When the Subtle Things in Scripture Stir Your Heart

This blog first appeared on Kingdom Winds. 

Subtle things have a way of becoming normal or expected. We gloss over them, often without even a thought. It is why opening the Word of God and not just remembering what it says is so important. It is alive, and it teaches us fresh things every single time.

My family and I do a weekly Bible study at home that my husband does with some men he disciples. We are currently studying some of the “Great Events in the Bible.” Last week, we studied the time when Jesus calmed the storm. One of the questions asked us to examine the differences, if any, of this event in the Gospels.

Like a good student, I got out my Bible, a pen, and a piece of paper. Verse by verse, I read what the Scriptures say in Matthew 8:23–27, Mark 4:35–41, and Luke 8:22–25. It’s a familiar story, so it is easy to think you know the story and “wing it.” But something this time led me to dig deeper. As I wrote out what each verse said; this subtle difference in the account of Mark has been on my mind since.

“Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.” – Mark 4:36, NIV

I don’t know about you, but I am not sure I’ve ever thought about or heard someone speak about anyone other than Jesus and the disciples in the boat. This story is about Jesus questioning the disciples’ faith as they feared they were about to die in a storm they suddenly found themselves in. Oh, by the way, that line right there is so rich in material for a future conversation about how we suddenly and without warning find ourselves in a storm.

This “there were other boats around, in, or near the storm moment” for me was like a gut-punch. I don’t know how your life is going in the Kingdom, but at times, I feel like I am on the outside watching other people do the Lord’s work while I am struggling to figure out how to get on that team.

And then, the Spirit whispers to me, “You are on My team. Stop worrying about all the others.”
It’s this verse in Mark 4:36 that has me agitated right now…agitated in a good way. You see, people other than the disciples witnessed Jesus calming the storm. This miracle wasn’t just for the disciples and for Jesus to talk to them about their faith; it was for the people in the other boats, too. It’s also still for us today.

We don’t know how far off they were to Jesus’s boat, but this storm wasn’t like a cartoon-character storm where the rainstorm floats just on top of the boat. This was a wild storm flooding water into the disciple’s boat. It was so treacherous these experienced fishermen believed they were going to die. Surely the people in the other boats thought they were going to also die.

I wonder if their eyes could see or their ears could hear Jesus commanding the sea to stop? How did this moment affect the people in the other boats? We know this moment challenged the disciples when Jesus questioned their faith and they questioned, “Who is this man?”

I’m agitated because I desperately want to be used by God to usher in change for this generation and future generations. I firmly believe that I would have been one of those who jumped in a boat to follow Jesus but wasn’t part of his “inner circle” boat. But as I have grown in my walk with the Lord, it doesn’t matter if I am part of the “inner circle” (whomever that might be in today’s context) or one of many following Jesus just to simply be near to Him. The people in the other boats had to make a choice who they were going to believe in as well as what would transpire after they made that decision. So many people in the Bible are unnamed and not known by us, but they are known by God. That is all that is important.

Greater than our need for more politics, climate control, and other hot topics of today, we need a spiritual awakening in our country. We (Christians) need to do a better job at reaching out to the spiritual orphans of this generation. If we can be bystanders and witness the spiritual change blowing through places like Iran but limit the power of God in the US to party lines and man-made laws, we are missing out on a blessing that could shape generations to come here in our land. I don’t want to be a witness to a move of God somewhere else. I want to be a part of a move of God right here, right now.

If Jesus has laid this burning on your heart, keep pressing in. We know without a doubt from historical accounts that more than just the twelve disciples affected the spiritual change that radically shaped the spiritual landscape of the early Church. We also know throughout history that Kingdom-influencing work hasn’t all been done by full-time ministry people. God uses the willing, and let me not-so-subtly remind you that the call for Christians is to be willing to love, reach, and share the Gospel.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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