Why Do We Feel Like We Are Getting Shoved Off Onto a Treadmill?
Does Jesus ignore us? Does He force us into uncomfortable surroundings?
There’s a unique account in Mark 6:45 where Jesus constrained his disciples to get into the ship.
Constrained means to compel, to even force and urge by putting pressure on. He has a design in allowing things to happen as He corrals us into a spot.
When He sent them away He didn’t physically escort them.
Mark 6:46-47 when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray…the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.
Jesus didn’t go with them, but He knew what they we’re getting into, He was actually directing it, and He left them out in a situation where it felt like they we’re abandoned.
Mark 6:48-49 he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he comes to them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:
He saw the impossible storm they were swallowed in and the excruciating rowing as they were spinning out of control.
The word “toiling” means they were in torture; it is undergoing anguish and harassment. They we’re being exposed by external circumstances as they strained to row harder, and they were getting nowhere.
How weird is it to look out in our storm and see Jesus walking on top of it, but then to feel like He is ignoring our impossible clash with grinding problems, it appears He’s off to another task? We feel unseen, invisible or uncared for in our intolerable efforts of treadmill cycling. Like life is happening well for others but not for us. We’ve been left out of the scheme, or we’ve gotten the bad breaks.
Isaiah 45:15 states it this way:
Verily, You are a God that hides yourself
Why do we feel abandoned and why does He at times look like His answer to our hope is opposed to what we expected?
Four things here make for the extreme condition of what initially appears a haywire encounter. It was the 4th watch, which is 3 am, so they had been in the struggle for a while. It was an extreme gale in the middle of the sea. They we’re not able to move against the squall no matter how hard they rowed. Now after all that they see what they think is a ghost walking on the top of the storm. It is spooky to imagine, an appearance of an apparition, a phantom creeping in on them
It may look like Jesus is passing us by, or even hiding, but He is training us to cry out to Him. We would like us to depend on Him, but He wants us to make that conclusion.
He comes to us but it’s on His terms, He’s not forcing us to trust but stripping back His assumed care and the expected protective mercy we take for granted. He wants us to invite Him into the problem. He comes in the storm, but appears to be ignoring us.
In another gospel account we see Him sleeping in a dark squall in the inner part of the boat. He does this, because He’s teaching us to trust, to see how given to fear and being spooked we are. He loves our feelings, wants us to give Him our grief and losses, and asks us to cry out to Him.
Psalm 139:3 David states: You surround my lying down.
Jesus surrounds us in our low times, even when we’re feeling nauseated with the storm and physically collapsed. Often, no matter what we try, it looks ineffective, even futile, but that’s the paradox.
We learn to be dependent when we’re exposed to failure in the self-effort of treadmill rowing. He’s teaching us over and over our need of Him.
Paul states: When I’m weak I’m strong. Weak in our self, is the door to being strong in the Lord.
Jesus is not ignoring us; He’s not abandoning us. He just isn’t going to force Himself on us. He is non-intrusive. He wants us to open up to Him, cry out in dependence, and wait on His design in a real conviction of trust. We don’t trust Him, really confide in Him as our all, until we’re on our last nerve.
We may feel like Job in our ordeal as he said in Job 9:11
He goes by me, and I see him not: He passes on also, but I perceive him not.
Jesus is with us; He’s always waiting for our new expressions of trust. We don’t recognize how independent and self-sufficient we are until the storm erupts and we get clobbered. We were trusting because things are predictable.
We think that things are supposed to work a certain way.
When all is unpredictable, stuff is erratic and fitful that’s when we cry out, that’s when we see how needy we are, and we don’t want to miss experiencing Jesus, His calming influence, and His control of all. We need to keep inviting Him into the boat, into our storm and into our worries and fears and failures. Let Jesus have the impossibilities and grow in confidence in His ways.