Matthew 14:25 says, “During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.” This seems like a straightforward Scripture, but the part that challenges me is this: Jesus does not need my boat.
Our boat is anything we possess that enables us to do our job, fulfill our calling and arrive at out God-chosen destination. It could be our experiences, titles, education, salary, family connections or possessions. But Jesus, after making the disciples get into the boat and encounter a storm, walked across the water to be with them. Jesus did not need their boat.
Too often we (which means, of course, primarily me) assume that God has brought us to this certain place, endowed us with these certain gifts, allowed us to experience those particular things because He is going to use them for this particular purpose. But we deceive ourselves when we think we have the plans of God all figured out. Jesus does not need our boat.
There was a time, of course, when Jesus chose to use our boat. In Luke 5:1-3, Jesus used Peter’s boat in order to teach the crowds that had gathered around Him. Afterward, Jesus instructed Peter to go back out and fish, even though they had fished all night and caught nothing. Their catch after obeying the Lord was so large it almost sank Peter’s boat (Luke 5:7).
Later in our walk with Jesus, He shows us He has other means of accomplishing the purposes of God for our life. He wants us to grow beyond the safety and security of our known talents and abilities. Jesus wants us to learn that just about the time we think we’ve got the methods and motives of God figured out, He purposely sends us into a storm so that He can scare the wits out of us by appearing in a form we least expect.
Sometimes the storm is a financial scare so He can appear in the form of our Provider. We thought we were providing everything for our family, but God reminds us that everything we have comes from Him (1 Chron. 29:14).
Other times we think it is our education or vocational connections that will land us that career we’ve always wanted, but then a call comes from someone we don’t know and we enter into a career we never imagined.
After four years of Bible College and two years of completing a Masters in Ministry, I’m finding that everything I thought I knew about being a pastor has brought me headlong into a storm that seems to be taking me further and further from the shore of church ministry. For some reason, I find that my life’s testimony is more effective on a construction site than in a church classroom, and unsaved men are changing their behavior because I walk into a room. However, I know it is not me they are responding to, but the Jesus within me.
Only now am I starting to realize that Jesus doesn’t need my boat — my education, teaching techniques, study habits, etc. — to lead me in His direction. And to tell you the truth, the vision I am now getting of God is scary, amazing, and unknowable all at the same time. I sometimes feel like I’m in the middle of a lake, pulling against the oars and drifting further and further from my goal. However, I know that one day I will arrive on the shore of His choosing, at the time of His appointing, to do the work of His anointing. We may not arrive there in my boat, but we will arrive there just the same.