have you ever noticed how much easier it is for a friend or loved one to give advice, or be faithful, when they aren’t the one going through “the thing” themselves? and who knows, maybe they did…maybe they didn’t…but it is still not the same.
i mean…..it is much easier for your friend to talk about being a loving and submissive wife…about having her husband’s favorite dinner ready and on the table when he gets home and flirting with him, leaving love notes for him….encouraging you to do the same and how it will improve your marriage greatly….that is what she is supposed to do, encourage you in friendship and love. but it sure is easy when she doesn’t go home to your man who rarely looks you in the face…never has a kind word to say and hasn’t initiated a romantic touch…or a touch of any kind with you, i guess, unless you include the high five he gave you and the boys after tony romo’s touchdown throw. her ideas sound great. they sound easy, from her world, not from yours.
or maybe you have a friend who has a great idea on how to lose weight. whether it is counting points…..or calories…..or carbs…..or sheep for goodness sake, who knows? she makes it sound sooo easy. and while you are lunch, you see her mouth moving and hear words coming out, but all you can focus on is how adorable she looks in her size 6 capris and adorable tank top. so you are smiling and politely nodding at her, but at the same time, trying to remember the last time you even showed your upper arms in public…was it before kids? before college? then you are jolted back to reality when she giggles and says, “i knew you would try it! good for you!” you aren’t quite sure what you agreed to do, but you are thankful that the waiter has just interrupted the conversation and brought you your double bacon cheeseburger, fries and handspun chocolate milkshake. you purposely avoid eye-contact with your friend as she gets ready to bless her food, if you can call that food…looks like tree bark and grass to you…with oil and vinaigrette….. on the side, of course.
or, like me…you are currently dealing with the faith vs. fear thing. worry vs. faith. whatever you wanna call it…you too might be dealing with a very hard time in your life that you are having to trust God through. i know i am. and i have so many people, God-fearing, God-loving, God-serving people who love me dearly, who pray for me constantly, but who still, in the back of their minds, might be baffled that i’m still dealing with this “thing”. STILL?? seriously? “c’mon, you need to just give it to God.” “He wants to take it from you.” “He can be trusted!” oh how i know this to be true. i would not have made it these past TEN MONTHS without these truths etched into my mind and soul. and i know people mean well, i really do. i am thankful for my dear friends and their love and support, especially during this time. but i must admit….that on occasion, i have wanted to say “ya know, cut me a little slack people…this has been such an unbelievably hard year for me, medically speaking, and i must admit that truly giving my life, my dreams, my plans, my children’s futures, my husband, ALL of it….TRULY giving all of that up…isn’t quite as easy lying from a hospital bed. would you consider that to be fair of me to say?” now, do i still do it? ABSOLUTELY!! i have to. i must. Romans 12:1 tells me to “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.” and like my pastor always says, the darn thing about a living sacrifice is that the thing keeps getting up off the altar. ding, that’s me. thanks a lot, pastor bill. so, daily i have to give this thing to God. some days are easier than others. i am so thankful He hasn’t given up on me yet. and I’m thankful He won’t. but, you must admit, that from someone else’s side of this, looking in, it may be a bit easier to say all these things if they weren’t in the middle of this type of confusing unanswerable, painful, emotional, DRAWN OUT, medical drama. fair statement?
now, i know that everyone is going through something. your thing right now may be financial crisis, or addiction of some kind. you may be having serious and scary issues of safety with your kids. you may be struggling with your aging parents and the toll that takes on you. i could not relate to any of that. but, thankfully God can. and He’s the only one we can look to who can truly help us and understand us. but i can try to be there for you, like so many have tried to be there for me. that is what we are called to do, after all. and i’m aware that my thing isn’t the worst thing ever, trust me. i am thankful to God and He is good at giving me a dose of perspective, for sure. but for me, living it right now, it is a big deal, and it is hard.
this all reminds me so much of peter. (matthew 14) you know, right after the disciples saw Jesus feed the five thousand with the five loaves of bread and two fish….i mean…c’mon what a ministry high that must have been. they must have been praising and shouting and just jumping for joy that they were a prt of something so amazing, so big, so powerful!! so, they got in a boat and Jesus stayed back on the mountainside to dismiss the people and then to be by himself and pray. (sidenote: if the God made flesh needed to take time out to pray alone, i’m thinking you and i do too..just a thought) so then He noticed that the boat had gotten so far out from the shore. so, what did he do? did he take a jetski out and get there quick? nah. true, they weren’t technically invented yet, but seriously, we are talking about Jesus here, He could have pulled anything off. did He ask them to come back and get Him? nope. He was worthy of a shuttle service but didn’t ask for one. Did he just appear on their boat “I Dream of Jeannie” style? no. He did the completely unexpected and the thing no one had ever done, he walked out on the water. He met them in a way they didn’t know He could. it was the middle of the night, and since they didn’t know He could do that, they saw something and thought it was a ghost and THEY WERE AFRAID!! even though they knew Jesus was God and could take care of anything at all, their first response was fear. gee….i can’t relate to that at all. (insert sarcasm) so he chills them out and says (v.27)”take courage, it is i. don’t be afraid” personally i love this, for a couple reasons. one, he doesn’t seem to get too mad that His own “bros” don’t even recognize him, c’mon guys, it’s me!! second, he tells them to TAKE courage….they still have a choice, it is still on them. they gotta take it. i gotta take it. you gotta take it.
