Chaos on the sea was widely understood in the Jewish world as a sign of God's judgment or God's absence. We see it in the creation account, in the flood and in a lot of other imagery throughout the Old Testament. But, then Jesus rebukes the wind. He speaks to the sea. And it listens! If a raging sea was a sign of God's judgment, then Jesus was presenting Himself as one who had the authority of that judgment! If the sinking boat was seen a sign of God's absence, then Jesus was announcing His presence in way they could never forget!
Hezekiah took a threat, which was significantly more imminent, disastrous and real than anything I have experienced or am currently going through, and he spread it out before the Lord. That is a marvelous image of prayer, to spread it out before God as a sign of weakness and dependence and ask God to take care of it. We can fold it up tight and carry it around in our pockets and let it weigh us down and ultimately decay our peace, or we can spread it out, fold it flat, show it to God, and ask Him to help.
Jesus prays not because He is superhuman, but because He is human. It isn't a sign of His strength that He rubs our nose in, it is evidence of His dependence on the Father that He invites us into. His early morning prayer session isn't the separated hours of spiritual practice reserved for an unhurried monk, but rather it is the life giving retreat of a very busy shepherd.
The story of the covenant people of God in Genesis is a story of God's faithfulness to a people who are fighting to survive. They are exiles, sojourners, almost everywhere they go, and they face the steepest odds in every land - not to mention the odds they lengthen through their own sin - and yet they cling to a promise that God will sustain them, bless them, increase them, and get them home. That is the story arc of all of the people of God, but we forgot the whole exiles and sojourners part of it.
In this season of extreme refining for the people of the world, we have an opportunity to realign where we put our trust. For many of us, our temptation is to look to the very things that enslaved us for years, without looking to our Lord or even consulting Him on what to do next.
I can't help but think that we would see significantly more of God's hand moving in our life if we regularly prayed the types of prayers that Abraham's servant prayed. In a world where we are suddenly aware of the unpredictability of our days, the people of God would do well to regularly stop and pray... "Oh Lord, please come through for me today. I don't stand a chance without you. Show me what to do, and what not to do. Remind me of your steadfast love, please Lord. I need your guidance and your presence today."
In this season where we are forced into relative states of isolation, and we don't get the benefit of the crumbs falling off the faith tables of our friends, it is a great time to lean in, in faith, and to taste and see that the Lord is good, for yourself.
Part of what I love about Christianity, and part of what separates it out from every other worldview is its view of the incarnation, the fact that God became flesh and lived among us. What is perhaps most astonishing about that doctrine is the historic teaching of just how God lived among us. He didn't live a celebrity life of ease and comfort, nor did He live a separated life of abstract philosophical pontification, but rather took the form of a suffering servant and entered into the thick and thistles of human suffering to experience it fully with His people.
Gideon was the same weak man, the people were still in their same immediate difficult plight, but the reality of God's presence changed the prospects of God's people. The promise of God's power, changed the potential of God's chosen servant. Gideon stepped into the reality of being a mighty man of valor not by changing who he was, but by remembering who he was with, and more significantly, who was with him.