When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gaderenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. (Matthew 8:28)
Just prior to this opening statement of the account of Jesus and the demoniacs, was the great storm that Jesus calmed while the disciples were afraid. So often we view the storm and this account separately. But if we view them together the purpose of the storm becomes clearer – it was not about filling the disciples with fear but about keeping the Christ from arriving at the other side.
Recently, my family and a group of friends stepped into a boat and have shoved away from shore on the adventure of a lifetime. In February of 2009 we will launch a new church in the Oklahoma City metro area. When we started the journey it was fun and gentle flowing. As we are moving closer to launch date, the storms have grown. Pressure is mounting. Many give up at this stage in the church plant because they lose the ability to see what awaits them on the other side. It is so easy to allow the storms to occupy the full focus of our sight.
Perhaps the reason for this is that when we face storms in our lives we forget that they will pass. We get blind-sided by them. We lose focus. We forget the purpose for which we stepped into the boat and pushed out on the waters of destiny. For Jesus, this short trip would introduce a new region to the power of God through the healing of the demoniacs. A land that was oppressed with demon powers would see to the light of God.
Storms are temporary. There is always a purpose for them in our lives – a reason that we encounter them when we do. Many are not mere chance. If we can keep our eyes focused on the purpose for which we have pushed out into the waters of the unknown, then when the storms come we will find the ability to not respond in fear but to understand what is really going on. They are attempting to keep us from our destiny or appointed task from God. Thus, fear is not an option. For on the other side of the storm we will see why we had to go through them.
God, give me sight that sees through the troubles and storms of life. Help me to recognize why they have come and to respond in faith instead of fear. Give me clear vision as to my purpose so that I will fulfill your will. When I am troubled and distressed, may my eyes look up in faith and my heart resound with assurance that on the other side of the storms I will encounter You.