Have you ever felt overwhelmed?
I was listening to an item on the radio the other day. People were talking about their “to do lists”. There are many reasons why people keep them. For some, it acts as a target tracker, things they want to achieve. For some, it acts as a handy reminder a list of things that they are likely to forget if they haven’t written it down. Some people love their “to do list” they feel as though they have achieved something when they tick off the competed items.
I am one of those people that have to have a “to do list”. I do, however, have a bit of a love / hate relationship with mine. I need it because I have a forgettery where my memory used to be. I hate it because, when I look at the list of outstanding items, it can make me feel overwhelmed, the list seems ever growing and never shrinking.
That feeling of being overwhelmed can be horrible at times. It’s like drowning under a sea of demands that never seem to ease up. Let’s face it, we can all feel like it at times.
The passage I read in the Bible today was one of those that I found it easy to relate to. The disciples were overwhelmed.
At first, they face a hungry mob of 5000 men (plus women and children). Then, for good measure, Jesus clears off up a mountain to pray whilst they have to fight a storm on the Sea of Galilee on their own.
I found myself getting quite angry. The disciples are engaged in the task Jesus has set them, a furious storm blows up on the Sea of Galilee. It really hit me. This is totally unfair.
They are in the boat – exactly where Jesus told them to be
They are in unity – sailing and rowing this kind of boat was a team effort
They are obedient- doing what Jesus said when He told them to do it.
It just is not fair. Surely, God would have made their passage smooth. Surely, God would have made it an easy journey, it was His will after all.
Why is it that, sometimes, we are doing the right thing, the place, the right time and life goes wrong? It has certainly happened to me, doing what I believed God wanted and it’s all blown up in my face.
There are no easy answers, and I firmly believe that “Christian platitudes” can cause serious damage! Some, well meaning, Christians that trot out their “off pat” answers are a little like cigarette packets, they should come with a health warning attached.
As I read on in the passage, it seems that my worst fears were realised when The gospel writer, Mark says;
He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, (Mark 6 vs. 49)
Even that slight glimmer of hope, the arrival of Jesus, seems to be short lived as He goes to “pass them by”. Isn’t Jesus meant to be with us? Isn’t Jesus meant to care? Yet, he is walking past them.
As I spent time in the passage, I wondered if, maybe, I had got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Maybe, the phrase “pass them by” doesn’t mean quite what I thought it meant. I did what all good ministers do when confronted with something they don’t understand – I turned to a commentary!
I am so pleased I did because, I found something I hadn’t realised before.
The commentary guided me back to a passage in the Old Testament where Moses asks to see the glory of God. God tells him that Moses cannot see His face. God will “pass by” Moses (Exodus 33 vs. 19). The commentator suggested that is what was happening. Jesus “passing by” was not about ignoring or not caring it is about Jesus revealing who He is to this precious bunch of disciples.
Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. (Mark 6 vs. 51)
Jesus never intended His disciples to fight on alone. He was not going to abandon them. He was going to ensure they came through their time of overwhelming having experienced something more of Him.
Perhaps you are overwhelmed at the moment and perhaps you may feel that Jesus is “passing by”. Maybe, He is just wanting to show you something more of His glory.