Sunday, March 7, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Give Jesus a Seat in Your Boat

When I was going to college, my friends and I would go out on the weekends to a nearby lake to do some canoeing. We would rent our canoes and go out for the afternoon. It was fun and we would spend hours out on the lake while enjoying a nice warm spring or summer day.

On one exceptionally hot day, one of my friends decided to take a dip in the lake. I didn’t think much of it until it came time for him to get back in our canoe. Although I was fairly experienced in canoeing, I wasn’t really sure that he could get back into the canoe in deep water. But, you won’t know until you try.

Well, I leaned to the opposite side and held steady as he threw his leg over the side. As more and more weight was added to one side, I leaned more and more to the opposite side to offset the weight. With one leg inside the canoe, he pulled himself inside or, at least, tried. Before we knew it the canoe capsized and we both ended up in the lake. The last thing I saw while I was underwater was my glasses drifting to the bottom of the lake. After about a few feet, I could no longer see them. They were gone.

We managed to get the canoe back to shore and emptied of water. We were fortunate. Everything else stayed in the boat. The only casualty of the day was my glasses. When I got back to my dorm room, I had to call my Mom and ask for my old glasses. She drove them over and we all laughed at the experience.

Capsizing a boat during calm weather is one thing, but losing your boat during a storm is quite another. Although I have never experienced that, I can tell you that it is an experience that isn’t on my bucket list. As I prepared for this message, I read accounts about storms and boats being lost at sea. Those who survive those experiences never quite get over them. They are always a little anxious when they get on a boat. There is just a little fear in their voices when they relate their harrowing experiences.

Our lives are like little boats on a big, big sea. It doesn’t take much for the waves to cause our boats to rock. Fear easily sets in as we wonder what will happen next. Will we survive the moment or will we soon find our boats swamped as we struggle to get to the surface? It doesn’t take much for our boats to get swamped.

Think about your “boat”. Many of us are just one disaster away from our boats being capsized. A diagnosis of cancer or some other malady could easily sweep us overboard. An accident could leave us financially underwater. It wouldn’t take much to swamp our “boats”.

As Christians, we live with the problems of this world daily. But, there is one who helps us get through the troubles we experience. That one is Jesus Christ. He is our anchor, lifejacket and that hand that reaches out for us. 

In chapter six of the Gospel of John, the namesake for this book writes, “That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here!’ Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!”

After the disciples went out on the lake, a storm soon came up. I am sure that when they embarked on their voyage, they didn’t anticipate a storm. They probably thought to themselves that it would be a short little trip and nothing would happen. But, soon the sky turned dark and a storm came up. In time their boat was rocking violently and their fear increased exponentially. As they struggled to row their boat against the tempest, they saw Jesus walking on the water towards them. Needless to say, they didn’t know what was more terrifying, Jesus walking on the water or the gales tossing their boat. Jesus reassured them by telling them not to be afraid. After they let him in the boat, they arrived at their destination without mishap.

As we struggle in our lives to navigate a rough sea, we need to look for Jesus and know that he is there to rescue us and provide us with peace. We don’t have anything to fear. He is right there with us. All we have to do is give him a seat in our boat. Once we do that, he will see to it that we reach our destination. We just need to put our faith completely in him.

Matthew, in chapter fourteen of his gospel, tells us of the story of Jesus walking on the water and how Peter tried to do the same. Jesus tells Peter to come to him. Peter slips over the edge of the boat and walks on water towards Jesus. As the wind came up, Peter lost his focus and sank into the water. Peter calls out to Jesus to save him. Jesus immediately reaches out to Peter and pulls him up out of the water. 

Jesus tells Peter, “You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?”

When we focus on the water, wind and everything else, it is so easy for us to sink beneath the waves and struggle to resurface. We allow fear, uncertainty and doubt to fill our hearts and minds. In time, we may succumb to the waves of our storms. But, we don’t have to do that. If our lives capsize and we are tossed into the water, we just need to call out to our Savior and Lord, Christ Jesus. He will give us his hand and lift us up. We just need to have faith in that and never doubt that he is there.

So, when you face a storm in your life, don’t give up or rely on the things of this world. You need to put your faith in Jesus and know that he is always there with you every step of the way to your destination. Just don’t get distracted and become afraid. You have nothing to fear when you have Jesus sitting in your boat. There is no storm that he can’t calm. There is no gale that he can’t overcome. By remaining focused on him and unshakeable in your faith, you can easily stand firm in His grace. 

 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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