.  So, off they went, in the evening.  When it was dark.  And suddenly, they found themselves in the middle of the lake with the wind blowing and the waters becoming rough.  The next verse tells us that they had rowed out "three to three and a half miles."  

I am no boating expert--but that sounds to me like these disciples were rowing against the storm for a while.  A long while.  It was dark and rough and stormy.  And I'm sorta guessing they may have felt stuck.  Stranded.  Waiting for rescue.  No answer in sight.  No sign of the shore.  Unsure what to do next.  Because they must have been getting tired.  

Don't you think?  Can you see yourself there?  Maybe the winds have picked up and the waters are rough and your emotions are swirling.  You are rowing like mad.  For what feels like a very long time.  But you are still there.  Stuck.  In the middle of the lake.  In the midst of a storm.  

Worn and weary and stuck, the disciples see something.  They don't seem to trust what it is they are seeing.  Because it looks like Jesus. Walking on the water.  Their response is that they were terrified.  It was not what they expected.  Maybe they thought their lives were passing before them and the One they'd chosen to follow was now an apparition, appearing to signal their end.  

In the midst of their fear and hopelessness and waiting for rescue, Jesus said, "It is I; don't be afraid."  John 6:20.  The following verse explains what happens next in such an interesting way--"Then, they [the disciples] were willing to take him into the boat."  I don't know about you, but I think--they were willing to take him into the boat?  Interesting choice of words.

You may have missed what happened next.  Because I had never seen it before.  

"...and immediately, the boat reached the shore where they were heading."  John 6:21b 

Here's the take-away.  Here's the thing.  You may feel you are stuck.  In the middle of the lake.  And just when things seem they can't get worse, the winds start picking up and the waters become rough.  You may even feel that God has abandoned you.  He seems silent.  He seems to be unmoving.  You don't see Him anywhere.

The truth that we see from John 6 is that sometimes God lets us go forward into a storm, where we feel we are without Him.  We find ourselves in the middle of a very rough spot and the truth is that He can show up in a BIGGER way later.  When we fear and feel terrified, He can walk on the waters and move mountains and defy the natural laws and say, "It is I!  Do not fear."  And there can be no other explanation but that it is indeed Jesus.  Showing up.  Showing off His love and rescue and care and concern.  There--against the backdrop of the storm and our desperation--we can see Jesus showing up more clearly and unmistakably than otherwise.

And we are faced with a fork in the road.  Will we invite Him--welcome Him--into the midst of our storm?  In our stuck places, will we see Him, trust Him, and be willing to take Him into the boat?  

Because here's the biggest miracle of all.  When God shows up, in His perfect timing, in His perfect way, defying all logic, blowing our minds and we are willing to welcome Him into our boat--we can "immediately reach the shore where we are heading."  In the blink of an eye, He can take us out of the rough spots and bring us to the shore, the goal, the end of the wait.  

We must be encouraged then, from this passage to remember a few things.  We must remember that while we are rowing against the winds and the water, He is interceding and acting on our behalf even when we don't see Him.  Romans 10:11 says that those who trust in Him will never be put to shame.  We can wait for our faithful God and know that He will show up in big ways.  He can miraculously appear in mind blowing ways.  We must train ourselves to look for Him, wait for Him, welcome Him.  He can bring us to the destinations He has for us.  You see, everything is subject to His power.  The wind.  The waves.  The water.  The storm. And He has a plan.  He is for us.  He loves us.  He wants to calm us and carry us through it.

So there you are.  Feeling stuck.  And all alone on the rough waters.  But, listen--keep rowing.  Keep pressing on.  Keep pursuing Him.  Keep looking for Him to show up.  Keep your eyes on the horizon.  Remember that your Savior is mighty to save.  Remember the cross.  Rest in His love and stand on His promises and refuse to be defeated.  

Because He will walk on the water to you, to rescue you.  To bring about His perfect plan, in His perfect timing, and to bring you to His shores.  God is perfectly capable of doing something that has never been done before.  He is the One who did new things, who is doing new things.  Who can do abundantly more than we ask or imagine. Who is faithful and true.  Our choice for obedience to Him, ever rowing and waiting for His rescue, can unlock so many new experiences.  New shores.  New dreams.  New faith.  New intimacy with the One who wants to be welcomed into our boats in the midst of our every storm. 

So if you are stuck, waiting for rescue, remember this.  You may not see Jesus.  He may seem a million miles away, but He is closer than you think.  And He will show up and carry you through it.  

Keep rowing, dear one.  Whether you've been rowing for three miles or three hundred miles.  Keep waiting.  Because He acts on behalf of those who wait on Him.  In the blink of an eye, the Father can take you exactly where He wants you to land.   


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