Great faith chooses to get out of the boat.
Great faith chooses to walk toward Jesus and believe Him when He calls.
Great faith keeps her eyes fixed on His eyes and looks full in His wonderful face.
Great faith chooses HIM regardless of the temptations that are swelling all around her.
Reality is that life outside the boat can be flat-out scary. Minimally, it can be uncomfortable. All manner of temptation lurks attempting to take your focus off of Jesus.
temptation to look around at the progressive waves of your own flesh and Satan’s attacks ready to take you under, one after another…after another
temptation to consider the actual depth of the waters you find yourself in
temptation to know the vast limitations of your own swimming skills and your general lack of endurance
temptation to lean on your own understanding that walking on water is, in fact, not humanly possible
temptation to think that you can do this water-walking alone or that your way is perhaps better than His, which is blatantly preposterous given points 1-4, and yet remains a temptation never-the-less
temptation to hear the safety of the boat beckoning you to get back in for goodness sake and dry off and get warm, are you crazy? who does this? protect yourself!!!
temptation to tell Him “no thanks” the next time He invites you out, this water-walking of great faith is fine for someone who is stronger than you or knows more than you or actually has the mustard seed’s worth of faith He asks in order to see some kind of miracle like this
But, Jesus. But, JESUS. BUT, JESUS!!! Praise His Name!
He never leaves. He always rescues.
I don’t believe I’ve ever been out on the deep waters of faith like I am right now. Certainly not this deep. I don’t recall having an opportunity to believe for the impossible as much as I have this year. The first 3 months of 2016 were smooth sailing, quite honestly. Not many waves at all, it wasn’t very scary and quite frankly I had literally received every answer I wanted from the Lord for some pretty bold requests. Particularly, I had been tracking dead-on with my expectations being very high in what I knew God could do and expectations very low as to the “how” He might do them. But, last night was the 2nd time in 2 weeks that I got a neti-pot style cleansing of the sinuses with salty sea water (great analogy brought to you from last week’s episode of Living Proof with Beth Moore)…because last night I took my eyes off my Savior for a second and looked fully at what my human brain was willing to wrap around. This is not an effective tactic when you are out on the water. Just ask Peter. It’s always better to recognize Who Jesus is, and stick with Him.
In this particular situation last night though, I saw only what did Jesus not do instead of what He did…even though He performed a total miracle. Have you ever done that?
Then, I sulled up. I don’t know if that’s actually a word, y’all. But that’s what my Dad says when a horse he’s training stops responding to him; basically the horse goes into lockdown about to throw a fit. It’s the same word we use in our family when people act like that (finger pointing directly at ME). All in my heart. Every bit of it. Outwardly, I was saying words of thanksgiving and gratitude and acting how I was supposed to act when God comes through in such a massive way.
Mere words never fool God though. He doesn’t care all that much about our “external” looking good, does He? He tells us over and over and over again it’s the condition of our heart that He’s concerned about. And when I woke up this morning after partially repenting and knowing my heart was not right, He was right there inviting me into full-on repentance.
I was not the 1 leper who came running to Jesus’ feet when I realized what He had done like I should have been (Luke 17). He deserved massive praise from me! He deserved tears of joy and my heart to have been leaping out of my chest in thanksgiving! But, that’s not what He received from me last night. The sin of pride crept in mightily underneath me and enveloped me and brought me crashing down hard, as pride always does (Proverbs 16:18). And no one else knows. Only me and my patient, kind, Holy and wonder-working God. (Well, now y’all do…but we are to confess our sin to one another, right? (James 5:16))
I was offended that He didn’t perform the miracle I was believing Him for in the way that I expected it. I was annoyed in my spirit that His method of healing was different than I had made my mind up that it would be. He didn’t follow my orders.
My hands literally shake even typing those 5 words. But, it’s the truth. That’s why I withheld my praise.
I ask the Lord continually not to let my flesh get away with anything displeasing to Him. And, He didn’t. He didn’t let me stay hard-hearted very long, praise His Name. He didn’t have to beat my wayward thinking out of me, either. (Insert memories of stubborn horses who have not been so fortunate). For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11 ESV). He always knows what we need. He’s a good, good Father that way, isn’t He?
As Romans 2:4 says, it was His kindness that led me to repentance. And as only God can, He timed it where I had to read Matthew chapter 11 out loud to my family in our nightly Bible reading when all of this battle was happening in my heart. It’s the story of when John the Baptist is in prison asking if Jesus really is the One. It’s when John is sitting there thinking, “There is NO WAY if Jesus is who He says He is that He’s leaving me in this prison!” And you know what Jesus sent John’s disciples to go back and tell him…
Blessed is the one who is not offended by Me. (Matthew 11:6 ESV)
He loved John so much. But, Jesus didn’t do what John expected. John had a really hard outcome awaiting him and he had to trust that Jesus was who He said He was. And Jesus wanted John to experience blessing.
Offense never brings blessing.
Humility before and trust in Jesus always does.
And when I woke up this morning I heard the Lord say to my heart, “Look fully into my face.” In other words, He was asking me to look at His eyes. Just like I try to get my sulled-up 4 year old to do when he’s upset so that I can speak truth and life to him. Just like Jesus was doing for John the Baptist.
He’s so kind.
He knows that if we will look at His eyes our feet will not sink into the ocean of doubt surrounding us.
And you know what is starting to well up in my heart right now…12 hours after my highly disappointing water-walking performance? I’m starting to feel Him call me out there again with Him.
He has brought me way too far to turn back now. I’m out here with Him. Come what feels like hell or at least high waters, I am His. The truth is that the gates of hell actually will NOT prevail! It can feel like it, it can look like it, and it can seem like all of it is breaking loose in your circumstances in front of everyone or maybe only in your own heart where no one else knows. When Jesus said, “It is finished.” He meant it, and Satan knows it. Our battle with flesh and enemy are not over just yet, but we can rest assured that we are overcomers because we belong to Jesus!
And He is always good. And He never leaves us. And He never forsakes.
He loves us, as my little boy says, “Really MUCH!”
He is an ‘again’ kind of God. He delights when we humble ourselves and realize how much we need Him. I had to realize that I have NO idea what all He did in this situation. Someday I will find out, and He will put an exclamation point on His sovereignty. And, I’ll rejoice again that He did not leave me in my pit of haughtiness.
We know that it’s impossible to please Him without faith. And I want to please Him. I want to hear Him say well-done. I know you do, too.
We want to look full in His wonderful face because it’s that same face that bowed before the Father and sweat drops of blood because His own will was not matching up with the Father’s at the moment. He was willing to deny Himself and take up His cross so that you and I could get out of the boat with Him one more time in great faith.
He’s trustworthy for a million reasons…mostly because He’s been where I am, but He didn’t fail. He has felt all the emotions I have but didn’t sin. He’s felt more pain than I’ll ever imagine, and walked through more heart-breaking situations with His children over millennia and it didn’t keep Him from radically leaving His throne to rescue the 1.
I want to be more like Him.
Whatever He says, I’m in again. Wherever He leads, I’m going.
Whatever He is doing in the Earth and has a mind to invite me to walk with Him…I’m all in with Jesus.
And it’s not because I trust me.
I trust Him.