*Seeing God Through Shattered Glass*
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Seeing God Through Shattered Glass
by Max Lucado
There is a window in your heart through which you can see God. Once upon a time that window was clear; your view of God was crisp. You could see God's will in your life as vividly as a gentle valley or hillside. The glass was clean; the pane was unbroken.
You knew God. You felt secure in Him and His plan for your life. You knew how He worked. There were no surprises - nothing unexpected. You knew God had a will, and you continually discovered what it was.
Then, suddenly, the window cracked. A pebble broke the window; a pebble of pain. Perhaps the stone struck when you were a child and your father walked away - never to return. Maybe the rock hit in adolescence when your heart was broken. Maybe you made it into adulthood before the window was cracked. But then the stone came.
Was it a phone call? "We have your son at the police station. You'd better come."
Was it a letter on the kitchen table? "I've left. Don't try to reach me. Don't try to call me. It's all over. I just don't love you anymore. I've found someone else."
Did your boss call you in? "We down-sizing and we just don't have room for you. Here is your two-week severance check. I'm sorry."
Was it a diagnosis from your doctor? "I'm afraid our news is not very good."
Was it a telegram? We regret to inform you that your son is missing in action."
Whatever the pebble's form, the result was the same -- a shattered window. The crash echoed down the halls of your heart. Cracks shot out from the point of impact, creating a spider web of fragmented pieces. And, suddenly God's will was not so easy to see. The view that had been so crisp had changed. You turned to God, but He was distorted. It was hard to see Him through the pain. It was hard to see Him through the fragments of hurt.
You were puzzled and angry. God wouldn't allow something like this to happen, would He? How could this be in His plan? Tragedy and travesty weren't on the agenda of the One you had seen, were they? Had you been fooled? Had you been blind?
Most of us know what it means to be disappointed by God. Most of us have a way of completing the sentence: "If God is God, then..."
There would be no financial collapse in my family.
My children will never be buried before me.
My prayers will be answered.
When pain comes into our world -- when the missileing pebble splinters the windows of our heart - these expectations go unmet and doubts begin to surface.
We look for God, but can't find Him. Fragmented glass hinders our vision.
In the Gospel story we are examining (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6) where Jesus hears of His cousin John the Baptist's death, heals the sick and lame, feeds five thousand with only a few loaves of bread and a few fish, and hears the crowd proclaim Him King, Jesus' disciples weren't sure what they saw either. Jesus failed to meet their expectations. He didn't do what they expected and wanted Him to do.
The Twelve returned from a successful mission trip where they had healed the sick and cast out demons (Luke 9:1-6) with an army of followers and supporters. They finished their training; they recruited the soldiers; they were ready for battle. The Kingdom of God was at hand, and they were the leaders to usher it in. They expected Jesus to let the crowds crown Him king and overthrow the Roman oppressors. Israel would be restored to the greatness she knew under King David, only greater. The disciples expected battle plans, strategies, a new era for Israel.
What did they get -- just the opposite? Instead of weapons, they got oars! Rather than being sent to fight, they were sent to float. The crowds were sent away. Jesus walked away. And they were left on the water with a storm brewing in the sky.
What kind of Messiah is this?
"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat was a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it." (Matthew 14: 22-24)
Or as the New King James Version reads, "the wind was contrary."
It was evening -- about 6 PM. The storm struck immediately. The sun had scarcely set before typhoon-like winds began to roar. Note that Jesus sent the disciples into the storm alone. Even as Jesus was ascending the mountainside, He was aware of the torrent that was coming that would carpet-bomb the sea's surface. But, Jesus didn't turn around. The disciples were left to face the storm... alone.
The greatest storm that night was not in the sky; it was in the disciples' hearts. Surely Jesus will help us, they thought. They'd seen Him still storms like this before. On the same sea, they had awakened Him during a similarly violent storm, and He had commanded the skies to be silent. (Luke 8:22-25) They'd seen Him quit the wind and soothe the waves. Surely He will come off that mountain.
But He doesn't. Their arms begin to ache from rowing -- still no sign of Jesus. Three hours, four hours -- the winds rage. The tiny fishing vessel bounces from wave to wave -- still no Jesus. Midnight comes; their eyes search for God -- in vain.
By now the disciples have been on the sea for as much as six hours. All this time they have fought the storm and sought the Master. And, so far, the storm is winning. And, the Master is nowhere to be found. What went wrong? Earlier in the day they were ready to conquer the world and usher in God's Kingdom on earth. And now they are about to die at sea in a typhoon-like storm.
"Where is He?" one probably cried.
"Has He forgotten us?" another may have wondered.
"He feeds thousands of strangers and yet He leaves us to die." Another likely muttered as the waves crashed into the boat.
The Gospel of Mark adds compelling insight into the disciples' attitude. "They had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened." (Mark 6:52) What does Mark mean? Simply that the disciples were mad! They began the evening in a huff. Their hearts were hardened toward Jesus because He fed the multitude when they wanted to send them home. Jesus told them to feed the people but the wouldn't even try; they said it couldn't be done.
And remember that the disciples were celebrities of a sort. They had rallied crowds; they had recruited an army. They were pretty proud of themselves when they told Jesus just to send the crowds away.
