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When your best is not enough

Updated: Apr 30

Are you struggling and getting nowhere? Have you given your all and realized it is not good enough?


Maybe God is wanting something else from you!


Mark chapter 6 tells a familiar story many of us have heard. Jesus had just performed an amazing miracle of feeding 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two small fish. After the people were full, the disciples took up 12 baskets of leftovers. 


On the heels of this miracle-filled day, Jesus wants some time alone to pray and tells his disciples to get in the boat and go to the other side, where he will meet up with them later. I imagine the disciples were amazed at what they had just seen. Did they know that often, your biggest struggle comes right after your greatest victory?


As Jesus is praying on the mountain, they find themselves in a storm. Although several of them are seasoned fishermen with years of nautical experience, they find themselves unable to make progress against the howling winds. As evening fell, Jesus saw them out on the water around eight o'clock. One small problem: he does not come to their rescue until 7 to 9 hours later. Even worse, He waited until the darkest time of the night, which was about 3 AM.


Is this you? Have you been battling a storm and feel as though God is watching you without coming to your rescue? Do you find yourself wondering if he really cares?


Finally, Jesus leaves the mountain but now does something else many of us have questioned. Instead of walking on the water straight to the disciples, he only walks in view of them, and the scripture says He would have passed them by. Why would He not come straight to them? 


I'm convinced the answer is fairly obvious. Jesus makes Himself available to us but never forces Himself upon us. It is NOT His obligation to intervene; it is our obligation to ask. Too often, we fight battles in our own strength. We think we can handle problems and rely on our power, experience, influence, etcetera…rather than on Christ. There are times when God delays intervening until we can grasp the futility of our own strength.


As Jesus passes near the twelve, they think he is a ghost and are terrified. They do not recognize Him. Are you like me? Do you often not recognize the Lord… especially in the fog of trouble? Do you wrongly think that all adversity could never have been ordained by Christ when often it is the Lord who initiates challenges to bring you closer…to reveal a miracle?


John's account tells us that when He identified Himself, the disciples received Him. Receiving Him is not only the foundation of our relationship but also the key to continual spiritual growth. While accepting His blessings and rewards is easy, we often push back against receiving His correction, discipline, and the occasional den of lions.


When Jesus steps in the boat, He says two important things we all need to remember. The first statement is worded in two different ways depending on your translation; "be of good cheer" or "take courage." In essence, it is the encouragement of peace and assurance. A simple reminder that once the Lord shows up, there is nothing to worry about…that all is well.


The next words Jesus speaks are, "Do not be afraid." We know fear and faith cannot coexist at the same time. We cannot walk in both simultaneously because they are the antithesis of each other. Hebrews 11 tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith. When fear is ruling us, it is a reminder that we have abandoned trust in Christ. 


Then Jesus stepped inside the boat, and the wind immediately ceased, becoming as calm as glass. Talk about reassurance!! Wow!! Great problems are often the crib of the greatest miracles!


As we near the end of the story, Mark 6:52 makes a perplexing statement. "For they [the disciples] had not understood about the loaves because their heart was hardened." When I read this, I was confused, I mean, how could you have a hardened heart and not grasp the miraculous feeding of the five thousand???? 


When you study this verse in Greek, it reveals that the disciples did not consider the miracle they had witnessed hours before. They were blind and spiritually dull to the heavenly buffet Jesus had given the masses. 


I criticized them in my mind when I discovered this. How could you so quickly forget God's deliverance? How could you doubt that Jesus would take care of you as he did the multitudes? As I began to blame them internally, I saw how often I do the same thing in my own life. 


When trouble hits, I often gravitate toward worry or fear. Instead of taking courage from God's past deliverance, I become so focused on the current dilemma that I lose sight of the present provision. My problems can too easily cloud my vision, faith, and ability to recognize or trust Christ.


The truth is this: my best and yours are often not enough or what God wants from us. The disciples were rowing for all they were worth but making little to no progress. Jesus didn't want their best efforts; He wanted their faith. He wanted them to understand that their greatest need was to turn their problem over to Him so He could accomplish what they were incapable of achieving. 


And this is exactly what He wants from you!


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