[I will never forget that night, it was darker than dark, frightening. Not a star was visible. The wind was howling and blowing with all its fury at the sea, which snapped back in anger with hurled waves that threaten to overturn my boat. The fight was on and I was caught in the middle of their war. Panic ensued me as I raced in my thoughts, trying to understand what was happening, and how I could escape when I heard a still calm voice say,
“Come, step out of the storm tossed boat and come unto me.”
“But the wind, the waves, I’ll drown!”
“Come,” the voice said, “be not afraid, come, walk on the water with me.”
With my eyes closed I felt my way to the head of the boat. I opened my eyes and before me was a bright beam of light with out stretched arms extended from within. The noise of the angry sea and fierce winds became a dull whisper as I focused on the voice coming from the vision that was before me. I climbed out of the boat and began to walk on the water. I didn’t sink, for every place my feet touched, the angry sea became calm, the wind stilled as I journeyed toward my goal, becoming engulfed in the presence of God.]
We each began our Christian Life in a boat that has been constructed by the experiences of those who led us to Jesus. Within their boat we are instructed in the Word of God, instilled with testimonies of faith from the writers of the Bible as well as those of our pastors, church school teachers, visiting evangelists and others who “know” the risen Christ. We follow their example of prayer, praise, and worship; we visit the sick, shut-in, widows, orphans, and the incarcerated; we join auxiliaries: choir, usher board, nurses’ board, brotherhood, missionary society, benevolent board, ways and means committee; and we attain faithfulness in monetary giving to the Kingdom of God. However, until we are confronted with a crisis, a “storm” that challenges us to exercise a personal act of faith in Christ, we will continue to only “know of Him” based on other’s testimonies instead of “knowing Him” personally for ourselves.
“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.”
“. . . . Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”
- John 4:39, 42
When the woman at the well met Jesus and believed Him to be the Messiah, the town people came running to meet Him based on the woman’s testimony of faith. However, after they had met Him and they communed with Him, they moved from believing on Jesus because of the woman’s faith into establishing their own faith in Him as the promised Messiah.
Hence, the testimonies of those who came to know Jesus before us, are to provoke us into developing our own walk of faith in the Living Christ.
“Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.” - 1 Samuel 3:7-10
Samuel was presented to the Lord by his mother Hannah in return for the Lord answering her prayer to remove her barrenness and giving her a son (1 Sam. 1:1-28). From a young child up, Samuel was trained in the service of the Lord by Eli the Priest. While Samuel was yet a child, he ministered before the altar of the Lord girded with a linen ephod, following the example of Eli and the other priests (1 Sam. 2:18). Yet Samuel did not know the Lord personally, he only knew of the Lord from what Eli taught him. When the Lord called Samuel as he lay in bed, he thought Eli had called him. It wasn’t until the Lord called him a third time, and he said, “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth” as Eli had instructed, did he come to know the Lord’s voice. Samuel’s storm began when God commissioned him to pronounce a message of judgment to Eli and his household. Eli was his caretaker and his teacher. He had taught him everything he knew about the Lord. It was Eli’s spiritual wisdom that instructed him in how to know and respond to the Lord’s call! How could he tell Eli, this man that he loved and lived with, the terrible things that would befall him? As he struggled in his fear to walk on troubled waters, Eli pressed him to step out of the comfort of their relationship and tell him word for word what the Lord had said. Samuel took that walk, and at the appointed time, God established him in the office of prophet/priest to Israel (1 Sam. 3).
Was this Samuel’s only walk on the water with the Lord? No. There were many more walks of faith in the prophet’s life. When the Lord instructed him to go and anoint David the next king of Israel who would replace Saul, Samuel found himself once again treading troubled waters. If Saul found out he had anointed David as the next king he would be executed (1 Sam. 16:1, 2). Nevertheless, Samuel took that walk of faith and God protected him from Saul’s reign of terror.
Peter, the focus of inspiration for this writing, experienced many walks of faith following his initial walk with Jesus on the stormy sea of Galilee. One particular walk of faith began while he was in prayer on the house top of one Simon a Tanner. In a trance, God gave him a vision of all kinds of animals that were forbidden to be served as food, and a command to rise, kill and eat; and do not call what I have cleanse unclean. As Peter wondered about the meaning of the vision, two men sent by Cornelius arrived looking for him. In obedience to the Holy Ghost, Peter followed the men back to Cornelius house. What made this walk a boisterous storm? Up until this incident the Jewish believers, including Peter, believed that all gentiles were unclean and outside of God’s grace. For a Jew to enter the home of a gentile was an act of sin, doing so made him unclean also. But as Peter completed his walk on the water with Jesus by preaching the gospel to Cornelius and his household, the Holy Ghost fell on them and they began to speak in tongues in the same manner as the Jewish believers (Acts 2)! Peter than understood the meaning of the vision. Salvation wasn’t just for the Jews; it was for anyone who put their trust in Jesus as their Savior. Thus, God used Peter to open the door of salvation to the gentiles.
Throughout our Christian Journey we will take numerous walks on the water with Jesus. Each walk will lead to an increase of our faith in Him. Samuel did, Peter did, the town people of Samaria did, many others did, and so will we. In our service unto the Lord, even in our personal life, we will be challenged to step out of our boat of tradition and cross seemingly treacherous waters to know Jesus more.
When cancer developed in my right breast, the Lord showed me in a dream that He would remove the cancerous lump through surgery. But the thought of having surgery frighten me. What if they make a mistake? What if I die on the operating table? I just wasn’t ready to put my life into the hands of people I didn’t know. So, when one of the doctors in oncology suggested chemotherapy instead of surgery I opt for the chemo.
Following my third treatment, it was discovered that the chemo had shrunk a blood vessel to my heart causing coronary heart disease. All treatment for cancer was stopped as the doctors then began to treat the heart disease. It was finally decided that despite the heighten risk to my life due to the serious condition of my heart; surgery was the only option I had to rid my body of the cancer. Why couldn’t God just make the cancer disappear? Why did He choose to heal me through the scalpel of a surgeon? As the scheduled date for the surgery neared I became increasingly distressed and worried until the Lord led me to I John 4:17, 18.
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
I had to ask myself, “Do you believe God loves you? Do you believe that Jesus’ love will be with you while you’re in surgery? Don’t you know that because He loves you perfectly (completely without wavering) whatever the outcome of the surgery, be it life or death He will be with you? Hasn’t He promised you life after surgery? In the dream, when He reached down and plucked the lump out of your breast wasn’t you still alive?” As I answered yes to each question a peace settled over me that I couldn’t explain. All I knew was that I was no longer afraid. I was ready to walk on the wind tossed sea of surgery onto Jesus and live. The surgery was a success. With God’s hand on the surgeon’s hand the cancer was removed and 8 years later, I’m still cancer free and I no longer have coronary heart disease. The damage that was done to my artery was reverse by faith in God’s love to heal me.
“Storms” are a part of our progress toward attainment in Christ. Whether internal or external; physical or spiritual; its purpose is to bring us into an experiential relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.