I love to hear a good story, especially when the story encourages my faith. My friend Marthe shares a wonderful testimony of God’s working in her life. Sometimes we know we are on a journey with God to a destination that we cannot see. We wonder what will happen on this journey, why it is all happening to us and what the purpose is ? These are the very questions she asked and God answered her. She writes :
The words of a little French chorus have become my theme song for the past year and a bit.
He has not said that you would sink,
He has not said that you would founder,
He has said: “Let’s cross to the other side.”
“Let’s cross to the other side.”
If a storm rages,
And the waves beat hard,
So that the boat is being swept away,
Do not be terrified.
The words, I’m sure you’ve recognized, are reminiscent of the story of Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41; Matt. 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25). The story reads in just a few lines, and so it’s easy to brush it aside and not think too much of it… until one’s life becomes that very nightmare that the disciples were experiencing that night.
The disciples were getting used to their new life, revolutionized by this rabbi who had chosen them. They were firsthand witnesses to amazing miracles and the powerful Sermon on the Mount. Life must have been so exciting! So was mine! In 2012, I was a content 32-year-old single woman with a wonderful family and an active church life. Though I wasn’t enjoying my job much at the time, I had a great boss and some brilliant colleagues, and I was earning a decent living. I had my own place, which I shared with my sister and best friend, that was my haven, my sanctuary. And life was even better – after years of fulfilled singleness, an exceptional man had just come into my life. Our romance blossomed in January and by March, we were officially engaged. The wedding was to be in June. It was set to be an amazing year. Like the disciples, it was time to cross to the other side, and I was more than ready. It was a simple crossing. Or so I thought.
The storm was so violent that these seasoned fishermen feared for their lives. In modern terms, the storm looked like this in my life – I got glandular fever in late April, which is a mean immune disease; my fiancé’s assets were seized and frozen by the taxman for alleged tax evasion in May. In the same month, my mother and I had a major fallout that led to her not showing at my bridal shower. All of this led to the wedding in June being postponed. To make matters worse, I lost my job in July, my haven in August. My fiancé lost his job in September and had to give up his apartment in November. And so suddenly (in the space of 8 months) that which looked like a promising year turned into a “furious storm” so that our “boat was being swept away”. We feared and despaired for our future. We questioned:
“Did we hear Him right?”
“Where we going the right way?”
We second-guessed ourselves. We even wondered, in our darkest moments of despair, if the vicious storm that had arisen in our lives was a result of disobedience (like Jonah)… At some point, we actually considered ending our relationship because it seemed we had brought each other “bad luck”. Our little boat was sure being swept away. And whenever I feared and cried out, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” (Matt. 8:25), the Holy Spirit would take me back to this story and remind me of these simple truths:
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41)
The Spirit would ask me 4 simple questions:
- Why are you in this boat?
Because Jesus said so. It was under His instruction, His leading and His directive that we had set out on this journey.
- What did He say?
His instruction was simple and clear, “Let us go over to the other side.” He meant for them to get to the other side. In other words, no matter what happened on the way, no matter how bad things got, no matter how high the waves rose against them, He had spoken that they were to get to the other side. In the instruction lay a promise, the promise that they… we would get to the other side.
- Where was He in all this?
Jesus was in the boat with them… with us. We had taken Him along with us. We weren’t alone in this boat. He is Almighty, to Whom nothing is impossible or too hard. So, as long as He was with us, as long as He had our back, no matter what came ahead of us, we would not flounder. So certain is His help that He slept right through it all. Our fiercest storms don’t perturb our Lord in the slightest.
- So what did He require of me then?
That I have faith. That simple. “Trust Me”, He would say. “Just trust Me, just the way I AM.”
And over and over this conversation would happen between us:
“Because You told me to.”
“What did I say, child?”
“You said to go over to the other side.”
“You are with me. You never leave me, nor forsake me” (Heb. 13:5)
This was often the hardest part. Most of the time, to be honest, I would utter the words with resignation rather than conviction:
“Trust You. I must just trust You, just the way You are.”
Sometimes I wouldn’t even say it all.
But the truth of it would remain, and it would sink in a little deeper every day. And throughout the months that the fiercest of storm of my life raged, I would sing the little chorus and be reminded that God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
And that is what got us through. We did make it to the other side and learnt to trust God in the process. We got married in April 2013 with a brand new little haven of our own and exciting professional opportunities. Turns out that leaving both our jobs is the best thing that could have happened to us! When the disciples got to the other side, they found much work to be done, their arrival brought freedom and much blessing for the people there.
Looking back, the storm made sense in that they now knew what it meant to trust God.