After being apart of an amazing miracle, feeding over ten thousand people with just five loaves of bread and two fish (sardines), the bible says that , “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and sent to the other side of the sea to wait for Him”. Why did Jesus have to make them get into the boat? Maybe because the wind and waves were raging in the sea.
While they are straining to get to the other side, through the gusty winds and bashing waves, Jesus is on the mountain praying to His Father. Maybe He was praying for His disciples as they gave everything they had to try to stay the course that He had set before them as they strived against those waves and wind that seemed as though they were trying to keep them from finishing the task ahead of them. Exhausted, hopeless, doubtful…they had been rowing all night, it is almost morning and they still have one fourth of the way to go across just a 4 to 5 mile width sea. How will they make it if the waves and wind don’t cease?
..then they see Jesus. He comes to them on the water, walking on top of the very thing that is working against them, keeping them from finishing what He has asked them to do. What hope, courage and confidence comes from seeing Jesus? Peter says, “Command me to come to You on the water”. Jesus says, “come” and he gets out of the boat and walks to Jesus. What a few minutes ago seemed daunting, exhausting, and even impossible to do now was a storm to be conquered, raised up against and tread on. What conquered him just minutes ago, He now had the power to conquer.
As I remembered this story this morning I was thinking of my faith. My faith in God and how much I really do trust Him. When He asks me to do little things, things that don’t stretch me much, things that don’t really challenge me, I do with a glad, faith filled heart. Sure! I say. I love to serve you and obey you! Row across that calm lake with your friends and wait for me! Okay, no problem..I got this..no worries…I say.
Then there is the time where He says, I want you to go through the storm. I want you to do something bigger than what you are capable of. I want to stretch you, take you beyond your power, your will, your ability, I want to empty you so that I can fill you with my power. Do I still have the same faith, courage and confidence I had before? Not usually. Why? Because I am finding out that my faith, courage and confidence is in myself when I am asked to do things that “I” can handle. But when God pushes me past what “I” can handle it is a whole new ball game.
I have great faith and trust in God when I can handle what He has put before me. Is my faith and trust in Him really that great though. I remember being so excited to go to Africa and serve God, that is until my husband got on board and said “lets go!”. I cried for two days when he committed. I had been praying for 4 months for God to move Todds heart if it was His plan for us to go. I had gotten frustrated, angry and resentful that my husband hadn’t gotten the message that we were being called to be missionaries in Africa. I was ready and excited, so I thought. Then, all of the sudden, we were going to go and it all of the sudden didn’t look so exciting. It was overwhelming, scary and way uncomfortable. Why the change in my heart? Well, in my mind I was a great missionary, serving the Lord in great ways. I didn’t have to leave the comforts of anything to be on that amazing journey. I was excited and living it in my mind, telling God how awesome it would be to serve Him this way. But when it became the moment of committing to actually go and follow my husbands lead I got cold feet. Jesus would now have to do the same thing for me that He did for the disciples, He would have to make me get in the boat.
Here we are, just a little over 6 weeks from our departure date for Africa, I am still in the boat rowing across that sea. Some days the water is more rough than others and there is more confidence on the days where the water is calm. What I am learning on my journey in the boat is that faith is challenged and grown when you are being sent out on a journey that will rock your boat.
I love that Peter, who was exhausted and afraid one minute, asked Jesus to call Him out of the boat and onto the crashing waves the next. How was he able to have such a change of heart? He saw Jesus in it with Him. He knew that he was with the One who controlled the winds and waves. Jesus wasn’t shaken by the wind and waves, He walked on top of them. Peter didn’t want to necessarily get out of the storm. He wanted to walk with Jesus through it. He wanted to walk atop of it instead of being tossed around by it.
The Bible says, “Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”.
This looks a lot like our journey right now. We too were sent to the other side of the sea in a sense. We strive to stay on the course that the Lord has put before us, just like the disciples, even though we are exhausted some days like they were. The disciples fought against the wind and waves in the sea that tried to keep them from reaching their destiny. Our wind in waves, is spiritual warfare. We know that we have forces working against us to keep us from going to where God has called us but we strive ahead. Like the disciples we strive sometimes in our flesh and get exhausted, then we see Jesus because He draws near to us so we know that He is with us, reminding us that He controls it all and we can take courage and not be afraid. Then we walk with Him through the storm instead of getting tossed to and fro by the waves and wind.
But sometimes as we go our focus again becomes the wind and waves around us. It says that Peter saw the wind. You can’t see wind, you see what the wind does. He was seeing the waves created by the wind. We too see the spiritual waves, created by the enemy, doubt, fear, anxiety, discouragement….and we, like Peter, start to sink. Then we cry out to God, and say, “Help us, we can’t do this without you, Jesus please show us you are here with us, in this with us, beside us!”
Just like in Peters weak moment, where he takes his eyes off Jesus, and starts to sink, the bible tells us that, “immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him,’you of little faith, why did you doubt?'” He raises Peter up and sets him back atop the waves and reminds him that he has no need to doubt because of who Jesus is. Peter, again on top of the storm, is reminded, as Jesus pulls him up, of the power in the one He serves. See, when we take our eyes off Jesus and are walking on the water in our own strength, we start to doubt whether or not we can handle it? Are we capable? strong enough? brave enough? equipped enough? Then we start to sink in our doubts. But God in His goodness waits for us to cry out to Him, to save us and He sets us right and reminds us who He is. He reminds us that we can only do this in His power and His might. That without Him it is too big for us to do. He grows our faith not in who we are but in who He is.
God is growing our faith so much everyday. He has seen us trusting in Him fully as we walk atop the wind and waves and He has seen us trusting in ourselves, coming to the end of ourselves which causes us to start sinking. He has been there every time as we cry, ‘Jesus, save us!’ and He has lifted us back up once again to walk in His strength and power on top of the crashing waves. We are learning every day more and more what it is to let the trust in ourselves go and to trust wholly in the One who saves and has all power and might. It is a messy and beautiful journey.
So our challenge is to get out of the boat and onto the crashing waves. Let God take you somewhere where you cannot go on your own. Let him stretch you beyond what you can even dare to dream. Let Him lead you to where your abilities end and His begin. Where you run dry and He can fill you to overflowing. Every day I wake up and think, ‘God you have to show up huge today, because we can’t do this without you’. It is beyond what we are capable of. Then I say, ‘this is Your story being written for Your Glory, so I know you have this!’. It isn’t about us, its about Him. Its not a story about us, its about His story. Its not for our Glory but for His. So He will not let it fail nor fall. He will finish all He has purposed and He has just asked us to be a part of the journey and we have said yes..Won’t you say yes too?
God, thank you for taking us to big places, places where we come to the end of ourselves and are challenged to call on you. In these moments we have tasted Your goodness, seen Your power and walked in Your strength. Amen