Finding God on the Waters by Chuck Swindoll
I need to tell you that my wife, Cynthia, and I love to set sail! The moment our feet step onto the gangway, we enter a world… set apart. We exhale and slowly begin to relax. The day takes on a different tempo. Our hearts seem to beat better.
With Insight for Living Ministries, we’ve been blessed to travel often. Every time, it’s an opportunity to rekindle our marriage, connect with family and friends, deepen our faith, and share God’s truth. He has taken us across many marvelous waters…
Alaska the Beautiful
Majestic is the only word that describes it! Towering mountain ranges with snow-capped peaks silhouette against a deep-blue sky. Magnificent glaciers shed massive sheets of ice into a foaming sea. Sometimes the most memorable parts of our adventure are the unpredictable ones: when you’re on deck at the exact moment a humpback whale leaps clear of the water—or the northern lights ripple the night sky. Even more wondrous? That moment when you hear God’s voice spoken through His Word with His majestic handiwork all around.
The Amazing Mediterranean
On the Mediterranean Sea, my imagination takes me back—two thousand years—to when the Apostle Paul sailed these same waters. Did he see that shoreline… sail past that island? I can almost see him in the boat, watching the sunset beside me. I close my eyes, breathe in the salty air. My heart pumps harder as I imagine the excitement that coursed through Paul as he set out with the Gospel and God’s call.
And then, there is Israel
For thousands of years, no place has been more meaningful to God’s children. God used the geography of the Holy Land to shape the lives of His people in the Bible—and He is doing the same today. Israel’s rugged landscape invites you to find refuge in God alone. Its fertile valleys remind you to follow your Shepherd to places of rest. Jerusalem’s position at the center of the world announces that God rules the nations.
For me, though, nothing compares to the Sea of Galilee. It has always been one of my favorite places to meet Jesus. No grand cathedrals, no ornate decorations—it’s just a simple body of water. Yet, on this sea, astounding things happened.
Once, after a busy day of ministry, Jesus sent His disciples ahead in a boat. Late at night, a terrifying storm arose. The men struggled against the wind and the waves, fearing for their lives. Then, in the middle of the tempest, Jesus stepped onto the sea.
He walked across the water, all the way to their little boat in the midst of the crashing waves, and “…spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’” (Matthew 14:27). In other words, He wanted them to know, ‘If I’m here, the boat won’t sink. If you’re with Me, you’re safe.’
Then, something else miraculous happened. He climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped.
A Supernatural Calm
When you’re fishing out in a bay or on a lake, there are times when the wind dies down completely, and the surface of the water becomes absolutely still. If you’ve fished much, you know what I’m talking about. Growing up in South Texas, we fished often. My grandfather and my father would call that very smooth water “a slick.” Isn’t that a good word for it? A slick. One time, my granddaddy reached into his pocket and pulled out a penny. “Watch this, little Charles,” he said, flipping that penny onto the smooth water. As it fell into the bay, I counted the ripples.
Now, that slick in South Texas had been forming for an hour or more that quiet morning. But that stormy night in Galilee, the slick immediately formed. I picture the boat still rocking and the water slick. Can you see it? What a great lesson about God’s peace in the midst of life’s storms!
Releasing Your Burdens on the Sea
Think of the last storm that raged in your life. It may have arisen in your family—an illness you never saw coming. Or the place where you work—a downsizing that left some jobless and others overburdened. Perhaps it happened in your church or your marriage, or the breakup of such.
That storm kicked up on the sea of your life, leaving you feeling alone and striking fear in your heart as you looked ahead at the angry waves. But looking back, you can pinpoint the moment Jesus stepped into your boat; can’t you?
Cynthia and I will never forget those times—and there have been many—where life felt like a terrifying storm that would never calm. Then the Lord Jesus stepped onboard and the water became a slick. The boat still rocked a little, but He was there and in control.
More than any place else on earth, I am aware of God’s calming presence while rocking ever so gently in a boat on the placid waters of the Sea of Galilee. Whatever burden I’ve been carrying, I picture it like that penny in my granddaddy’s hand. Scripture resonates in my heart: ‘Don’t be afraid…Take courage. I am here!’ I look out over the water where Jesus first spoke those words.
Then… I let go.