More movies than I can count are comeback stories. We love to see the victorious underdog or the champion fallen from the heights of accomplishment winning again. We cheer; we are inspired. However, when faced with trials, we surrender defeat unable to picture a comeback story for ourselves.
After my job loss I could have found a job in my field. In arrogance I’d spent over 12 years building my reputation, experience and achievements. But, God had clearly spoken - door slammed, locks bolted, hinges fused. The doors were more than closed, the ‘No Admittance' warning tape crossed the door frame, cautioning me to steer clear. His answer was the firmest ‘NO’ I’d ever heard. This is NOT the path. I feared disobedience more than the risk of following an unclear path, to an unknown place, with an uncertain outcome.
God was inviting me to climb into a boat, push off the comforts of the dock I’d known for so long and drift into the fog, trusting him to take me to the other side. None of it made sense, family and friends thought I was crazy but I felt a sense of peace. I climbed into the boat and I braced myself for the storm to come.
I’m not the only one to climb into a boat with God by my side. In Mark Chapter 4, Jesus said to his disciples “Let us go over to the other side”. And they did. I did. None of us knowing what was brewing, but it wasn’t long when “a furious squall came up” for them and for me.
Walls of water wash over us, threatening our lives - financial disaster, incurable diagnosis, miscarriage, death of a loved one, heartbreak - such devastating loss. As the storm comes we desperately try bailing out water, the disciples in their boat, you in yours, and me in mine, all while Jesus sleeps - on a cushion in the corner of the boat. Endeavoring to save ourselves, but not recognizing the power of the man comfortably resting right beside us. Jesus, Emmanuel - God with us, is in our storm, but do we put down our sloshing bucket long enough to notice his presence, his peace? Or are we too busy trying to save ourselves, overwhelmed by the turbulent wind and waves to see him.
I can picture the moment, the moment Jesus wakes. While I’m heaving the contents of the bucket and my stomach over the side, unable to stand in the upheaval of my life, he rises from his slumber yawning and stretching. Rested. “Don’t you care if we drown?” Familiar and hurtful words spewed in haste; words we know aren’t true, yet words birthed
Of course he cares. It only takes a word. “Quiet!” he says. Was that for me or the wind? “Be still” he says again. At the sound of his voice, calmness comes: my heart rate slows, and the sea turns glass.
A rescue from a bleak forecast, looming dark clouds, pelting waves and angry howling winds.
Silence. Protection. Provision. Comfort. Healing.
I imagine the disciples collapsed on the waterlogged boat floor, rubbing their eyes wide with shock and unbelief. “Who is this man?” They walked with him, they talked with him, they saw him feed 5,000 people with a codfish lunch, yet they wondered who he was.
When God shows up in my mess, I’m awed by His displayed power and both stunned and perturbed by His punctuality. I too collapse in exhaustion; my greatest strength pales in extreme weakness compared to his limitless capabilities.
We know Jesus saw their fear, their doubt, for ‘he said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” His question resonates in the recesses of my heart.
Could it be, even after witnessing a miracle with our own eyes we are more terrified of seeing God’s faithfulness than we were of the storm?
Could it be, we are terrified of how being saved will change our life. How Amazing Grace came to be true for you and for me.
Comebacks give us perspective; it makes the power of God real in our own life. Without a testimony of our own, we’re living on someone else’s faith, someone else’s experience. We must see God come through for us, or God’s power remains mysterious and impersonal.
We must be rescued from the pit, lifted out of depression and despair; we must be an eyewitness to the relief from unrelenting winds. We must have the details of our deliverance penetrate our heart. We must change our perspective on our trials, by searching for God’s faithfulness in our suffering. We must look at our situation as a set up for a comeback. God wants us to see that when we see a storm, he sees a story of his showing up and showing off.
Look at your storm - both current and past - and say: “God in this season of darkness show me your faithfulness.”
The loss of my job was not just the slow unraveling of my identity and independence, but it was the pivotal surrendering of my pride and dependence on God.
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