Monday, January 16, 2017

When Life Becomes Overcast and Windy

The past week or so, my heart has been downcast.  An unspoken sorrow.  Something was wrong, but the source was hidden.  Negative thoughts filled my mind and emotions ruled in an unkindly way. Friends prayed for me and the sadness lifted briefly but then like an unwanted visitor, returned and lingered.

Last night the Lord led me to Romans 12: 10-13...

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality." (emphasis added)

Christianity 101 in short.  My eyes focused on "rejoicing in hope."  My faith is usually strong filled with optimism.  However, the past couple of weeks hope had been masked, hidden from my sight. Hope was replaced with heaviness, and my sunny view of life turned to overcast.

This morning, I read Jesus Calling (as I do most every day), and the verse on the page jumped off the paper into my heart causing it to start beating, bringing life. It was a verse I have read many times and know well.  However, today the verse seemed new and fresh.

"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!' " Matthew 14:29-30

Some background:  Last year (2016), the Lord gave me the words, "Step Out" as a word for the year.  It was indeed a year of stepping out and He did wonders over and over.  Like Peter, I experienced the miraculous of stepping out of the boat onto the water.

The word the Lord gave me for this year is "Move forward".  I think after Peter stepped out of the boat and began to move forward, he must have realized, "Oh my word! I'm getting farther from the boat!"  He began to think about what he was really doing. It does take great faith to step out of the boat, but to keep moving on the water takes even more faith.

As I read Matthew 14:29-30 this morning, the words, "when he saw the wind"  grasped my attention.

"When he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord save me!'"

What drew me to this was that he "saw" the wind.  We can't see wind.  We can feel wind and see the effects of the wind, but wind cannot actually be seen.  What Peter saw were the waves being caused by the wind.  The waves frightened him.

There are things I feel, but cannot actually see.  For example: When I feel stress, fear or discouragement, temptation comes to look around at my circumstances instead of fixing my eyes on the Source of faith.

Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked around him.  If Peter would have felt the wind, but kept his eyes on Jesus instead of the waves, he wouldn't have begun to sink.

Jesus knew it was windy.  He knew about the waves.  At any moment, He could have rebuked the wind and waves and made the water calm, still. Why didn't He?   Did Jesus leave the wind and waves to show Peter that He is always there and will hold him up even in the storm?  The wind and waves remained with purpose--to prove to Peter that Jesus will keep him and us up even in the storm.  When we move forward toward Him and His purpose, there will not always be calm waters, but as we focus our gaze on our God, we will not sink.  

What is your wind? It is easy to allow what we feel to affect our faith.   Focus on the one who can guide you through the waves.  If He has not rebuked the wind on your behalf, perhaps there is purpose in the wind.   He calls us out but He never said there wouldn't be any wind.  He only said to keep our eyes on Him and He will perfect our faith.  Moving forward takes faith.  Move forward with confidence toward our God and look to Him, the author and finisher of our faith.

Truth for Today:  Hebrews 12: 1b-2a  "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."  (emphasis added)