All Hands Off Deck

“Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it.”Mark 4:35-37 MSG

Have you ever had a friend that influenced you to do the craziest of things? A friend that pushed you to do something outside of your personality. Maybe they gave you the courage to start up a conversation with that person you’ve been crushin’ on for six months. Maybe they got you to try the demonically hot salsa that no normal person eats. Or, possibly they coaxed you into playing a full on game of two-touch football in the toy aisle of Walmart. These kind of friends help make some of the greatest memories in life, but sometimes they can get you into big trouble.

I had many friends like this growing up. Of course I never did anything too terribly “bad”. After all I was a P.K. (Pastor’s Kid). I had a rep to uphold. So I didn’t allow my friends to persuade me to do anything too crazy. Only mild stuff like unashamedly mooning my Sunday school class.

One time a friend of mine had this idea to throw water balloons from a deep ditch on the side of a neighborhood road at passing cars. (Primarily soccer moms #Burblife) If anyone stopped, this ditch was deep enough and long enough that we could easily run away into the nearby woods completely unnoticed. As a 13 year old boy this seemed brilliant! I mean, what could possibly go wrong, right? We hit many cars, all of which stopped, and all of which we averted by escaping into the cover of the woods. But then, the unthinkable happened… We hit “that mom’s” mini van.

This was not your ordinary soccer mom—this one had been genetically mutated in some anomaly into a super-soccer mom. She had the athleticism of Adrian Peterson, and was graced from Heaven with quads that ran at 587 horsepower. As soon as the water ballon impacted her windshield she slammed on the breaks coming to a screeching halt. We ran as fast as our little 13 year old chicken legs could, but as soon as she stepped out of the car it was like the T-Rex scene in Jurassic Park. The ground rumbled beneath our feet. Puddles beside us rippled in response to every step she took. In contrast to the T-Rex, I knew if we stood still we would for sure be seen. It was all hands on deck. We had no choice but to escape or die.

Luckily, we got away. The battle was over. We had escaped death… barely. But, little did we know the war had just begun. Although we weren’t caught, she had still seen what we looked like. It was all hands on deck, as we spent and hour and half averting this enraged mom, navigating our way back to my friends house. What happened next though we did not expect. Apparently she had gone door to door in the neighborhood asking about us, and 2 hours later tracked us down to my friends house. Let’s just say we got in BIG trouble. (However I think this may be the first time my parents have herd this story… Sorry Mom and Dad.)

Have you ever been in a situation where it seemed that things where so crazy, and so stressful, that there was so much potential for everything to crash and burn almost instantly? Have things ever started coming apart at the seems in your life where the only response is to throw up your hands and yell “All hands on deck! We gotta save what little we can!” Whether you where led there by a friend or you got there yourself is irrelevant. (Who to blame isn’t what matters.) The same exact scenario happened to Jesus’ disciples in Mark 4.

Jesus and the disciples had been teaching multitudes of people by the sea all day. (I personally think church services would be way more effective if we had them on the beach too. I mean sand volleyball, swimming, sun tanning, and getting taught the Word! HELLO?! Anyway…) Any normal person would be worn out, ready for a hot dinner, and a good night’s sleep after all this.

“Let’s go across to the other side” Jesus said to his disciples.Mark 4:35

Really, an invite only yacht party with Jesus?! Who would pass this up? This is an amazing idea to end this whole day of ministry! I mean, what could possibly go wrong? His disciples are so excited they even invite some of their other friends with their boats. (Mark 5:36)

I’m sure they laughed, and had some smoked fish for dinner. One was probably jamming out on the harp, another heading up the biggest cannon ball splash competition. They where probably having the time of their lives! They where with Jesus and life couldn’t get any better. As time went on, Jesus retired to the stern for the night and then the unthinkable happened.

“A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it.” (Mark 4:37 MSG) Now remember, most of these disciples where professional fishermen before they started following Jesus. So, when they said it was a “huge storm” and it was “threatening to sink the boat” you better believe it was serious business.

“All hands on deck! We gotta buckle down and fight through this storm!” The disciples must have been shouting.

“We can’t keep up with all the water coming in” another said.

One yelled “We’re in way over our heads! We’re done for!”

