No Matter How Far
By Steve Hearts
There have been plenty of times when I’ve felt either that Jesus was distant from me or that I’ve drifted too far from Him to find my way back. But one night I clearly saw that both of these ideas are the furthest thing from the truth.
I was having difficulty sleeping, so I decided to listen to some Scripture on audio. I opted to listen to the book of John, my favorite of the four Gospels. This was very refreshing, as it had been quite some time since I’d heard it on audio or read it in Braille. This story spoke to my heart:
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.—John 6:16–211
I’ve known this story ever since I was a child, but that night it took on fresh, new meaning, as God’s Word always does when I ask for the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit while studying it.
I saw that although Jesus may not have been physically with the disciples when they began their voyage across the lake, they were not out of His sight for even a fraction of a moment. He had His eye on them. I have often wondered about the exact distance between the mountain where Jesus was and the lake which His disciples were crossing. Whatever that distance, it’s plain to see that was not a factor. Jesus knew their exact location, as well as their circumstances, and was thus able to be at their side at the precise moment when the storm hit and they needed His intervention.
He is much the same with us today. Though His presence isn’t always overt and obvious, and may even seem distant at times, that doesn’t change the fact that He is with us all the time, never letting us out of His sight. He is also faithful to clearly manifest Himself to us in countless ways, during moments when He knows it is most necessary.
I also took note of how when the disciples saw Him walking on the water and approaching their boat, they were terrified. But once they found out it was Jesus, “then they were willing to take him into the boat.” Only then could they immediately reach their destination. It almost seems as though He’d simultaneously performed two miracles that day—calming the storm and shortening their voyage.
The boat is symbolic to me of certain parts of my heart and life which I fail to let the Lord enter into, be it out of fear or pride. But the longer I deny Him entrance, the more damage is done to these areas of my life which, more often than not, are already battered and broken. Once I let Him in, He always sets things right, and I feel safe and renewed—just as the disciples had to have felt when they safely reached their destination—and the storm of my inner struggle ceases and I arrive at the peaceful shore of faith and trust in Him.
Along the same line, I recalled the story in John 4 of the royal official who’d approached Jesus, pleading with Him to come and heal his son, who was at the point of death. Jesus simply told him, “Go … your son will live.”2 The man chose to put his full trust in Jesus’ word. He had faith that the physical distance between Jesus and his dying son was not too great for God’s miraculous healing power to traverse, and that his son would be healed. And he was!
Likewise, it doesn’t matter how far off Jesus’ presence may seem to be, nor how far from His side I’ve drifted when allowing myself to be carried away by life’s waves. There is no distance too great for Him to traverse and no storm too fierce for Him to calm, nor are there any waters too troubled for Him to walk across.
As I lay reflecting on these things, my inner peace increased and I was soon sound asleep in Jesus’ arms—the same arms that reached out to and caught Peter when he began to sink while attempting to walk to Jesus on the stormy sea.3 The same arms which are always outstretched and waiting for me to fall into them, no matter how far I may stray or drift.
Though I may at times lose sight of His presence in my life, it is comforting to know that He’ll never lose sight of me. Though I may sometimes get lost on life’s road, He always knows where to find me. Now, in moments when I feel distance growing between Him and me, I simply remind myself of these assuring facts, and before I know it, the feeling of distance is replaced by one of closeness to Him, as I remember that He will never leave me nor forsake me.4
As the song by Steven Curtis Chapman goes:
His eyes are always upon us;
His eyes never close in sleep.
And no matter where you go,
You will always be in His eyes, in His eyes.5
2 See verses 46–54.
3 See Matthew 14:31.
4 See Hebrews 13:5.
5 “His Eyes” by Steven Curtis Chapman.