was a minister for 50 years. He gave me several words of
encouragement and advice when I felt the calling and entered
One of the most valuable lessons came from a quaint proverb
that says, “you can fight a skunk and win, but it's very
seldom worth the fight.” He was saying choose your fights
carefully. He was saying measure your response and don't
over-react to the various crisis and spiritual storms you
In the Gospel of Mark, 6:48, I find the Disciples of Christ
over-reacting to a storm on the sea. No doubt it was a
terrible storm and they thought they were going to drown. But
the last few words of verse 48 say that Jesus, “would have
passed by them,” as he went walking to the other side of the
There's several lessons I see in this story:
First, we'll face spiritual storms just as the disciples
faced the physical storm. Nowhere does the Scripture promise
us smooth sailing through life. We shouldn't be surprised or
perplexed when we face storms---even terrible storms that seem
sure to capsize our boat.
Secondly, the disciples perceived the storm worse than it
really was. Jesus had told his disciples to trust him, yet
they focused on the storm. So many times we focus on the storm
and get our eyes off Jesus. Yes, it's hard to stay focused.
Sometimes the storm rages and the winds of conflict and
turmoil ravage our ship. But the fact that Jesus, “would have
passed by them,” tells me that HE wasn't as concerned with the
velocity of the wind or the swell of the waves.
Jesus didn't leave them alone. He took note of the storm
and the fact that they were, “toiling in rowing.“ But
sometimes rowing hard is good for us and Jesus knew they could
make it through the storm. Jesus knew if his disciples
would've trusted his word and used the strength he'd givenen
to row against the storm, they would've made it.
The disciples would've still had to row hard, but they
wouldn't have had to battle the fear the storm generated in
We all face storms. Sometimes we're sure we're gonna die in
the storm. We're afraid. Yet, as for me, many times when I'm
given the wisdom of time and space, I realize the storm I
feared so greatly at the moment was not as fierce or deadly as
I had perceived.
At the moment of the storm, the disciples thought they were
going to die. But Jesus, “would have passed by them,” because
the storm was under His management and the disciples would
Lastly, Jesus responded to their fear.
Although Jesus knew his disciples could row hard and make
it through the storm, he felt compassion and responded to
their fear. He calmed the storm. More than that, he calmed his
disciples and taught them a great lesson.
The disciples were fighting a “skunk” of a storm, yet the
battle wasn't the wind or the waves. The battle was between
fear and faith in Jesus.
We must recognize the battle and be careful not to
over-react to the storm. Let's not cower in fear of the storm,
but row hard and trust Jesus to see us through.