so, peter does. he says, (v.28) “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” so, Jesus says, “alright dude, what’s this “if” business, it’s me, get out here, you chicken.” ok not really, that’s probably what i would have said. Jesus just says one word, “Come.” and peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water. what in the world must that have been like?? this wasn’t a calm little pond….or a kiddy pool he was dipping his toes in. it was a huge lake and it was dark….windy…rough….not to mention, something he had never experienced before. peter has his eyes on Jesus and was walking towards Jesus and he was fine…doing something that no one else had ever done before, except the Son of Man. but, then, just like me, and maybe just like you…peter began to look around him. peter looked at the uneasy surroundings….whooosh….peter looked at the wind….whoooooshhh and peter was afraid…..and peter began to sink.
man oh man, how many times have i done that?? taken my eyes off of Jesus and looked at my surroundings….whooosh…..ya see my wind does sound a little different right now….in fact, currently it is beep, beep, beep, beep, beep….that sound means my iv fluid transfusion is almost complete…harmless enough, except that fear reminds me with those beeps that the reason i have to stay on this fluid is to make sure my spinal fluid is regenerating enough so my brain doesn’t sink down into my head when they do finally let me stand up this afternoon. whoooosh….another of my wind noises is more of a wrrrr, wrrrrr, wrrrr…it is the sound of the things i have affectionately named my “leg squeezy thingys” that alternate squeezin my calves and fear reminds me that this wind noise is to ensure i don’t get a blood clot in my leg since i have been so inactive for 11 days now. whooooosh.
peter saw the wind. he took his eyes of Jesus and he sank. i have done the same. two nights ago i was so concerned about whether or not this procedure had worked that i lost sleep, tensed up muscles and got an awful migraine type headache and generally made myself have a miserable day……all because i took my eyes off Jesus.
now, keep in mind, that peter called out pretty quickly to Jesus, as i imagine any of us would, and as i know i have…”Lord, save me!” and Jesus did. in fact verse 31 says that “IMMEDIATELY Jesus reached out His hand and caught Him” but then i must admit what he says next stings a little for me, at least. “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” ouch.
ya see….Jesus’ feet were wet. and so were peter’s. peter should have known that he could have 100% trusted Jesus, because Jesus was out there with him the whole time! but man, sometimes when you are in the midst of the storm, and you got waves crashing around you, it is SOOOOO hard to drown out the whoooooshing sounds of that obnoxiously loud wind. especially because of John 10:10 and we know the enemy is standing right there with his megaphone yelling WHOOOOOOSHHHHH as loud as he can too!!
i would like to point out though, that the other disciples, ya know, the ones in the boat….although having been through a lot with both Jesus and peter….now had one thing no longer in common with peter…they had dry feet. once back on board, it would have very easy for them to say “oh, c’mon peter, you shouldn’t have been afraid. your faith should be stronger than that. you just need to trust Him.” and yes, they are supposed to build him up in the faith, don’t get me wrong…but just remember, they are doing it with dry feet. sure, some of them were fishermen, they’d waded in shallow water, swum in deep water….but never anything like this. they didn’t know what it felt like to walk upon that water. they didn’t hear, with the same volume, or feel with the same fierceness, the strength of that wind. and they certainly didn’t know what it felt like to sink.
so, i pray that Jesus will equip each of us with an amazing dose of empathy. to be there for our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. maybe we have been through something so similar as they have been…i KNOW and FIRMLY believe God brings people alongside you to walk rough roads with you, and i thank Him for that. i personally have been blessed with a handful of people who have walked alongside me this entire time…me, stomping along with my wet feet, sometimes stomping out of anger or fear, sometimes out of joy and submission….but they’ve stuck by me, with their dry feet in this area, but loving on me, praying for me and being there for me, as best they can from where they are. and boy do i thank God for them. i want to encourage all of us though, if you haven’t been through it, remember your dry feet on the issue….and simply try to love them. and if you are the one, like me whose feet are drip, drop soaking wet and have been for a while….DO NOT forget the Only One whose feet are as wet as yours…our Jesus. and He will be there immediately. He will never let you down. you….and He….will remain with you and your pruny, wet feet together, until He’s ready for you to get back in the boat. until then, don’t take your eyes off of Him.
Joshua 1:5 “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”