Running in a race, the start and finish are very exciting. The adrenalin builds up before the race begins. As the crowd swells, the announcer gives final instructions and you strain to hear the sound of the horn signaling the start. Anticipation and excitement push you forward along the route. I am no exception to this rush as I ran for the first five minutes when less than twenty-four hours before, I could not even manage a minute. As we raced up and over the Platt Street Bridge which shook with the force of so many feet upon it, I felt a thrill that carried me for several blocks. Even at the ending, I ran with a power I have not experienced before. I heard someone running behind me shout, “I see the finish line,” and even though I could not see it, I ran with enthusiasm for at least three minutes until I crossed with the cheers of the Team Freedom members ringing in my ears. But, the middle, now the middle is something else entirely. The middle is where walkers get in your way. The middle is where your shoes get wet running through a puddle. Where you fight through a crowd to get your share of water, and little kids and people with strollers run past you like you are standing still. The middle is not an easy place to be. It takes a miracle to make it through the middle. In her second talk on Saturday night, Charlotte Gambill talked about the “miracle in the middle” and used the scripture above to illustrate her points. She noted that it was not on the shore that the disciples realized that they needed Jesus. When the boat was near the shore, they could easily have turned around and gone back. But, in the middle of the lake, in the middle of a storm, that is when the disciples called out to Jesus. That is where they saw Him walking on the water. That is where He met them in their time of greatest need. On the shore, when Jesus was performing miracles for others, the disciples didn’t realize Who Jesus truly was. It was only when they were desperate that they understood fully His power and His might. When they left the shore, they didn’t have a clue Who Jesus was. When they docked the boat in Bethsaida, their eyes had been opened and they were able to completely testify to His glory. Charlotte stated that when we have been through a storm, that is when we not only understand who Jesus is, but others, recognizing the storm we have been in, see the intensity of our testimony. God, and only God, gets all the glory. All of us will enter a storm at one time or another. The question is how we will respond when we are in that storm. Will we turn back to the comfort of the shore where we know what to expect? Will we flounder in the middle? Lying down and having a pity party or panicking afraid and unsure. Or will we travel on knowing Jesus is with us no matter what happens? When we reach the farther shore with the confidence and faith actually strengthened by the storm, God will get the glory. So, if you are in the middle of a storm, keep your eyes open. God does His best miracles there and when you have crossed through this storm, you will have a miraculous testimony to tell.
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here! Mark 6:45-51 (NLT)