I had the privilege of speaking to the faculty and staff at my children’s school a few weeks ago during their in-service training. In my remarks to them, I included a section of dreams I had for my kids. Being honest, it’s also dreams I have for myself. It wasn’t until after my talk that I realized just how powerful these dreams are for me, too. In my list, I included:
To realize hard is not bad, rather it’s an opportunity for growth.
To appreciate anyone can do easy which is why easy has little value.
To believe that ANYTHING in life of value, any dream you have for yourself, will be filled with hard work and hard days and hard times..and knowing how to push through the hard and past the hard NOW will prepare you to be successful later.
To find one thing each month you didn’t think you could do and do it. And if you fail, to keep trying until you succeed-because eventually, you will.
To know all great leaders were failures first and to not be afraid to follow in their great footsteps.
It was this realization about how I handle ‘hard things’ that struck me. I began to realize that I ascribe certain beliefs when things become especially difficult that may not necessarily be true. Until recently, I have always mistakenly assumed having the wind against me was a sign I was rowing in the wrong direction. For most of my life, I assumed that if I was where God wanted me to be, doing the things He sent me to do, it should be easy. I should have His hand and grace and blessings on me. Where I came up with these misguided beliefs I have no idea.
In God’s infinite wisdom, He perfectly timed a message from Steven Furtick titled, “It’s Often Hard to See the Significance in Your Season.” As I listened to his message, I was awestruck by his words and one particular point. If you want to listen for yourself, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/nBSafyCXuGI
In his message, Steven focuses on Mark 6:45-52. This passage begins right after Jesus has miraculously fed the 5000 with a little boy’s lunch. After Jesus performs this miracle and the 12 baskets of leftovers are gathered and placed in the disciples’ boat, Mark 6:45 states,
“Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.”
Did you catch that? Omniscient Jesus SENDS His disciples into the boat to go ahead of Him to Bethsaida. Then a few verses later we read,
“He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.”
While Steven goes on to make lots of impactful points, I wanted to focus on one. In this passage, the disciples were obediently going exactly where Jesus sent them in the exact manner He had asked them to travel. There wasn’t delayed obedience; they weren’t headed to Tarshish and not Ninevah; the disciples had done the very thing Jesus had commanded, and yet, “they were straining at the oars because the wind was against them.” When Jesus sent them, He KNEW that they would be rowing into a storm, and He sent them anyway. In fact, it was hours later, shortly before dawn, before Jesus came to them.
I was so surprised by the realization that God often sends us places where He knows we’ll be rowing into the wind. He sends us places that He knows will require HIS ability to calm the winds in order for us to have safe passage. Countless times in my life I’ve sought God’s guidance and direction and wrongly assumed when things seemed too strenuous that I must have heard wrong. Instead, God may have sent me to row against the wind so that I would learn to depend on HIM and not my own abilities. He may have sent me so that WHEN things calmed, I would know it was Jesus who calmed them and not me. Notice in verse 51 we read,
“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.”
It wasn’t until Jesus climbed into the boat WITH the disciples that the winds finally calmed. How often have I needed God to do just that, but never rowed long enough to give God the opportunity? Instead, once the storms began to blow, how many times, did I take that as a ‘sign’ and head for shore-completely disobeying what I clearly heard God tell me to do simply because it became difficult? How many times did I miss experiencing His power and authority over my situation because I didn’t trust Him to come to ME and climb INTO my storm WITH me?
If God has called you to go somewhere or do something, don’t give up just because it’s hard. Lean into the wind and keep rowing until He calms your storm. Trust that God KNOWS the difficulties you are rowing against and that He has allowed it for a reason and for a season. Trust that He SEES you IN the storm. At no point were the disciples out of Jesus’s line of sight even while He prayed. Keep rowing. Keep obeying. Keep waiting for Jesus to climb into your boat. I promise, He’s walking out to meet you where you are.