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Mark 100 - Against Them



Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.


Mark 6:47,48a


Jesus has just fed about 5,000 men, not counting women and children. He handed all that food to the disciples who then distributed it to the groups of people sitting on the grass. He instructed the disciples to pick up all the leftovers, which amounted to 12 baskets. He then sends the disciples ahead while he stays behind to dismiss the crowd and pray.


Now, after this full day of the disciples being with Jesus, personally witnessing and experiencing Jesus not only as God, but as a person, they are on their way to the next stop on their itinerary. But they run into a delay.


When was the last time you ran into a delay? And how did you handle it?


I traveled a great deal in my career, collecting over a million miles on 3 different airlines. And I would just about turn myself inside out in order to avoid delays. Instead of taking flights during “normal” hours, I would wake up at wildly early times in order to take the first possible flight in the morning. This meant waking up before 4 AM to drive to the airport, take care of the car, take a shuttle to the terminal, go through security, get some coffee, go to the gate, and check-in for possible upgrade to first-class.


All this, and more, I did for one reason: to avoid delays.


But the disciples find themselves in the middle of a delay. They’re doing everything they possibly can. Remember, many of them were fishermen who were familiar with the lake, weather patterns, and the winds.


They were doing what all good male members of the species do, work harder. Not necessarily smarter, but harder. They were “straining at the oars,” they were pulling as hard and fast as they could. But very little was happening. They felt harassed and tormented by the wind, distressed that they were not making progress.


It’s one thing when you are biking with the wind is at your back. Or hitting a golf ball with the wind. But it’s an entirely different thing when you’re trying to do the exact same thing against the wind.


And a funny thing about the wind, it doesn’t change its direction or intensity quickly. When it’s going in a certain direction, it stays that way for a while. If it’s windy, it stays windy.


The disciples were straining at the oars. They were working hard, pulling with all their might, with very little to show for all their effort. They couldn’t just push the accelerator down more, burn more fuel to maintain their schedule.


So, they were pretty much stuck. They can’t work their way out of the wind. They can’t use any more strength than they already are using. There is no other route that they can take to make it easier. There is no new piece of technology, no app on their phone, that they can use to get themselves out of this jam.


At this point, Jesus is walking along the shore to meet up with them. He’s using the normal, routine way of getting to the next town. He’s not getting into an Uber, or catching a shuttle, he’s walking.


And then Jesus sees their straining. He’s watching for them. Looking for them. And then he sees them.


He’s not indifferent to them, he’s very much interested in them, in their progress, in their straining, in what’s happening in their lives. Even in this most mundane, normal act of traveling from one place to another, Jesus is interested, Jesus is watching, and Jesus acts.


I hope you find great comfort in this; I know I do. Jesus knows where he’s sent us, and our progress along the way. He sees how far we’ve gone, how much further we have to go, sees our straining.


The one who made the universe, and made us by the way, sees us right where we are. He sees not only the condition or our soul, but the position of our life. If things are going well, it’s no accident. If things are not going so well, it’s also no accident.


God is in control and desires to use everything in our life.


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


Romans 8:28


Notice that it does not say that all things are good, because not all things are good. But he uses them “for the good” if we “love him.” Yes, God can use the cracked and broken eggs in our life to make deserts, cakes, omelets, pies, and so much more.


Do you feel like life is against you? Will you open yourself up to him? Trust him to be able to use whatever is going on in our lives?

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