“What’s in your boat?” – MD Issue #42

A popular advertisement today asks the question, “What’s in your wallet?”  A similar question that could be asked of the Lord’s disciples is, “What’s in your boat?”   The question refers to the followers of Jesus while in the boat being tossed around on the tumultuous sea in Matthew 14:22-32.  

Jesus just hit a ‘homerun miracle’ as He fed well over 5,000+ people who were spellbound by His preaching and teaching.  They were getting hungry, but they were quite a distance from any nearby town that contained enough food for this crowd. The disciples found themselves front stage in this dilemma.  They witnessed everything Jesus did in feeding the hungry 5,000+. If He could feed that many people, then He would be worth following and having confidence in. You’d think that His miracle would eradicate any fears that might be lurking in their hearts.  But that is sooo incorrect!

After completing the miracle of the grandiose meal, Jesus told His disciples to get in the boat and meet Him on the other side of the lake. While Jesus spent some alone time on land, the disciples met a fierce storm as they crossed the lake, that shook them down to their very souls. Strong winds and high waves quickly captured their attention! To them, the best place to be at that moment was in the boat. As they were wondering if they would make it to the shore, they saw from a distance what looked like a ghost walking on the water. Fear struck them deep in their hearts. In fact, the word ‘fear’, or a derivative of the word, Matthew uses seven times in this passage.  

Many of us teach this story with Peter in mind – the Man of Faith, walking on the water! There is nothing wrong with that approach, but let’s look at this from a slightly different angle. Peter jumps out; who is left in the boat?  Why didn’t the rest of them jump out? Because of FEAR! For one reason or another they were frozen with fear! To them, life security and their comfort zone was in the boat, not outside in the water!

I’m in no way minimizing the stress of anxiety, nor judging those who are struggling with fears; it is certainly a portion of life to reckon with. However, for the disciples, it was easy for them to stay in the boat while watching Peter take two steps, then sink. “Ah ha Peter, we told you to stay in the boat!”

Ok, where’s this leading us?  Let’s review for a moment – the disciples were rebounding from a mind-blowing miracle . . . feeding over 5,000+ people with five loaves and two fish! Like, who does that?  So, they should have been on a ‘spiritual high, loads of faith, and lots of courage!’.  But they weren’t. To them, they were safer in the boat.  They seemed to have had a memory loss in recalling what just happened with the feeding of such a large crowd.

So, what’s in your boat? What fears do you battle with that keep you there. We could do so much more for (and with) the Lord Jesus if we only relied on Him instead of on our feelings. May I suggest that we look at Romans 12:1,2, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”   I also think Philippians 4:6, 7 would be of great help to us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

There are plenty of other verses that admonish us as His disciples to cast off fear and put on His strength. Take some time in your daily Bible study to look up some of these precious gems. Meditate on and apply them to your life as you ‘jump out of your boat’ and find the true meaning of serving Christ unconditionally.