August 5, 2020

John 6:16-19 

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened.


The first house we bought as a young family was supposed to be a quick remodel, with the plan to move on 2 or 3 years later. We ended up being in that house for 7 years before we moved to our current home, which is hopefully going to be the last place I ever live. There were many days in those “extra” 4 or 5 years where I felt like the disciples as they rowed, and rowed, and rowed in the darkness. According to most maps, the 3 or 4 miles they rowed should have gotten them safely to their destination. But they weren’t anywhere close to Capernaeum at that point.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you felt like you heard a clear instruction from God, started in the direction of obedience, and found yourself laboring at the “oars” of your life, job, and family? Like me, you may start wondering if you misheard God’s instructions or got off course. At times that is true, but today I want to focus on how to best labor over the oars of obedience. Here’s a few ways we can stay focused in the midst of difficulty.

  1. Remember your initial call. If the disciples were prone to disobeying Jesus when he had spoken to their faces just moments before, how much more difficult is it for us? Still, if we are regularly reflecting on scripture and listening for Jesus’s voice, we can find strength in what we know is true.
  2. Learn to look past your circumstances. One of the most helpful things I’ve heard lately is that you are only in control of one thing. It’s not what happened before. It’s not what is going to happen. It’s not really even what is happening now. You are in control of how you respond to what is happening. Pay attention to the wind and the waves, but only so you can respond to them and continue to row in the direction God initially sent you.
  3. Proactively wait. We think of waiting like when we are at the DMV waiting for our number to be called. We sit on our butts and twiddle our thumbs. But there is a form of waiting that is proactive. Do you long for a spouse? Get out and meet people. Are you unhappy in your job? Start a conversation with your boss on how to improve the culture or your responsibilities. Is your child in a “no” phase? Work on obedience, respect, and affection in your relationship. Those won’t change circumstances immediately, but they are a form of patient obedience.

If you feel like you are laboring over the oars and getting nowhere, is there one of these strategies you could try?

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