Washed ashore

Good morning, friends. I am not going to beat around the bush this morning – the Renninger family saga continues!

We recently returned from a trip to Colorado, though for me it was the second trip in three weeks. The second trip was work related, the first was heart related. Our dear son, Jacob, was in an accident in Colorado, and I flew out to be with him in the hospital for a week. His injuries are serious and will take quite some time for healing. I am so very thankful that he is going to heal, by the grace of God.

I was home less than a week, and my husband and I headed back out in the truck. We stopped in and visited with Jacob and Kristin for an evening before going on to Luke and Maddie’s home in Meeker. We no sooner arrived than we got a call informing us that a tornado had gone through our farm! There were trees stripped, broken and my beloved willow tree was simply gone!

The back of our shop was blown out, tempting our herd of fallow deer to escape. Steel lifted from the heifer barn, and the entrance to the main barn was sagging. Our sweet corn patch that looked so promising was laying flat. I won’t lie to you; I broke down and cried like a baby. I wanted to cry out, “Lord, when is enough, enough?” But I didn’t, because I know that when the waters get rough, Jesus will come walking …

This pattern of disaster seemed to begin a little more than a year ago when Rusty had his heart attack. Then, Mckena, our sweet infant granddaughter, died in December. Only a few months later, my husband rolled the log skidder and was injured. Amidst all this, we have had health problems and relational difficulties within the family. Now, Jacob’s accident and the tornado. Yes, yes, yes, with all that’s in me, I want to scream, “Enough already!”

But, you know what? Here He comes, walking on water.

I have written about this story before, so bear with me. For some reason, it resonates within me … Jesus came walking on the water in the midst of the raging storm. John 6 tells the story so briefly, yet so powerfully.

Beginning in verse 16: When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water, and they were terrified. But He said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”

Then they were willing to take Him into the boat. Immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

Wow! What powerful messages are within this short story!

First of all, the story says it was dark, and Jesus was not yet with them. Don’t our struggles often hit us when we are “in the dark” and not focusing on God? Don’t you wonder why we are so slow to learn?

Taking our eyes off of God only invites the work of the enemy, and the storms of life begin to rage – the strong winds blow and the waters grow rough. In our frail minds, though, we still don’t get it.

The story goes on to say that the disciples rowed three and a half miles. Friends, are you as guilty of this independence as I am? Even amidst the raging waters, I sometimes attempt to fix life on my own … do you, too? Thank God that He doesn’t look at us struggling on our own and turn around and head to shore. No, instead He sees us in our helplessness and comes walking on the water.

Yet, the Bible says that the disciples were terrified. Why? Were they so focused on their own efforts at saving themselves that Jesus had not even entered their minds? I wonder. And I have been guilty of the same.

You would think after Jesus had been with them for this long, and they had witnessed many miracles performed by Him, that He would be foremost in their minds. Yet, how many miracles I have seen Him perform in my own life, and still, sometimes I am slow to call on Him during the raging storms of my life. God, forgive me!

But He said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take Him into the boat, and immediately they reached the safe shore where they were heading. Now, this is making me confess things I don’t want to confess.

Sometimes, in the midst of my storms, when I am stubborn and don’t call out to God, but insist on trying to fix it myself … God, in His love and mercy, seeing me struggle without Him, will make His presence known to me and lovingly come to my rescue, in spite of myself. What a God! What a loving Savior!

I don’t deserve His mercy when I persist in my independence; struggling on without Him. Yet, He comes, walking on the waters. The storms calm in my heart; the waters are once again peaceful. How do I keep forgetting?

Could it be possible that God allows the raging waters simply for this very reason? He knows our frailty. He knows our independence. He knows our reluctance to call out to Him until we are about to drown. He just knows.

I am not saying that everything that happens in our lives is for us to call out to God; only He knows those answers. What I am saying is that if we do call out to God in our distress, He will not turn and walk away from us. He will lovingly come to our rescue, taking pity on us as the loving father He is.

The end of the story? The boat reached the shore where they were heading.

Where are you heading, friend? To the safe shore where only Jesus can take you? Or do you want to stay out there on the sea … on the raging waters, alone and terrified? I can’t speak for you, but I love laying on the beach, on the warm sand, sifting it through my toes and looking out over the raging waters, knowing I am safe.

Thank you, Lord, for this very precious reminder. Only you can calm the storms. I pray for each of you reading this morning that Jesus will calm the storms in your heart, as well. Blessings as we continue on together!

Debby Renninger is a free-lance writer and inspirational speaker. She is the leader of the women’s ministry at Pine Glen Church of the Brethren and also leads a weekly Bible study, “Beauty for Ashes,” in her home in McVeytown. Renninger may be reached at 250-7086.