Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. —Mark 6:45-46 (NKJV)

Fear gripped me as I approached the medical center. For this young country girl going to the city alone was intimidating. Before I met my husband-to-be, I had rarely been off the farm except to do the essentials or for the occasional visit somewhere. The large and imposing building felt like a city in itself as it towered over me. I was absolutely petrified! What if I get lost? What if I can’t find my way around? What if I don’t know what to do? What am I going to face?

For the first time, this really felt real. In that hospital were real live, sick people that I was going to be taking care of. Though we’d had plenty of practice, today was different. We would be giving care without our instructor standing over our shoulders at every moment. We were going it alone, and I was petrified!

What I didn’t know right off was that our nursing instructor was never far away. She was always watching from a distance and always listening for signs that we needed her help. Though we were never really out of her sight, she needed us to think so in order for us to gain the confidence we needed for the time ahead when she would not be there at all.

In the verses from Mark above, the disciples were already exhausted beyond words when Jesus compelled them to get into that boat. Now seated, oar in hand, and ready to head across, they couldn’t find Jesus. Scanning the beach, they saw Him heading up the mountain in the opposite direction … away from them. He was leaving them to row it alone, and, though they didn’t know it at the moment, to face a storm alone.

Jesus frequently stepped aside for quiet time alone with Dad in prayer, and I can’t help but think that perhaps Jesus had some other reasons He did so at this particular time.

While the disciples were struggling through the perilous storm alone, He was on the mountain praying … and watching. He knew every agonizing moment that ticked on, every wave that crashed over them, every lightening bolt that flashed across the night sky, every rowing stroke. He heard every clap of thunder that echoed as it rolled down between the mountains, every labored breath, and every pounding heartbeat. Though they couldn’t hear their own voices, not one terrified gasp was lost in the wind. Though they couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces, the heaviest rain could not obscure them from His view.

Did you know that a shepherd tends to most often watch the sheep from up on the side of a nearby high place? It is easier for the shepherd to keep an eye on the whole flock—and for the sheep to see him on a high place—than it is to be right in their midst. It also gives the shepherd a vantage from which to see danger coming from a distance.

That’s exactly where the disciples’ Shepherd Savior was watching over them that night … from a high place.

But the disciples didn’t know that. All they knew was that Jesus seemed to have abandoned them, leaving them to face their peril alone.

At first glance, maybe even the second one, it doesn’t make sense. Why would He do that? I suspect He was doing the very thing our nursing instructor did. The time was coming very soon when Jesus would not be physically with them in the way they were used to having Him. They would need to learn to lean on Him in a whole new way, in a better way. But He was there listening for their pleas.

Can’t you just picture it? There sits Jesus on the side of the mountain, watching His disciples, and a gleam comes into His eye, a smile spreads over His face. “Just wait till they see this!” Then faster than the lightening flashing across the water, He’s off the mountain and taking a casual walk on the wet side, and it seems as though He was going to walk right past them. “Hey guys! How ya doin’? A little rough out here tonight! Doin’ any fishin’?”

It seems to me that there just might be another reason Jesus may have let them struggle in the storm alone for a time. Earlier in the week, Jesus had sent the disciples out, two by two, Spirit-empowered to do some pretty wild stuff for Him, and they were on quite a high. Remember the alfresco lunch earlier that day? The crowd was hungry and in need of food. The disciples weren’t interested! In fact, they had told Jesus to send the crowd away to get their own lunch in town.

In all of the distraction and excitement of going and doing to the point of exhaustion, they’d missed the soul need. Jesus needed them to experience their own deepest need for rescue, so they would better understand the desperation of the lost. He wanted them to learn to have His kind of compassion for those He would be calling them to minister to in the not-too-distant days ahead.

How about you? How are you are feeling today? Are you in a season that feels like God has left the building? Oh, I can assure you that He has not. Every believer in Jesus Christ has this promise: “…‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5b). That promise is made possible because at the very moment we confess our sin and ask Christ to forgive us, He not only forgives and cleanses us from our sin, but He moves right inside of us. He makes us His temple, enabling us to live in obedience to Him, assured of His love, protection, provision, and His constant presence.

Our Shepherd Savior is using all things—including those times when we feel afraid and alone—to refine us and shape us more into the image of His Son. He is equipping us to better see and help meet the needs of lost and struggling souls, that we might be His hands and feet.

Jesus did climb into that boat with them and immediately the winds died down, and they were completely amazed.

Father, thank You for the promise of Your constant presence with us and for Your promise to never leave or forsake us. Help me to stay close to You. Don’t let me ever wander away. I love You, Lord!

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O, abide with me.
(Henry F. Lyte, songwriter, 1847)


Safe in His care,
Donna Perkins




Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Candie Remick
    May 16, 2022 1:19 pm

    Thank you for your beautiful writing, Donna and reminding us
    that when we belong to Jesus, He is ever present with us. He will
    never leave us. He is our Savior, Comforter, Friend and Confidante.
    Lord, thank you for who You are and for all that You are to me. I love
    You and praise You.

    May 16, 2022 2:42 pm

    This is a wonderful illustration, thank you so much. I will try to remember
    this when I am afraid. God bless you and your writing.


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