A year ago today things in my life looked very different.
After making the decision to follow our heart and leave our life of comfort and stability, we found ourselves struggling to settle in a foreign land, living on a student’s budget with no job and no foreseeable outlook beyond the next 3 months.
We didn’t know that in just another 2 days TJ would be called back to the company he’d just interviewed for, nor that he would be offered a permanent job at that meeting.
We couldn’t foresee that 1 year down the road we’d be living comfortably on a single income, enjoying the land and sights of this beautiful country, while doing the work that God has laid on our hearts to do.
All we knew at the time were our doubts, our questions, our anxiety. All we could see were the repeated disappointments, our dwindling funds, and an uncertain future looming large before us.
I wished I could say that during this time we dug deep and stood strong in the faith, praying incessantly and feeding on God’s Word and listening to faith-building messages night and day. Yes, we prayed. Yes, we listened, read, and confessed the Word. But most of what we did was just living from day to day, trying to figure things out by our own smarts and cope using our own efforts.
In truth, we did more stressing than resting in His love and grace. Nonetheless, God still showed up and came through for us.
Kind of like what happened with the disciples that night on the sea of Galilee. After healing the multitudes and feeding the 5,000, Jesus had sent them into the boat to meet Him on the other side of the great lake, while He went up to the high mountain to pray alone.
As night fell, a storm arose in the sea, and the disciples found themselves stuck in the middle of the sea, in a wooden boat tossed around by the wind and waves, frantically bailing water out of the boat and in real peril of capsizing and losing their lives.
The Bible tells us that they struggled like this against the storm for most of the night. There was no record of them ever praying or calling out to the Lord to come to them and help them.
Just a few hours before, they had seen Jesus perform numerous miracles of healing after healing. They had seen Him multiply 5 loaves and 2 fishes in their very hands to feed somewhere around 15,000 people (including women and children).
But when they faced a storm at sea, the disciples reverted to facing it the way they knew how as fishermen – bailing, heaving, and striving by their own strength. They panicked. And they stressed.
And at their darkest hour, in the fourth watch of the night (between 3-6 am), Jesus went to them. On His own accord, out of His love and grace. He had seen them struggling from atop the mountain, and His love and compassion moved Him to go to His disciples who needed Him.
Jesus came to them walking on the water, striding authoritatively above their storm. He calmed their fears straightaway, stilled the storm, and got them to their destination the moment He entered the boat.*
They didn’t ask or call out to Him, but He came to them anyway. They were lacking in faith even though they had just witnessed His wondrous miracles, but He showed them again and lifted their faith and their spirits again anyway.
His is a love you can rely on.
Jesus always shows up to comfort, encourage, lift up, and bring you to where you need to be in the midst of a storm.
He is the good Shepherd who not just lays down His life for His sheep, but who cares dearly and tenderly for each and every one of them. His sheep – His people – will never be found wanting or lacking.
One of the things that brought us great comfort during those first few months was the numerous appearances of rainbows that we kept seeing wherever we went. We would be walking to the supermarket and we would see a rainbow. We would be driving on the road and we would see at least one. We even saw one when we drove to the other side of Auckland and stopped by to check out some stuff.
A double rainbow was there at the time of TJ’s interview. A full rainbow was there again on the day of his job offer. Every time something big came up or we needed assurance and encouragement, a rainbow appeared.
We saw so many rainbows in the first 3 months of our move here that we dubbed New Zealand ‘The Land of Rainbows’ to family and friends. Until we stopped seeing them for the next 12 months, and we realised that it wasn’t a New Zealand thing, nor was it a seasonal occurrence, it was simply a loving reminder from our loving Abba Father whenever we needed it.
It brought us comfort and encouragement because it reminded us of the Lord’s presence and promise. The rainbow first appeared after the flood, when God told Noah that He would set His rainbow in the sky as a sign of His covenant that never again would there be a flood like this to destroy all life on earth (Genesis 9:11-17). The rainbow is a sign of His grace, and His everlasting promise.
Today, because of what Jesus has done at the cross for us (as depicted in Isaiah 53), God has promised that He will never again be angry with us nor rebuke us, but His kindness and covenant of peace shall not depart from us (Isaiah 54:9-10).
Once we believe on Jesus, this promise becomes our reality. We step into this promise by believing that Jesus has done it all for us, and that there’s nothing more we need to do to realise this promise.
And because of what Jesus has done, because of God’s unfailing promise, His blessings that are unmerited and undeserved will surely flow into your life, to comfort you, encourage you, and bring you to your destination.
You may be in a different situation. You may be facing a different storm. Life can throw some pretty hard curveballs, because we are still living in a fallen world.
I don’t mean that you have to go looking out for rainbows or any such signs. Nor do you have to take a sudden leap of faith so that God can begin to work mightily in your life.
All I am saying is whatever your situation, whatever your fear, whatever your doubts or questions, you can be sure that if Jesus is in your life, He will show up.
Even if you may forget to seek Him, He will come to you. Even if you are stressing and freaking out, He will calm and comfort you. Even if you are lost or struggling to get out of a rut, He will get you out and put you on solid ground. Simply because He loves you, and His love never fails.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.
*The account of Jesus coming to the disciples on the water is recorded in Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:15-21.