Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt you had been painted into a corner and there was no way out? Where fear grabbed hold of you, and you thought, What am I going to do?
King Jehoshaphat felt that way. In his Old Testament story, his enemies had greatly outnumbered him. Then they joined forces with other enemies of Israel. They were coming to destroy him and his people, and he had no way to defend himself. There Jehoshaphat stood with the women and children, basically defenseless. His heart was gripped with fear.
So what did Jehoshaphat do? ‘Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him’ (2 Chronicles 20:3-4 NIV).
Then Jehoshaphat stood up before the assembly that was gathered at the temple and prayed, ‘Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you’ (verse 12 NIV).
That is a good place to be. Sometimes we think it is the worst place to be. I don’t know what to do. … I don’t have any money left. … I have used up all of my credit cards. Now all I can do is trust God (as though that is the worst-case scenario).
In reality, when you are backed into a corner like that and all you can do is trust God, he will get the glory when he comes through.
Jesus’ disciples found themselves in a situation like that one day, out on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had just performed his most popular miracle to date: the feeding of the 5,000. The people wanted to take Jesus by force and make him their king, and Jesus, knowing what their intent was, withdrew from the crowds and sent the disciples away, across the Sea of Galilee.
Meanwhile, Jesus went up to a mountain to pray. And as the disciples were making their way across, a fierce storm came up on the sea, a storm that was so bad that they began to despair of their lives. And though they couldn’t see Jesus, he could see them. And he was concerned for them.
Matthew’s Gospel says that he came to them in the fourth watch of the night. The fourth watch is the last part of the night, that time right before dawn. This means the disciples had probably been at sea for about nine grueling hours before Jesus showed up.
Mark’s Gospel adds this detail, which seems almost humorous: ‘[Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by’ (6:48 NKJV). It was so nonchalant. There they were, thinking they were going to die. And suddenly there was Jesus, walking on the water – as though he were about to go right past them.
Needless to say, the disciples would not let him do that. And when Jesus came on board, he calmed the storm, and immediately they reached their destination.
The point is that Jesus wanted them to call out to him. Could they believe that he would deliver them in a situation even that drastic?
The same is true for us. Jesus is waiting for us to invite him on board. Maybe we are in a storm in life. Maybe we are going through some kind of a hardship that we have brought upon ourselves because of the foolish things we have done or the mistakes that we have made in life.
Jesus is waiting for us to ask him into our lives, to ask him to come on board.
God is not only interested in the big things of our lives, but he is also interested in the small ones. Sometimes we dismiss those things as trivial and insignificant, but if they are troubling you, then they are of concern to God. I love what the psalmist wrote, ‘You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; this I know, because God is for me’ (Psalm 56:8-9).
If it is burdening you, if it is troubling you, then God is concerned about it. Nothing is too big or too small for him.
Some might say, “That is interesting, but I don’t really know that I need Jesus Christ right now. Maybe when some kind of crisis hits. Maybe when I am facing some sort of a problem. I think it is good that you Christians have found your religion and your faith in God. That is good for you. But things are going pretty well for me right now. My bills are paid. I even have some money in the bank. My stomach is full. My health is good. My future is bright.”
My response to that is be careful. Jesus told the story of a man who had done very well in business. He was so successful that he had to build bigger buildings to store all of his possessions. In fact, he said to himself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19 NIV).
But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (verse 20 NIV).
We never know when that day will come when God will say, “This very night your life will be demanded from you.” What if this were the night? What if this were your last night on Earth, and you were given no other opportunities to believe?
The same Jesus who walked with his disciples on the water in the midst of the storm, waiting to be invited into their boat, is also waiting to be invited into yours. The only thing that stops him from coming into your life is your personal invitation.