Hello, again! I am so happy you are back to read part two of what we began last week! If you missed last week’s post, you can read it by clicking HERE. Last Monday, we discussed being picked last by God. The apostles felt this way in Mark 6:30-44. They had been working diligently for Christ, and returned to tell Him all they accomplished. But, upon returning, do not get to go to a solitary place to receive His wisdom and thanks for their work. Instead, a massive crowd has gathered around the popular Jesus. Jesus does not the tell the crowd to go away or come back tomorrow. He has compassion on them and chooses to minister the crowd over the disciples. He has the disciples serve the masses with a miracle of provision, and then He teaches to the people. Once again, step into the sandals of an apostle and see the scene through his eyes and thoughts:
After the crowd eats, and the crumbs from the meal are picked up, Jesus teaches. He tells the people parables, scriptures, and truths. You try to concentrate on His words, but the grudge and hurt you are holding makes it hard to focus on Him. Finally, the event is over, the people disperse and you begin to hope Jesus will now take you and the other apostles to a solitary place, as He said. You all still have more to tell Him about your travels and all you have done. But, instead of going with you, He sends you all out on the boat, and He goes off by himself to pray. The resentment you have been holding multiplies. He still will not spend time with you! Instead, He wants you to row across the sea without Him. Fine. You will go out on the boat and do more work while He goes away alone.You have been overlooked enough (Mark 6:45-46).
Later that night, the wind is against your sails and all 12 of you are working tirelessly to keep the boat moving forward. You row and row to make little progress. Your tired bodies and spirits are noticeable to one another, and the group morale is at an all-time low. Suddenly, through the hard winds, a figure is seen out on the water. Everyone becomes frightened. Is this a water spirit? A demon coming to harm you? (Mark 6:47-50)
I have been at this same point in my life as the apostle. I was working tirelessly because I loved the Lord and enjoyed the work. But then, as I became fatigued and saw how others were making further progress and getting attention from Him I was not, my heart became hardened toward God. At the time, I did not realize how dangerous a hardened heart is. Let’s reflect on what a hardening heart resulted in for this apostle:
- First, he began working no longer for the Lord, but for recognition. He did not want to serve the crowds but only his own desires (Mark 6:35-36).
- Second, he began to doubt God. His first solution to feeding the crowds was using money they did not have to buy provisions. You would think, after following Jesus, he would know Jesus would find a way to provide (Mark 6:37).
- Third, he let fear overtake him out on the water, instead of trusting in Jesus. (Mark 6:49)
The results this apostle experienced are the exact results I had. And you will, too, if you let your heart become hard. When I felt overlooked in my writing ministry, I began writing for likes and comments and not for the Lord. I doubted if writing was what I should be doing, even though the Lord had led me there. And then, I feared I had made a mistake. What if I failed at this task I had been asked by God to pursue? Everyone would see my failure.
Let’s finish the apostle’s story in Mark:
Your fear is making your heart race. The boat is rocking, and this figure is walking closer to you. Is your life about to end? You begin to scream as fear overtakes you. Suddenly, the figure answers your cries, and you realize it is Jesus on the water. This is no evil spirit, but the Messiah himself. He gets in the boat, calms the winds working against you, and your hardened heart becomes soft again. You are amazed. Your fear was unwarranted. He came to save you (Mark 6:51-52).
Like the apostle, my hardened heart was leading to destruction. I was in a boat going nowhere, making no gains, and allowing fear to rule me. Thankfully, Jesus got in my boat, calmed the stormy winds of my thoughts, and made me realize the state I had let my heart get to. You see, maybe Jesus has chosen me last in this area of my life for the same reasons He chose the crowd over the apostles. I am chosen last to gain a lesson taught with love.
What lessons from God did the apostle gain by being chosen last?
- A softened heart is a must. A soft heart is what we all must have to stay in a meaningful and rich relationship with Jesus.
- Fears are eased. Not only is the apostle and his companions no longer afraid, I believe they now see how unwarranted their fears were. Jesus has their back. He is a Savior and has shown this time and time again.
What a day! From returning to Jesus in the morning, to feeding the 5,000 at lunch, to now ending the night with the Messiah walking on water to save you. I can only imagine how amazed the apostle we journeyed with felt. I hope you are feeling amazed, too. I am.
Friends, I pray you exit out of this post with this firm truth stamped on your heart:
God might have chosen you last because there’s a lesson He needs you to learn.
Is the lesson about your heart? If you are feeling overlooked, it is possible your heart has become hardened. Fatigue, weariness, and a sinful desire to compare yourself to others has made you forget the amazing plan God has designed for you and mankind since the beginning of creation.
Are you doubting God? Perhaps He hasn’t yet chosen you because your doubts are getting in the way of your success. Like the apostles, is your first reaction to use half a year’s wages instead of seeking the provision Jesus offers?
Maybe, before being chosen, you need to let go of some fears and trust in Him more. You need to trust His plans, His truths, and that He is always there to save you. Your boat is being tossed around and you’re frightened. All you need to do is look for Jesus walking on the water toward you.
He sure has taught me some needed lessons. I have learned to not overlook His power and plan in the midst of a hardened heart. And to not let fear and doubt hide from me the amazing God He is.
He is a God who has commissioned each of us with a task. A God with compassion on the people. A God who feeds the thousands. A God who walks on water. A God who saves.
Next time we begin to no longer enjoy serving Him and have doubts combined with fears, I hope we remember the apostle and his hardened heart. We must stop feeling overlooked, and instead look to Him.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read Humbled or Hardened?