He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”
“You are the trailer park, I am the tornado.” (Yellowstone, 2021, Paramount Network) If you’re familiar with this TV show, then you probably can recall the scene this quote is from. It takes place in season three. This was Beth Dutton’s response to a man named Roarke, after he asks her if she is up for a fight and proceeds to tell her she’s wrong to think she can win. Instead of cowering to this man’s gaslighting tactic, Beth Dutton looks him square in the eye and says, “Right back at ya” and finishes with the tornado line. To this remark, the man turns and walks out of the establishment where this verbal sparring had occurred. This four minute conversation was centered around this man threatening what was most valuable to Beth and her family, land that her family’s entire existence is centered around.
As I rewatched this scene I couldn’t help but liken it to a conversation between the devil and us. If you’re a Christian, you already know that the devil comes to seek and destroy. He studies our weaknesses and attacks us when we least expect it. If he is unsuccessful, he will attack everything/everyone that is precious to us. He is a constant threat to us and to everything/everyone we value the most. Have you drawn closer to God recently only to have chaos ensue or watch a close family member/friend get hit with a major setback or struggle? As you become a mighty prayer warrior, do you find your life getting easier or harder? When you fast, do you get the answers you were praying for, or does the complete opposite seem to happen? For me, it’s the latter to all of these questions. The closer I draw to God, the more I work to grow my faith and dependency on Him, the worse life gets, for me and the ones I love most. I have 47 years of examples I could list, but if I did, this post would turn into a chapter book that read like a pity party. Instead, I’ll just admit that being hit hard and knocked down by the devil, every time I have turned back to God, has challenged my ability to trust God and even question His plans for my family and me. The firmer I dig my heels into faith, the harder I try to deepen my roots in Jesus, the harder the enemy hits also.
When the disciples decided to follow Jesus, I wonder what they thought their lives would be like. If I were walking, in person, with the son of God, fully knowing that He picked me to be on His team, I would have felt invincible and probably a bit prideful. I would’ve taken Psalm 118 verse 6 to an arrogant level. Someone mock Jesus in front of me? Watch out because God is on my side so what could the mocker possibly do to me? Well if you’re familiar with Jesus’ and Peter’s crucifixions, as well as the number of times many of the disciples were imprisoned for their ministry, I would say, our enemy can and does do a lot to harm us and our families. The bigger a threat to him that we are, the harder he fights to interfere with God’s plan and purpose for us. When God calls us to step out or move in faith, even when He asks for faith the size of a mustard seed, He does not call us into a faith that arrogantly believes, but to a faith that is fearless in believing.
Although the disciples believed Jesus was the Messiah, they doubted Him over and over again. This is evident in not one but at least two different storms they find themselves in while in a boat out to sea. The first storm is in Matthew chapter 8. It occurs after Jesus and the disciples have left a large gathering and are traveling by boat to their next endeavor. The storm happens upon them suddenly and while the disciples go into panic mode, Jesus is asleep. The storm doesn’t wake Him up. Frightened disciples do. If you’ve ever been on a boat during a storm, you know how tumultuous the experience can be. The boat and all it is carrying, including its passengers are tossed to and fro. But Jesus was not bothered by the din or thrashing movement of the storm.
The disciples’ doubt and professed lie is what woke Jesus. Professed lie you ask? How did the disciples lie? When they woke Jesus, they yelled; “Lord save us! We’re going to drown!” (Matthew 8:25 NIV) They did not say, they feared they might drown, they professed that they were in fact going to drown. It’s one thing to profess things we fear might happen, it’s another to believe our fears will happen. Followers of Christ, with Jesus physically with them, at the first sign of trouble, believed they were going to die. It’s no wonder some of us have so little faith when life storms disrupt our lives. I wonder how quickly we get God’s attention when we speak lies of defeat into our circumstances? Unfortunately, fear and doubt can be so noisy and consuming that we cannot hear Him rebuke the enemy,
When Jesus awoke, how did He respond? With a calm assurance that told the disciples, “I’ve got this.” Jesus rebuked the storm and mother nature quieted right down. He then asked His disciples why they were so afraid? Where was their faith? But the disciples don’t answer Him, they just marvel at what had just happened and question who He was. They witnessed Jesus perform many miracles firsthand, and yet they still did not always believe.
