Steven Furtick - You Will Survive This Storm
I want to read this to you for everybody who has been watching the wind in your life, worrying about uncertain situations you cannot control. I'm not talking about those of you who are trying to make a plan to pay off your debt. That's good. That's not a lack of faith; that's a presence of wisdom. Watching the wind is trying to calculate something you can't control. You are worried your kid is going to end up dropping out of school, and they are 3 months old. They don't like Baby Einstein enough yet, and you are worried they won't get into Harvard. You're watching the wind, trying to figure out stuff that's in the future.
Watch this. This is so weird. It says, "Immediately [after Jesus blessed all the multitudes and the crowds at a bad time] he made them get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd". At some point during his instructions he told them, "I will meet you on the other side". He gave them his word. "I will see you on the other side". He gave them his word. The challenge is not believing that you will see him on the other side; it's "How long is it going to be before I get there"? He gave me his word that he would never leave me nor forsake me. He gave me his word. In this corner, weighing in at unlimited pounds, hailing from eternity, made flesh by the will of the Father to redeem humanity, is the living, breathing Logos, Word of God, Jesus Christ.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And all things were made by him and for him, for he was with God in the beginning". He gave me his word. "After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because…" Why? "…the wind was against it". And his opponent, raging on the storm-tossed sea: the wind. We really came to church today to find out which one is going to win: the calling God put on your life or the circumstances that contradict it, your faith or your fear. The wind versus the word. The challenger.
Do you ever watch MMA? Sometimes I like to preach the Word and then watch people beat each other half to death on Saturday nights. It's a recovery method. It's kind of my own spiritual cryotherapy. The challenger, and then you have the undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion. Anyway, I'm going to get back to the text. It said the wind was against the boat. The boat did not represent disobedience, like it did for Jonah who was going away from God. They were going into their assignment, which led them into a storm, which meant they had to keep moving forward against the wind. If you watch the wind, you'll never set out. If they would have had a Weather Channel app, they would have never gotten in the boat. Sometimes we know too much. Sometimes we overthink things.
Who's this message for? If you are a chronic overthinker, you are a wind watcher. "I might get a flat tire. They've been doing a lot of construction. I don't know if I should take this job or not". Verse 25: "In the fourth watch…" The Romans divided it up into four watches, three hours each: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. first watch, 9:00 p.m. to midnight second watch, midnight to 3:00 a.m. third watch. And when did Jesus show up? I mean, this dude… Is it disrespectful to call him that? He was fully God and fully man. He shows up not the first watch of the night, second watch, third watch. What I like about the text is even the term watch has significance. If you remember what I just read you, it said he went up on a mountainside to pray. The sea was situated well below the mountain, which means that as they went through the storm, even though he didn't stop it, he saw them in it.
I want you to be encouraged today, my sister, my brother, my fellow child of God. Just because the storm is raging doesn't mean God has left the scene. Just because he hasn't stopped it doesn't mean he doesn't see it. Just because the Devil started it doesn't mean he won't use it. Just because I don't know how long until we get there doesn't make me doubt his presence in the middle of it. He was watching the whole time. He knew just when he wanted to step in so they could see him as he had never been seen. I believe God is speaking over somebody's situation today, that his eye is on you. I believe he has numbered the hairs on your head. I believe even in the bad things that have happened in your life he kept every tear in a jar, and I don't believe one of them is beyond redemption.
The Bible says that when it got to the last watch of the night, after they had rode four to five miles in their own strength, "Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were [at peace]". Nope. When you see God, your first response is fear. Why? You don't know if this is really him. That's the problem. I don't know if this is God or if this is the Devil. I don't know if I'm supposed to do this or if I'm supposed to do that. The challenge is trusting God in uncertainty. You have to believe the disciples were wondering, "Did we hear him right? Did he really say, 'Get in the boat'? Surely he wouldn't have sent us into a storm like this".
