I could tell you about roughly 487 weaknesses I have, but my self esteem would deflate to a raisin and I wouldn’t be able to finish this post. I do need to hone in on just one of them tonight. I was reminded of it because I recently taught my favorite story during Bible school last week. The story of Jesus walking on water. The part of this story I identify with so much, is when Jesus calls Peter to walk on the water to him. Can you imagine that? Jesus calling you to do the physically impossible?
Mathew 14: 23-31
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
I am Peter. Peter peter pumpkin eater. I identify with him on so many levels. One of my weaknesses is fear. I feel like I can perfectly identify with his desire to believe that Jesus and God can do anything. If Jesus called me out onto the water to him, I can see myself eagerly jump ship, and start out strong. I’d be thinking, He told me to do this, I can do this! Jesus can help me do anything! I’ve seen him perform many miracles. The water is on my feet. Oh man these waves are huge, it’s a lot scarier looking on the waves than from the ship. This wind is terribly strong and blowing so hard. At this point I can vividly feel the nervousness start to creep in. With waves crashing around me, and the cold water under my feet, I’d begin to feel fear take a hold. This was more than I bargained for. I’m not strong enough for this. What was I thinking? I shouldn’t have tried this! What if God doesn’t keep helping me? What if this is where I will fail? Will Jesus help me? Now with icy water rushing over my feet, creeping up my shins, and taking my breath away at my waist…I cry out JESUS HELP ME! I CAN’T DO THIS!
This is me so many times in my life. I have faced massive opposition in certain time periods of my life. I know all of you have as well. I know that God has helped me with all of them. In fact, He has never left me alone to deal by myself. He is always calling to me to do the impossible. Jesus loves and is the impossible. He is the original human incredible. Raising souls from the dead, healing the blind and sick, casting out of demons, freeing us from spiritual bondage forever. Voluntarily accepting to die on a cross so that the veil would be torn and we no longer required an intercessor to speak with God directly. We were freed, because Jesus is the incredible.
I have been a lost sheep. I have been a stubborn sheep. I have been a lame sheep and I’ve been sheepish. My shepherd has never left me behind. Yet, each time I face a new enormous loss or challenge, I feel the fear slowly creep in. I feel I am facing another impossible to endure wave. I sink in those crashing waves, I feel my weakness and I cry out, JESUS HELP ME! I CAN’T DO THIS!
Jesus takes my hand, and raises me from the deep. He asks me, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Why Amy? I have never left you to be consumed by these waves of life. These waves only scare you because you forget how faithful I am. They scare you because the reality of each crashing wave threatens your trust in me. The devil would love for you to only look at the power of these waves and their potential to destroy you, and to have you forget to fix your eyes on me. Amy call out, and remember where your help comes from. I will never leave or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
No matter how big the waves are, no matter how cold and deep the water is, no matter how hard the wind blows…The God we serve has every ability to steady us, and keep our head above water. We serve a God of miracles. Not possibles. Miracles.
I face a fear that creeps in before I realize it. I fear pain. I’ve had so much of it and at times it’s threatened like a White Squall to crush my trust that Jesus still has my future in his control. On the good days I feel so hopeful and I can block the fear I have deep down that my body will deteriorate terribly at a much younger age than most because of what’s happened to it. I worry about the pain, the joint replacements, the arthritis that could be my future. I try very hard as a rule, to not let myself think that far ahead. It’s a conscious decision I have to make. God told me He would heal me, but I would have to be patient. To whatever degree of healed that means…it’s in His capable hands. One day at a time. I will leave the future to be decided by God. If this was His plan to lead me to this, He will lead me through this. The outcome is to be decided by Him, but He expects me to obey and trust and be patient.
Days like today, when I feel like something good is coming from suffering, the waves don’t feel as ominous. I feel I am standing at the top of a mountain that I’ve been climbing for 7 years. Nearly 9 and a half million people are getting informed of a warning I’ve prayed would be amped up for years! I am hiking a paved but steep mountain 2 or 3 times a week when my body and the weather behaves, but I do so vividly remember the valley below. I can remember just over a year ago, ominous waves crashing down. I was in terrible pain, and on the cusp of another surgery. I’d just freshly lost one of my best friends to cancer, and I felt the ominous waves. Today’s waves don’t scare me as much, but I know that there are many more waves to brave ahead, and more valleys to walk. I also know that my inner Peter, will have to be reminded to stop looking at the waves and to look at my Savior.
This brings me to a big fat pet peeve. I hate the phrase: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
Pthhhhhhhhhhhht 😛 that is garbage. A big fat behemoth lie. A lie that discourages the bageebers out of people. We have a billion humans experiencing more than they feel they can handle. That’s because it IS more than we can handle. We might think we are handling things, but it usually leads to a bunch of unhealthy coping mechanisms. I feel like everyone I’ve ever heard talk about how strong and self reliant they are …have at least one glaringly obvious self destructive coping mechanism. Chain smoking, routine drunkeness, an eating disorder, a freaky fetish, anger toward mankind, or they are featured on some talk show where they are being thrown a surprise intervention party. Yay! Sounds like fun right? Nope.
What the scriptures really say is
1st Corinthians 10:13
- There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
That is saying God will make a way of escape for us when we are tempted, so we aren’t left without an alternative to sin. That’s a lot different than, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
If we want to talk about what we can bear in life…lets read what is really says.
- I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
I can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneth me. This is actually way more encouraging to me. That means that no matter how towering these waves are, how hard the wind blows and how cold the water is…Jesus can still lift me up and steady me. I know where my help comes from. I just have to remember to fix my eyes on Jesus.
(A Song of degrees.) I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
God is watching every wave. Jesus is calling us to walk over them to him. He says, “Fix your eyes on me. Don’t watch the waves, watch the power I have to traverse them. Now trust me.”
Psalm 123: 2
Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyesof a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.