Straining Against the Oars

Jesus was quietly praying, while the disciples were in huge trouble. After the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus told his disciples to climb into their boat and set sail for the other side of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus knew he could catch up with them (after all, he walks on water!). So he stayed behind on land to get a little quiet time with his Heavenly Father.

In the boat, the disciples encountered a huge storm. And they were doing everything humanly possible to make progress and get into a safe haven on shore.

The sun set as the disciples were still in the middle of the lake. It became pitch dark. The wind was driving against them and the huge waves were buffeting them.

But Jesus saw them straining at the oars, trying to get to safety.

Even from shore, Jesus, the Son of God, saw what was happening to his beloved disciples through the deep darkness. And he went out to rescue them.

Are you “straining at the oars in deep darkness” right now? Are you trying to make some small progress against the storm that is raging all around you?

Be confident that Jesus sees you.

Here’s an interesting thing, though. The Bible says that Jesus first saw the disciples straining against the oars “when evening came.” Yet, his arrival to assist the disciples is not until the “fourth watch of the night.” That is, between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Why did Jesus wait so long? Sometimes Jesus leaves us straining against the oars a while so we can clearly see that our own efforts don’t really lead to any progress. For true progress, we need his supernatural intervention and power.

And yes, we may have to be patient as we wait for him to intervene. But when he does, get out of the way… and be amazed!

“Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed…” (Mark 6:50b-51, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Sunday, February 22, is Exodus 31:1 – 33:6, Mark 6:30-56 and Psalm 25:1-7.

Lord Jesus, help me to take courage and not be afraid. The storm rages. It is dark in my heart. But you can help me. And I believe you love me enough to do so. I will get out of your way. Amaze me with your love and power, your mercy and grace, your forgiveness and your hope!

Header image based on "Oar Splash" by Townend, CC By 2.0