94. Confidence

In this story, Jesus calms a storm and asks the disciples where their faith is.

Luke 8:22-23

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.

Reflect

Jesus decided to set off in a boat to the other side of a lake and the disciples agree to take him. Don’t be fooled – this lake was and is so huge that it’s called the Sea of Galilee. It’s 8 miles long and 13 miles wide. The lake is well below sea level, and cold winds blast through gaps in the surrounding high hills on the eastern side and collide with the warm air over the lake. This collision of differing air temperature and pressure causes squalls. The sea, being quite shallow, can get whipped up into a frenzy. Until you’ve been on the sea in a small boat, it’s hard to imagine how dangerous such a situation can be. It’s not like huge rolling waves on which the boat rides up and down, but in a squall on a shallow lake, the wavelengths are short and the amplitudes are high – in other words you get high waves that slam relentlessly into the boat one after another – blam, blam, blam. And on this occasion, while Jesus slept, a huge squall built up and the boat was beginning to be swamped.

The first thing that strikes me about this story is that Jesus’ disciples included very experienced fishermen and boatmen. These guys knew how to read the weather and the water, and somehow they either set off knowing full well that the conditions didn’t look great, or they were taken by surprise. Either way, as they set off, they were confident that they had the skill and ability to make the crossing. The second thing that strikes me is that these tough, hardened, and experienced sailors couldn’t cope with the situation – and no doubt they’d been in sticky situations before. The situation must’ve been worse than bad.

Like the disciples, despite our own self-confidence, sometimes in life we experience situations and circumstances that are beyond our control. Bad stuff happens and there’s nothing, in our own strength, that we can do about it. It’s at these times that we discover the depth of our trust in God. Because of the desperateness of the situation, it can feel like God’s asleep, indifferent or uncaring. But it’s precisely when we come to the end of ourselves that God can begin.

Our culture tells us that we can do anything if only we believe in ourselves. The Christian message is counter-cultural. It says that we can do anything in Jesus Christ. Our strength comes from God alone.

Do

Today, whether you feel like your life is in a storm or in a time of calm, consciously put aside your belief in yourself and place your life in God’s hands.

Pray

Holy God
Forgive me when I have gone solo;
when I’ve believed in my own strength and abilities;
and failed to trust in you.
You’re the source of my life and my strength
this day and forever.
Amen.

Think

Describe some situations where our trust in ourselves leads to risky or difficult situations.