Jesus didn't though. Instead he chose to bypass them and use the faith of a reluctant boy. What the disciples thought couldn't be done was done - in spite of them, not through them.
They pouted; they sulked. Instead of being amazed at the miracle, they became mad at the Master. After all, they had felt foolish passing out the very bread they said could not be made. Add to that Jesus command to go to the boat when they were ready to do battle, and it's easy to see why these guys were fuming.
It's 1:00 AM, no Jesus.
It's 2:00 AM, no Jesus.
The disciples were bone weary from fighting the storm. Peter, Andrew, James, and John have seen storms like this. They were fishermen; the sea was their life. They'd attended the funerals. They knew better than any that this night could be their last. They were freighted. "Why doesn't He come?" they sputter.
Finally He does. "During the fourth watch of the night (between 3 AM and 6 AM) Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake." (Matthew 14:25)
Jesus came. He finally came. But, between verses 24 -- being buffeted by the waves -- and 25 -- when Jesus comes -- a thousand questions were asked. Questions you have probably asked, too. Perhaps you know the anguish of being suspended between verses 24 and 25. Maybe you are riding a storm, searching the coastline for a light, for a glimmer of hope. You know Jesus is aware of your storm. But as hard as you look to find Him, you cannot see Him. Maybe your heart like the disciples' hearts has been hardened by unmet expectations. Your pleadings for help are salted with angry questions.
Storms attack your faith. Storms destroy. Storms come like a missile. Storms usher in night.
The question of storms is, "Where is God, and why would He do this?"
The pebble of pain has struck your heart. You may be in the midst of a typhoon-like storm in your own life. You know the horror of looking for God's face and seeing only His back as He ascends the mountainside leaving you to face your storm alone.
But this story from the Gospels has a message for all who know the anxiety of searching for God in the storm. When you can't see Him, trust Him! The figure you see is not a ghost. The voice you hear is not then wind.
Jesus is closer than you've ever dreamed. He won't ever leave you or forsake you!
Adapted from the book In The Eye of the Storm -- by Max Lucado Used by Permission
Send Max an e-mail and let him know what you thought of his story!
With more than 28 million books in print, Max Lucado has touched millions with his signature storytelling writing style. Awards and accolades follow Max with each book he writes. Max is the first author to win the Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year three times--1999 for Just Like Jesus, 1997 for In the Grip of Grace and 1995 for When God Whispers Your Name.
In 1994, he became the only author to have 11 of his twelve books in print simultaneously appear on paperback, hardcover and children's CBA bestseller lists. Lucado set a new industry record by concurrently placing seven different Word titles on the CBA Hardcover Bestseller List in both March and April 1997. A Max Lucado title has appeared on the CBA hardcover bestseller list every month for the past seven years. His newest book, A Love Worth Giving, was released in September 2002 and You Are Special recently won a Gold Medallion award in the Inspirational category.
Max serves as the pulpit minister of the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas. But he says his greatest accomplishment is finding a one-in-a-million wife in Denalyn and having three unbelievable daughters: Jenna, Andrea, and Sara.
You can visit his web site at: http://www.maxlucado.com
Thought For The Day:
"If you were given a nickname descriptive of your character, would you be proud of it?"
Verse for the Day:
"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches."--Proverbs 22:1
Kid's Thought for the Day:
"If splashing in puddles means you have to wear wet shoes the rest of the day, sometimes it's worth it."
Parent's Thought For The Day
"A major problem these days is how to save money for your children's college education when you're still paying for yours."
Coach's Thought For The Day
"I have had players who are good, and know they are good; I have had players who are bad and know they are bad; I have had players who are good, but who don't know they are good; I have had players who are bad, but who don't know they are bad. It is this last group that has won more games for me than the first three groups combined." --Paul "Bear" Bryant
Writer's Thought For the Day:
"As I write, I don't think about the readers, the sales, the movies. I think about the story. If I get it right, everything else falls into place." --John Grisham
Deep Thought For The Day:
"A mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep."
I have a prayer request that is of a magnitude I have never prayed before and don't even know if I should pray it. Our town, Pierce City Missouri suffered a massive tornado almost 3 weeks ago. It destroyed every business in town so that there is no revenue at all. You cannot even purchase a can of pop here, no newspaper or anything. WE are feeding many people every day--those who have lost their homes and those who are doing the demolition and clean-up. It is totally awesome to see the power of God's people at work. There is only one church able to hold services although their school received tremendous damage. Their gym is okay and that is where we are serving. We have had so many volunteers coming in town to help. I ask for prayer for these folks who are working so hard, for those who lost loved ones and homes, for those who are devastated to the point of hopelessness.
The thing dearest to many of us is the library. It was almost new and beginning to be a focal point in our town of only 1400 people. We were just beginning to get the children to come in and totally enjoy the story hours and activities we have planned. We will be rebuilding within the next few months, but what we are going to need is new books and those which are donated are adult ones. I am suspecting that the reason it isn't children's is the expense. At any rate, we are going to come back and be what the kids need since there is nothing else for them. The swimming pool will be open for about 5 weeks due to donation from an insurance man and a chemical company that will donate all the chemicals.
Sorry this is so long, but we are in such need of prayer. Thanks for carrying this to your heart. Very sincerely, Judy Bowman email@example.com
MICHAEL T. POWERS
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20
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