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It All Started With A Storm

How the gospel advances in ways we least expect

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“What you’re currently experiencing is not the end of the story.” My good friend, Rob Reimer, encouraged me with these words several years ago. I’ve thought about them lately as we’ve all adjusted to a new normal in our country with the COVID-19 outbreak. Fear, inconvenience, sickness, financial loss—all of these are realities, but they aren’t the totality of what is happening.

Yes, the presenting narrative needs to be taken seriously, but it isn’t the end. An Author who works through challenging circumstances to further His Kingdom and draw people to Himself is writing a bigger story.

Storm Crisis

Yes, it’s been stormy—no doubt about it. What we’re experiencing makes me think of the disciples in Mark 4. They were in total panic mode during a tempest one night on the lake, while Jesus slept in the boat. They even shook Him to wake Him up, saying, “Don’t you even care? We’re all going to die!” He didn’t respond to the question. Jesus simply stood up, faced the storm, and said, “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 3:39, ESV)

Then, Mark notes, the disciples were even more alarmed, saying to themselves, “Who is this man that even the wind and the waves obey him?” (See Mark 4:41.) Mark spends the rest of his book answering that question.

It is a pretty crazy story. But what happens next is also intriguing.

After that stormy scene, the disciples land (Mark 5) in the Gerasenes region. (I want to give credit here to John Soper, our former VP for Church Ministries, who got me thinking about this story differently years ago.) They likely haven’t been eager to go on this trip—to a place they know won’t receive them well, especially after enjoying some cheerier renown back home with Jesus’ teaching and miracles.

Not only have the disciples almost died on the way to their destination, but when getting out of the boat, a demonized man comes at them screaming. Jesus proceeds to send the guy’s demons into pigs, makes some farmers angry, and they all get run out of town.

The freed man has been an outcast in his community; after he’s liberated from demonization, he pleads to come with Jesus. But he’s refused! Instead, Jesus tells him, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you . . .” (Mark 5:19). Then, Jesus gets back in the boat with the disciples—who I picture standing at least six feet behind him, practicing a different kind of social distancing—and they sail home.

I don’t know how many of you have led mission trips. But getting home after this one would be interesting. How do you quantify the success of this trip? Was the storm that almost killed the disciples worth just that one guy’s release from demons?

Again, the chronological narrative here is only part of what’s really going on—it isn’t the end of the story.

Kingdom Breakout

In Mark 7, Jesus and the disciples make another trip to the Gerasenes. On this return visit, instead of being rushed by a demonized man, they see a crowd gathered to greet them, bringing their sick to Jesus with great expectation.

So, what happened? That one guy seems to have followed Jesus’ instructions from the previous visit: He went and told others what Jesus had done for him—and it started the beginnings of a Kingdom breakout in that region.

When the disciples were in that boat during the storm, all they could see were wind, waves, and certain death. They may not have even wanted to go on this trip in the first place. And, once the storm hit, it would have been natural to think, Why are we even concerned about people in the Gerasenes when we’re facing our own problems? But Jesus had taken them on a journey to teach them a deeper lesson.

The gospel is always advancing. The Kingdom of God does not play by the same rules of worldly power or coercion we’re used to seeing. Jesus gently guides us, calms the storm, and sets people free.

When we’re in a storm, let’s not just see wind and waves but a powerful Savior who is in the boat with us and wants to bring peace—who is likely writing a bigger story and inviting our participation.

Gospel Opportunities

This is good news: Jesus cares deeply about the disciples in the boat and the people in the Gerasenes who had yet to encounter Him. He sees and hears our honest cries for deliverance.

As part of an Alliance family—doing all kinds of ministry in more than 60 countries—this is our story too. Who knows what this storm we’re currently in will create in terms of gospel opportunities for those in desperate need of freedom?

Let us be people of the “both/and”—going to Jesus with our personal requests for His help, yet also seeing and caring for those in our communities and around the world whom He wants to meet in these days. We can hold on for dear life in this storm—realizing that, just like in Mark 5, there will be many stories written in unexpected places and among unforeseen people.

Let’s look to the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who will write sovereign stories of grace and life despite the uncertainties we now face. What we’re now experiencing is not the end of the story.

A Time to Lean In

Throughout this issue, you will notice a common theme. God has not been at rest during the COVID-19 pandemic—in fact, He is opening up new opportunities to demonstrate His love in action and offer His hope and salvation to a hurting world.

As the Body of Christ, now is our time to rise—not to shrink back under the weight of a restricted lifestyle, but to lean in, engage, and further the work He has called each of us to. This is your invitation to engage more deeply and fully with your global Alliance family. Go to:

cmalliance.org/al-connect

3 responses to It All Started With A Storm

  1. I also heard the same story today in another podcast who highlighted that the real mission started after Jesus spoke. That’s really cool.

  2. Love, Love, LOVE THIS! Thank you Tim. Much needed word for me and I am sure for others too.

  3. So many hidden blessings and opportunities!
    Love that story, thanks for the encouragement!

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