In the midst of turbulent times, we are easy prey to discouragement, cynicism, fear and hatred. Images constantly flash in front of our eyes of violence and human wickedness and it is very difficult to not be overwhelmed with all the “bad news” that incessantly bombards us. It is an easy thing to look at all this tragedy and surrender to despair.
Maybe we didn’t start that way. As we begin our relationship with God through Jesus Christ we are immediately drawn to His omnipotence and the beauty of His grace and wisdom. We want to know Him better. We want to walk with Him on the sea of circumstances, not enslaved to our problems and our failures but able to tread upon them victoriously.
Wasn’t that the Lord’s way of handling life? He never turned aside from His path to the Cross but instead “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). He walked upon the swirling currents of resentment and jealousy of others, oblivious to the stinging winds of their false accusations and slanderous rumors.
Jesus inspired then and inspires now a desire to rise above mere “humanness.” When Jesus touches our lives, arriving unexpectedly on the scene as He did in Matthew 14:22-33, we may cry out to Him, “Lord, let me join You on the water” (from Matthew 14:28). He invites us to His side, spiritually opening our eyes to His perspective. We get out of the boat of our comfort zones and our plans for security and success. We start to walk with Him.
But then, in the corner of our eyes, we see someone’s smirk or condescension at our “religious crutch”. We feel the lapping of the waves of things demanding our attention, screaming for “their due”. We feel the sting of the rain of pseudo-responsibilities and we think, “I’ll spend time with God once I get this one other thing taken care of.”
Our eyes shift from Jesus, His love for us and His perfect wisdom. Our ears become so busy sifting messages from the world that Jesus’ words of guidance, grace and strength are lost and we find ourselves, like Peter in Matthew 14:30, sinking beneath the surging seas of stress and burn-out.
Sadly, we often don’t think to cry out to the Lord as Peter did. We stubbornly refuse to release control of our lives to Him. Or we panic and flail about desperately, trying to keep our heads above water as we try to find quick fixes to the predicaments that we seem to be surrounded by.
“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Psalm 69:1-2 ESV).
There is only one way to walk on the water. It’s to turn our eyes to Jesus and allow Him to pull us up to His side. The world will blow its hurricane winds upon us, trying to drive us on a course contrary to God’s will. Our lives will swirl with the turbulence of problems and loss, seeking to suck us down into the depths of despair and defeat. But the Son of God Who stilled the storms can bring hope and life again to our spiritually sea-sick hearts.
May our eyes then be drawn to the beauty of His face. As we step out of our boats may His holiness, love and strength irresistibly draw us to His side.
“I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!’ Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, He saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:1-9 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)