If you are just joining me, welcome! You can find an explanation of this series here: Day 1 – Introduction.
When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified…But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
Matthew 14:26-27; 29-31
Story: Matthew 14:22 – 33
Two sick kids and my husband waits for stitches for his left ring finger, as I write. Life has been a slice of crazy lately.
Yesterday I received an email from an online friend saying her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My heart hurt; I’ve prayed for God’s best for this friend for months. Another dear friend I’ve prayed for shared her daughter is bullied and battles self-hatred. My heart hurts for them. Several friends have shared they struggle not to be suffocated by mental oppression. How much can a heart hurt?
Heartaches threaten to undo us as it is, but what about those that come when we pray? God put these persons on my heart, and I prayed. The thought flickered for a moment maybe I helped bring this on them?
Two days ago I heard a woman voice a similar thought. She had prayed for her son to make peace with God. God answered her prayers by striking her son with a fatal brain tumor. Though her son did get close to God before he died, this woman lives with a son-sized hole in her heart.
“Mom, did you know popcorn is a corn kernel turned inside out?” my son asked once. When the kernel is heated, the moisture content inside is pressurized until it explodes.
In The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp writes, “My dad had told me this once. For a seed to come fully into its own, it must become wholly undone. The shell must break open, its insides must come out, and everything must change. If you didn’t understand what life looks like, you might mistake it for complete destruction.”
After feeding the five thousand, Jesus makes his disciples get into a boat and bon voyage off into what he knows will become a perfect storm. The disciples didn’t do anything wrong; it wasn’t punishment. Likewise, the disciples’ families back home praying didn’t help bring the storm. This was all God’s idea.
Did he want them to unmistakably know he alone sustained them? Did he want to upgrade their seats to V.I.P. status – premium front-row positions to witness Jesus walk on water?
I thought the interaction between Peter and Jesus was odd. The disciples freak out and think Jesus is a ghost. Peter challenges the ghost to invite him out on the water, if it’s really Jesus. (Show of hands, who would ask that? Me neither.) Maybe Peter reasoned since Jesus was human and could walk on water, he could too? Maybe when Jesus said, “Come,” Peter heard in it the first invitation to become Jesus’ disciple?
Storms give me a front-row seat to view God’s power. But more than give a view, they give a cue – to personally experience God’s power. Jesus invites me to trust that because He is in me, I can take control of that which threatens to take me under. Not my power, His.
Not that we’ll trample physical illness and suddenly be healthy. There’s so much we don’t control. What is it that truly threatens to take us under? Broken thinking, broken emotions, broken relationships, broken actions. Darkness. The disciples were fighting for their lives in the dark of night.
An encouraging friend recently reminded me that it is darkest before dawn. (Thank you, Melissa! https://mnstroh.com/ )
Three winters ago I wanted a decoration for my living room wall but didn’t want to spend money. So I cut a large branch from a bush in our yard and fastened it to the wall. It’s fabulous; I still have it. It has ornaments at Christmas, eggs at Easter, fake leaves in fall, etc. Since I cut it in winter the branches were bare. They’re still bare; nothing has grown, obviously. As much as I love my cheap decoration, I don’t want my soul to be like that. I want to stay connected to Christ through the darkest times of winter so when spring dawns, I can see the growth he’ll produce in me.
God’s been showing me multiple areas I can grow – all at the same time, which becomes a frequent temptation to panic.
It happened while I ate dinner last night. I caught myself in negative self-talk. “I can’t do this. I’m not good enough. Everyone else is smarter than I am. I’ll never get it. I’m hopeless. I’m a bad mom. I’m a bad wife.” You know, all that crap. And I could feel my heart pounding. So I decided to practice a self-talk exercise I learned in a GriefShare class. It wasn’t a grief-related panic, but it was still helpful. I decided I wanted to think truth so that’s what I started telling myself: “I can do this. God will help me. I have hope. I’m His daughter. I have gifts. I’m smart too. I can learn what I don’t know. I’m giving what I have to my kids and my husband.” I noticed my head physically lifted!
My prayer had been that God would push back the darkness for those I mentioned. For you. For me. I’m still praying that. But I realized WE are the light of the world – God’s children. And I thought about matches. They don’t light until struck. And I wondered if the struggles that have struck us are God’s tool to shine more brightly through us. If our God is a consuming fire, and He is in us, we have nothing to fear: He’ll consume the darkness we enter.
This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…