Matthew 14:22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship…
CONSTRAIN, v.t. [L., to strain, to bind…] In a general sense, to strain; to press; to urge; to drive; to exert force, physical or moral, either in urging to action or in restraining it….
One of the risks of following Jesus is that sometimes He sends you–drives you, even–where you don’t want to go, like through the valley of the shadow of death where the locusts are having a gorging feast on anything good you might have desired to have or pleasured in. He allows hardship into your life that, yes, you will have to walk through. No one signs up (“pick me!”) for the miriad of trips down heartbreak and pain and confusion and suffering. But one day you’re just following Jesus in green pastures and the next you’re in a wee wimpy boat on a tumultuous ride through a lake He told you to cross. Didn’t Jesus know ahead of time that this boat He put you on, that He constrained you to board, was going to get hit by a hurricane?
Meet my hurricane.
Matthew 14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
Oy, the contrariness of the prevailing wind. Sometimes I have a handle on Down Syndrome, and I’m just steering my boat on a clear blue sky. And then, *WHAM*…suddenly it’s dark, and I’ve been rowing for many, many watches, and I’m weary, and after all this time of sailing I *still* don’t know everything I ought to and I’m probably going in circles and there are leaks in the boat I missed earlier and where is Jesus now anyway? Doesn’t He know how I am straining at the oars? Why doesn’t He come set my boat aright and give me unmistakably clear directions? I know I don’t deserve smooth sailing…but I sure want it.
Matthew 14:25,27 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea….saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Oh, Captain of my Soul! Jesus presses me into places I never ask for, never seek. And yet in the midst of trials He is there; He commands cheer and fearlessness even as the white caps are still frothing. He invites me to trust Him, to fix my eyes upon Him, to give thanks for the boat I’m on because that is what He will use to meet me in the middle of great stormy seas. I didn’t ask for this. I would have preferred to stay on the sand.
I would have missed my Jesus walking on water.
Matthew 14:30-31 But when he (Peter, walking upon the water towards Jesus) saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
How He knows my every fear, my every seed of faithlessness. How He knows the weight I give to circumstances around me, to the laughable confidence I give the seaworthiness of my little vapor boat to carry me. He knows how prone I am to wander even when the waters are smooth, to judge my sailing abilities against others in their own dingeys, to even forsake the watch for an extra measure of a little slumber, a little closing of the eye (will the storm settle if I ignore it?). Yet His hand is ever stretched forth to me, Come, says He, follow Me.
Matthew 14:32-33 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Worship is the point of the boat, the storms, the fears and the sinking. Jesus constrains me to go where I would never ask to, fearing failure and hardship and drowning and discomfort, so that I will end up being where I at my innermost most want to be: in His hands, at His feet, ever-growing in the truth that He is the Son of God, able and willing to perfect that which He has begun in me, to make me perfectly whole. How then ought I to curse the weather?
Let Him bid me to come unto Him on the water, to give thanksgiving for the grace to walk with Him there and to praise Him for putting me there. My faith is so weak, I never ask for those opportunities to begin with.