This post has taken several drafts to get right. There are many storms in my life right now, and some have a profound impact on more than just me, so it makes it hard to write about them.
Testimony is a tricky thing sometimes. But I’m going to try to put it in here right…
There’s a lot of storms in my life right now. Personal finances, obstacles to pursuing the vision God gave me, but the biggest revolve around my health.
I have an intellectual understanding that Jesus paid for my health through the atonement, and that God would not withhold healing from me any more than He would withhold Salvation. It doesn’t help when my brain gets in the way of my Faith.
One of my heroes in the Gospels is Peter. Peter is a walking embodiment of “be careful what you ask for.”
“ And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.””
You have to respect Peter’s humanness. Crazy, but human.
What was Jesus going to respond? “It’s not me. Stay in the boat”?
Fear makes us do and say the craziest things sometimes. The boat was sinking. The storm swamping it. Peter knows the sea. He’s probably known men who had died in similar conditions. He knows the boat will sink.
But he sees Jesus is safe standing out on the water.
“Command me to come to You…”
I try to look to Jesus in the middle of my storms. Right now I take medication for diabetes, blood pressure problems I’ve never had, occasional bouts of anxiety due to PTSD, ADD, and most recently pain management for back pain. In the past I’ve also had depression, gout and a slew of other stuff that’s now dealt with.
But the storms are real. The impact they have is very real. They affect me and the people closest to me every time they strike.
Peter knew he would die if he didn’t do something different. But the way he did it was a bit crazy. He boxed Jesus into a situation He may not have intended. We all tend to do that sometimes.
But Peter was different.
After he boxes Jesus in, he doesn’t back down. Jesus says “Come” and Peter gets out of the boat and walks across the surface of the stormy sea towards Him. He only starts to falter as he’s almost at Jesus, and that’s when his brain kicks in and he looks at the storm instead of the Saviour.
Fascinatingly, Peter begins to sink. He doesn’t drop like a stone. His faith begins to be overwhelmed with fear and he starts to lose sight. But the time he’s already spent with Jesus has had some impact on him. He realises his predicament and calls out to Jesus.
He doesn’t try to go back to the boat.
He doesn’t try to swim.
He calls out to Christ and lets Jesus save him. Again.
It hit me when I re-read the story recently that Peter was essentially at Jesus’s side already. All Jesus does is reach out His hand to Peter. No wonder He asks “why did you doubt?” Peter has already done the hardest part – he stepped out and walked on the water. Only now he’s safe does he let fear take him.
We all do that as well. Within reach of our goal we quit.
But the Bible is full of stories of God’s Faithfulness when His children hold out for His intervention.
Daniel comes to mind. He’s more concerned about God than Nebuchadnezzar, so he allows himself to be thrown to the lions. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walk through fire rather than give up and come through without even the smell of smoke on them (Daniel 3:27). Again, Daniel prays for 21 days until the angel appears. He refuses to give up on God, and rightly so because Gabriel’s words are “…from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.” (Daniel 10:12-13)
Joseph waits, first as a slave, then as a prisoner. He never stops expecting God’s promise to him to be fulfilled. Years pass before he is elevated to Prime Minister of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh and from there he is given God’s wisdom to save the known world from the famine. King David is pursued for years by Saul after he is anointed king by Samuel, and he never gives up his integrity even when Saul is delivered into his hands, he refuses to lay a hand on God’s anointed.
Others including Esther, Elijah, Elisha, Ruth and Abraham all wait faithfully (eventually) for God’s promise to be fulfilled. In fact, Christians are a part of God’s promise to Abraham.
So why do we have such trouble waiting for God in the storm?
I touched on it in a previous post. We live in a fast-food society. There’s no space in our lives for weathering a storm if it isn’t over instantly.
Sometimes we look for an answer where we ask the wrong question, or with wrong motives. But sometimes it’s simply that we only planted the seed this morning. A harvest takes time to grow.
Miracles are, of course, an exception. Sometimes God moves by cutting through our circumstances, according to the power at work in us. We limit His ability to give through our ability to receive. But even then, He gives us grace and strength to weather the storm.
We just need to learn to stand.