Now enters the mythology the Jewish people would have believed at this point that underneath the sea was controlled by an evil spirit. So when Jesus comes walking to them and they can't fully trace his silhouette because it's still dark and because it's foggy and the wind is against them, their first instinct is "It must be a ghost". See, you keep thinking when God shows up in the situation it's going to feel better all of a sudden, but this'll blow your mind: the Bible doesn't say they were scared at all until Jesus shows up.
Now do you see why you can't go by your feelings? Sometimes the moment when he's closest is the same moment when the wind is blowing the strongest. They were terrified. "'It's a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear". Now, Jesus, instead of rebuking them for their fear, responds to their initiative. He said… Remember, this is a significant term: Yahweh, "I Am," the name of God. It's a name Jesus embodied in flesh. God is that in spirit, but Jesus shows us that in flesh. When he says, "Take courage; it is I," it's more than him just saying, "It's me, boys". He's identifying his presence and connecting it to the eternal God and the eternal Word.
When he speaks, "It is I; don't be afraid," Peter in equal parts doubt and equal parts curiosity, because he just got to participate in a miracle of feeding 5,000, is like, "I want to get in on this one too. I'm tired of being in this boat with John. He gets on my nerves. He doesn't row". John was laid-back. Peter is like, "If it's you, get me out of this boat. Tell me to come". I preached this for a long time the wrong way, and I've corrected it since. I used to say Peter walked on water, but if you look at verse 29, Jesus said, "Come," and then Peter got down out of the boat and walked on the water, but he was really walking on the word.
I'm going to just ask you something. This is not a preachery question. Have you ever had to walk through something just on sheer faith that "If God brought me out here, he will not leave me now"? That's what it means to walk on the word. Have you ever had to move toward something in your life that scared you to death? You didn't have any experience for it, and your nautical knowledge did not prepare you for this incident, but all of a sudden, the sea became a hardwood floor underneath your feet with each step. That's what I mean by walking on the word.
Have you ever had to take a promise from God's Word and just hold on to it for dear life…a promise for someone you love who's sick, a promise for provision when you don't see where it's coming from, a promise that God is going to fulfill his purpose for your kids, and even if you don't know how it's going to…? Have you ever had to hold on so tightly to something in the fourth watch of the night? That's what I mean by walking on the word. Peter is walking on the word, but he's walking against the wind. So are we. See, Jesus didn't stop the wind; he gave the word. "Come," he said. That's no more instruction than you give your golden retriever. "Come". Maybe a golden retriever is smarter than some of us, because a golden retriever doesn't question the master, yet some of us, the first trace of wind, the first trace of disappointment…
I always thought Peter fell down walking to Jesus, because he gets out there a little ways, and most of us do… We get out there a little ways, we ingrain a habit for a little while, we go in a new direction by faith and trust God for a time, but somewhere during the process… The Bible says that after Peter had walked on the water and came toward Jesus (verse 30) he made a critical mistake. He saw the wind. Which one is stronger, the word or the wind? I want to say it depends which one you watch. I want to say that the wind did not have the strength to knock Peter off his feet. The only reason he went down is because he took his eyes off the word and started watching the wind.
See, faith is not an imaginary state where I get myself worked up into a delusion, like nothing is ever going to go bad again, and then I'm surprised when bad stuff happens. Faith is a focus. Faith is the ability to say, "I'm putting my eyes on the goodness of God in this moment, and I'm not looking back. I'm not looking forward. I'm not looking around. My mind has already reached a conclusion. God is for me. God is with me. If the wind be against me, if the world be against me, if all hell's power nails him to a cross, in three days he will rise, because my faith is focused on the word of God that I'm walking toward".
I want to prophesy over somebody today and declare over your life. The wind doesn't have to stop for you to keep walking toward Jesus. The situation doesn't have to get better for you to see the glory of God. I'm telling you what I know. If everything goes worse, if everything gets crazy, if everything rises up against you, God is an army. God is a second circle. God is an ever-present help in the time of trouble. If your life is built on the foundation of his Word, there is no wind that can rage against you that can shake it off.