Peter was probably hollering commands trying to bring some leadership and direction for a slim chance of survival. “Hold tight everyone, here comes a big hit! Quick everyone grab the buckets and… Wait… Where’s Jesus?” All the disciples then realizing that Jesus was still absent. He never came out.

“Why isn’t He out here helping us? Doesn’t He know we called ‘all hands on deck’? Doesn’t He know how threatening this storm is? We are about to die!” The disciples probably thought.

“Guys, He’s the Christ.” Peter must have said. “He’s obviously doing His Son-of-God duties and praying to God to take away this storm. He must be on His knees in deep intercession for us.”

So, the disciples go down to the stern to check on Him, and to their utter shock and horror Jesus is asleep on a pillow! “The nerve that He has to lead us out here in the middle of this chaos and then have the audacity to sleep while we do all the work to maybe survive what He got us into!” They probably exclaimed.

“They roused him, saying, ‘Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?’” (Mark 4:38 MSG) Another translation says “The disciples woke him up, shouting, ‘Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?'” (NLT)

“Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Settle down!’ The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: ‘Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?’” (Mark 4:39-40 MSG)

Those might sound like strong words, but let’s look at what His disciples where just taught earlier that day…

“And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.” (Mark 4:16-17 MSG)

In this parable the seed represents the Word of God and the type of ground represents the condition of the heart. (Mark 4:14-15) Here is someone who hears the word, and they are excited about it. They post about it on Facebook. The download the podcast and re-listen to it. But, then they find themselves in the middle of a storm yelling “all hands on deck”, and completely forgetting the stability the Word brings to life. Why? One reason.

“But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.” (Mark 4:17 NLT)

They have no root. “Root in what?” You may ask. Paul prayed in Ephesians 3 “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT)

It doesn’t matter how amazing a doctrine is, how life changing a message may be, how great a biblical principle is, if it’s not rooted deep in the fact that God loves us it will not have any long lasting effect in our lives. God’s Word only goes as far as our belief in His love for us. Why? Because, faith works by love. (Galatians 5:6) That’s the root! Without that we will be tossed and moved by every storm that arises. Every curveball life throws will in turn throw us for a loop if we’re not established in God’s love.

The disciples said “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” (NLT) Of course He cared, but He cared from a place of faith, not fear! They weren’t rooted in His love for them. Had they been Peter would have been like “Wait… Where’s Jesus? Oh, He’s asleep in the stern? Guys, everything is going to be alright! Jesus is asleep.”

Have we forgotten the great 90’s W.W.J.D. bracelet revival? What would Jesus do? Friends, if your going though a storm right now, if everything seems hopeless, if it seems like life is falling apart, and all your dreams are being shattered before your eyes may I humbly suggest that we passionately follow after Jesus like never before. When the stress is unmanageable and the temptation is there to throw up your hands and say “all hands on deck, we’re going down” let’s look to Jesus. If He is pacing in the stern saying “Oh my Dad, what are we going to do?” then we have great reason to worry. But, if He isn’t, if He is still seated at the right hand of the Father, at a place of rest, if He is still the Prince of Peace, if He is still Savior then we can be fully assured that everything is going to be alright! God love us, and if He loves us then He’s for us!

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Romans 8:31-39 MSG)

If Jesus led us out here and He’s not worried, then this storm won’t worry us either. Instead of throwing up our hands in fear, let’s throw down our pillows in faith, with a bold proclamation— “All hands off deck! If this storm sinks me, it’s gonna have to sink Jesus too, because I’m at rest next to Him! He loves me. He cares for me. He didn’t lead me here to die, He led me here to rest! So storm, you can’t scare me, because greater is He who’s in my boat than he who’s in the storm! (1 John 4:4) I will not fear. Jesus is my Lord, and Savior! He is my good Shepherd to lead, guide, and shield me! He makes me lie down and rest! He RESTores my soul! Even when I’m walking through the darkest of valleys, He is right there with me— protecting me. He serves me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies! Surely His goodness and unfailing love will chase after me all the days of my life! (Ps. 23) ”

Whatever you may be up against, know that God loves you, He’s for you, He’s with you, and He will not fail you!

Written by Jared Kutz

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