The first four books of the New Testament give four accounts of Jesus calming a storm. Three of those accounts have similar details, which makes me believe Matthew, Mark and Luke are all recounting the same experience just through a different lens. Interestingly, where Matthew and Luke declare death upon them all, Mark asks Jesus’ this question: “Don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38b). Questioning God’s love for us is another natural response to fear and doubt. When we are in crisis mode, it’s easy to panic and not only doubt God’s deliverance but question His care for us also. After all, if we interpret Jeremiah 29:11 literally, then we presume only good and prosperous things come from God. So if life (or the devil) is throwing some pretty heavy and hard stuff at you or your family, it must not be from God, right? If you can’t see or feel His presence and especially if it feels He is just asleep or silent, it’s natural to ask Him if He even cares about what’s happening. But in each instance, Jesus rebukes not only the storm, He also rebukes the disciples’ lack of faith. It’s almost as if He is saying, “Why are you so rattled? Did you forget who I am? Have you no faith at all?”
John’s account of a storm is slightly different than the other three. Jesus was already in the boat in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s stories. But in John chapter 6, we read that Jesus was not with the disciples when they got hit by a storm at sea. It also happens at night whereas there is one mention of the other storm occurring during the day. When the high wind begins to blow, we don’t read that the disciples called out to Him or professed death over their situation. Instead we read that after they rowed three to four miles, Jesus approached them. How you might ask? He was walking on the water. Once again, the disciples are afraid. But this time, it’s not the wind and waves that scare them, it’s the sight of Jesus walking on water. Still lacking faith in His power, they actually think Jesus is a ghost. They have already seen Him perform so many miracles, yet in their humanness they cannot fathom He would have the ability to walk on water too. Isn’t that true in our own lives? How many times have we seen God move mighty mountains over our circumstances and yet, when He shows up again, we doubt it’s really His hand working? How many times have we given someone else the credit including ourselves because we doubted God would actually come through. Notice the disciples didn’t even cry out for Him this time. They tried rowing themselves out of this storm. How many times has doubt led each of us to say,” God’s not showing up this time, I’m just gonna have to handle this on my own.”? How many storms does God have to rescue us from before we fight our natural instinct to doubt and fear and instead develop a habit of just believing?
Thankfully, Jesus’s response in John chapter 6 can encourage us that even when we doubt that He is not with us, He shows up and says, ““It is I; don’t be afraid.” (verse 20) Just as the disciples were willing to let Jesus in their boat and they were immediately delivered to the land they were traveling to, God promises to deliver us too. Once we let Jesus into our circumstances and believe He will calm the storms of life in His time and in His way, He will take us exactly to the places He wants us and our families to be. Although He delivered the disciples immediately, God’s deliverance in our life storms are seldom instantaneous. So don’t lose heart when you invite Him into your circumstances but they don’t change right away or inevitably get worse before He makes them better. Keep in mind also, that Jesus’ only demand is that we be not afraid and just believe. If you’re wrestling with the crashing waves of fear and doubt, I encourage you to rebuke this in Jesus’ name, call out to God Himself to save you and your family. Invite Him into your circumstances and trust that He will, in His time, rebuke the enemy’s hold on your family, saying “Enough! Be still!”
In the mean time fight your battles through prayer. As you pray, when the devil asks if you’re up to the fight and tries to tell you that you can’t defeat him,, tap into the Beth Dutton depth of your faith and tell the devil he is the trailer park and you are the tornado. Should fear and doubt still try to over take you, as they did to Dorothy, when, in The Wizard of Oz, her entire house was caught up in a tornado (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/MGM, 1939), hold on to your faith, and cling to Jesus, for He is holding on to you and your family throughout every inch of these storms. Always remember, when we walk by faith, not by sight, and the devil rages an ugly storm, we can fearlessly look the devil square in the eye and say, “You are the trailer park, I and my God are the tornadoes!”