I often identify with Peter especially in the story of Jesus walking on water. (Matthew 14) It's windy and stormy. It was a difficult night. The translation in Mark states that "they were making headway painfully".
This phrase jumped out at me as I recall one of my most recent cries to God...everything seems to come slow and hard. Parenthood, growing in faith, finding victory over depression and anxiety, ministry, dreams, etc. Then there are the more practical things like cooking and housework that really seem to push me over the edge. Like the thought of going to the grocery store today makes me not want to get out of bed. Silly, I know.
Even this morning I think I cried something to the affect of, "everything seems like a chore, taking concerted effort all of the time". And maybe it's this season of life...
Either way, I often feel I am making "headway painfully". I am growing, yes. Changing even, yet the process is always slow and hard.
You read farther and Jesus walks out onto the water. They were afraid, of course, they didn't recognize Him. Jesus speaks to them, letting them know it is him and implores them to not be afraid.
Now I could be quick to criticize the disciples questioning how they could not recognize their friend, their leader. Yet, again, I am often no different.
I think about this in specific regards to parenthood as I live in the world of "making headway painfully" and in fear or uncertainty I call out. In response, he cries, "Do not be afraid. Remember, I am here. I am present. I have got you. Come to me, grab my hand." And I shake my head because once again he had to call it out, remind me of it rather than me having faith enough to be confident of it. Thank God for His grace.
I also think of other areas like ministry where the process is slow or the outcome unexpected and I cry out in frustration or fear. And he responds I am here, I am present. In fact, I am giving you what you prayed for. That was a recent conversation as well.
Big sigh...which brings me back to why I am so much like Peter. Sweet Peter. Bold and passionate, yet fearful and insecure. How can you be both? I don't know, but you can because I am.
I was at the park this morning having some extended quiet time, and a woman approached my window. Talk about fearful. Introverted me quickly assessed the situation...just drive away quickly, pretend I don't see her, or reluctantly open the window. Hey, I'm just being honest.
I opened the window. She turned out to be a precious lady named Diane who was there representing the Jehovah's Witness ministry. I happened to be reading my Bible, which she found delightful. We proceeded to have a nice conversation. She asked what I was reading and I told her the passage regarding Jesus walking on water. We talked about it a few minutes, and she said something that caught me and brought tears to my eyes.
It is what I already know about this passage, but before she came to my window-I was having a terrible time focusing on the heart of the passage. It was pulling and luring me in, yet I couldn't focus in on the specific heart of what God wanted me to hear.
And then she said this: Peter so bold (a word I have always used to describe him) demands to know for certain it's Jesus, and then...just walks out. Yet, he loses focus and starts to waiver and sink.
And my heart jumped within me as I said, "Yes!"
Jesus just used this sweet Jehovah's Witness to speak truth right into my soul.
As long as I know it is Jesus calling me to walk out, I will passionately move out and follow. I will walk boldly - wildly excited to follow my Father. BUT, I step out and feel the wind, the waves, the setbacks, the obstacles, the lack of ability, the insecurity...eek. I get distracted.
Regularly becoming distracted by the "painful headway", the lack of progress, or fixed on my failures or fears, like Peter, my boldness and passion for the Lord begins to falter as I lose my focus and begin to sink. Then I find myself crying with Peter, Lord rescue me! Lead me, guide me, show me your way. And Jesus-always steady-reaches out to grasp my hand.
What incredible patience and mercy He has, because we play this scenario countless times. Bold, courageous, and passionate...doubtful, fearful, and distracted...
Yet, the lesson to be learned here is not so much that I am going to not ever fail or ever doubt or ever fear-BUT-it's that if I keep my eyes on Jesus and NOT on the "painful headway" I am making-Jesus jumps in the boat and causes the wind to cease. He holds my hand. I have the right perspective. And even if the boat were to rock and the progress be slow and hard, I stand firm and secure in my Father's love and grace.
The act of my surrender and intentional centering on Him keeps our hands grasped and him dwelling in the boat of my heart.
This growing in faith is NOT easy. It was never meant to be easy. But eyes on Jesus makes it doable.
It's a soul thing, it's a mental thing, and it's a will thing. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, centering our minds on our Father, and surrendering our souls to Him - it's what causes the wind to cease and the "painful headway" to be put into the right perspective.
Heb. 12:2- We keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
And thank you, Diane, for the reminder of this verse:
Psalm 112:6-8 - For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
Is.26:3 - You keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
My Savior in the boat with hands grasped...we've got this.