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Why is it so difficult to stay in faith?

The fishermen's arms were spent from rowing so hard against the violent wind .

"Why on earth did Jesus send us out here tonight anyway?" (They may have thought).

But then something really strange happened. They saw a form of someone walking on top of the lake! And it was about to walk right past them. Can you imagine? Their nerves already completely shot from wrestling the storm. What else could possibly go wrong? Of course! a ghost walking by!

Well that was enough for them. They cried out in terror.

Turns out that It was Jesus who shouted back to them, "Don't be afraid! It's me!"

He came toward them and at the very the moment He stepped into the boat, the whole lake went completely still. Wow! Can you imagine? How would you feel if someone you knew came walking on top of water and then plopped down into your boat? And at the very moment they did, the wind stopped and the waves immediately stilled?

The Bible says that they were amazed beyond measure. I mean, who wouldn't be? I'm sure I would. But in Mark 6:52, the author adds a very interesting commentary. He says that they were greatly amazed beyond measure because they didn't understand about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.

Wait a minute.

What does being amazed over a miracle have to do with a hardened heart? I thought being amazed over a miracle was a good thing. Isn't it?

This is where it is very helpful to go back and read the previous chapters starting with chapter 4. The author, Mark, gives us some context because he narrates the events that happened chronologically. And without context, it's hard to understand why their amazement wasn't congratulated.

In chapter 4, Jesus explained the parable of the sower.

He went so far to say that this parable is the key to understanding all of the others. Why? Because this parable talks about the condition of the heart. He calls it the soil. The Word of God can be preached by Him or anyone else, and the hearers will get results (bear fruit) based on what the soil (condition) of their heart is like. Some soil is rocky, some thorny, and some is rich and ready to grow and multiply the seed that is sown into it.

Jesus took special care, pulling His disciples aside, to teach them what these parables meant in plain language because He wanted to make sure that they understood. (Mark 4:10-20)

On the same day, they all got into a boat together and a violent storm arose while they were at sea. The disciples were terrified and woke Jesus (who was sleeping peacefully on a pillow) yelling, "Don't you care that we are all going to die?" Jesus got up, rebuked the storm and it stopped immediately. The disciples were in awe, saying "Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" Then Jesus rebuked the disciples, "How is it that you have no faith?"

Again, wouldn't you be amazed beyond measure too?

So let's go back and review, chronologically all that the disciples witnessed and participated in following this boat incident, which we will call boat incident #1.

After boat incident #1, these things happened:

  • Jesus cast out a legion of demons from a man, who got completely delivered and in his right mind. (Mark 5:1-20)

  • They saw a 12 year old girl raised from the dead. (Mark 5:35-43)

  • A woman who had a bleeding problem for 12 years got healed immediately. (Mark 5:25-34)

  • Jesus sent them out to towns to cast out demons, and lay hands on the sick. They cast out many demons. And healed many people. (Mark 6:7-13)

  • They fed 5,000 men (more like 15,000 total people) with just 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. (Mark 6:30-44)

And that brings us up to Jesus walking across the water. (Mark 6:45-52) which we will call boat incident #2.

And this is the one where scripture says that they were amazed beyond measure because they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.

It's obvious from this scripture that a hardened heart doesn't mean someone who is in rebellion to God. These were Jesus' closest friends and disciples. They kept getting into boats in obedience to Jesus! And they loved Him very much.

So what is it?

The disciples had the same struggles that we do.

They heard the Word of the Lord, taught by the best Teacher. Yet when they were faced with scary (terrifying) situations, they reverted back to their carnal reasoning. Carnal simply means of the 5 senses. It means relying on what you can see, feel, smell, hear and taste. That's seems reasonable, doesn't it?

Jesus was trying to move them beyond just responding on what they could see, and feel, hear and taste with their natural senses. Jesus said in Mark 4:9, "He who has ears let Him hear!" In Luke 9:44 He also said, "Let these words sink into your ears...". He is looking for the kind of hearing that comes with understanding. It's a "hearing" that actively engages the Word. This kind of hearing produces results.

And this is exactly what He is trying to do with us.

Move us beyond a superficial hearing of His Word and into the realm where it is our unshakeable reality no matter what storm hits us. I am thankful that God put the disciple's process of learning on display for us. Their training process became public so we can learn from it.

Jesus gave instructions, demonstrated and then tested. And if you fail the first test, don't worry. You'll get another chance to take it again! The disciples needed to know that the same power that healed, cast out demons, and raised the dead was perfectly capable of calming storms and walking on top of water. Or feed thousands with a tiny amount of food. Or anything else. In other words, the power of God has no limits.

The power of God has no limits!

The challenge for us is to look at our circumstances through the lens of God's power and not the lens of our own weakness. My mom, who is 85 years old, often says to me, "Don't try to lift that, it's too heavy for you." The item might be 15 or 20 pounds and not too heavy for me to lift. What she means is that the item is too heavy for her to lift. And because of that, she assumes that it is too heavy for me to lift.

Do we perceive God through the lens of our weaknesses?

Do we tend to dwell more on our scary circumstances, or the unlimited power of God that has been made available to us? Are we surprised when God simply acts like God?

God is moving us through a process so that we can receive from Him beyond the measure of our natural abilities to receive what is supernatural.

We just need to keep our hearts open and allow Him to get us there.

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