Left but Not Leaving Me

A couple of months ago I started reading through the Gospel of John. I’d read it numerous times throughout my life, sat in on countless Sunday school lessons and sermons and small group studies and Bible classes on it. Still, no matter how many times I read a particular book of the Bible, I’m amazed at how often I can re-read it and discover some little nugget of information or pearl of wisdom that I hadn’t noticed before then.

Take, for example, the passage in John 6 where Jesus walks on the water. A little back story for those unfamiliar or who have may have forgotten: Jesus’ disciples are in a boat out on the Sea of Galilee one night when a storm came up. While they’re trying to row to safety and having no success, Jesus suddenly appears walking on the water toward them. They are, naturally, scared out of their wits but Jesus tells them to stop freaking out, that He’s there and has everything under control. He climbs into the boat with them, they immediately arrive at their destination and all is well. The end.

Now, even though I’ve read that story many times before, this latest time I noticed this:

That evening his [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 out across the lake toward Capernaum. (John 6:16-17, emphasis mine)

I’d never noticed before that the disciples were supposed to wait on Jesus. I had just assumed that, for some unknown reason, they were traveling without Him. I don’t know how long the disciples had to wait or what kept Him from showing up earlier, but I imagine they were anxious to get to the other side before it got too dark. Maybe they saw the storm brewing and thought they could beat it. At any rate, they didn’t wait on Jesus. And trouble ensued.

Perhaps the storm wouldn’t have come up if they’d had Jesus with them from the get go. Or maybe, if they’d waited on Him, they would have seen the storm coming and wisely decided to stay put. Maybe they could have avoided danger if they’d just waited a little while longer for Jesus to appear.

Personal application time–how often have there been situations that I could have avoided if I’d just waited a little while longer? How many times have I tried to “help” out a situation and ended up creating a bigger mess because I got tired of waiting on God to come through? I know that there are some storms that we go through for no fault of our own but rather to test our faith (see the story of Job for an extreme example), but there have probably been quite a few messes that I could have sidestepped if I’d been patient and trusted God to deliver at the right time.

Now, getting back to John 6, here’s the really cool part–despite the disciples basically ditching Him at the seashore, Jesus still came to meet them. He still rescued them. He still brought them to their destination. I don’t know if He gave them a little lecture on leaving Him behind; John’s a little vague about the aftermath. But I find it incredibly encouraging that, even though He got left behind, Jesus didn’t leave His terrified disciples. He still came to them in their time of need and delivered them. And so I take heart in knowing that, although there have been and will continue to be times when I grow tired of waiting on God and lose heart, He does not give up on me. He continues to be my Deliverer, my Strength, my Provider. He can even redeem unwise and hasty actions I’ve taken and use them for His good.

How glad I am that I’m re-reading the book of John. I can’t wait to see what other lessons I’m going to learn through it.

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