At church tonight (s/o to Traders Point!), the guest speaker gave a very powerful analogy. When a parent takes a child to the doctor and the child needs a shot, the parent never encourages the child to look at the needle. The parent knows the needle is going to sting…and so a loving parent will tell his child, “Baby, look at me. Look at me.” Look away from the needle and look at the face of one who loves you. If I’m in the room and I’m allowing the pain to occur, you can rest assured that the pain is necessary for a higher good.
Saw a movie (“The Shack”) after church (yes, I know it’s controversial and perhaps another post will address my thoughts on why I think it’s worth reading/seeing)…and one particular scene featured Jesus telling Mack those same words–“Look at Me.”
How easy it is to focus on our pain, to wallow in doubt, to wrestle with anxiety…yet how simple the solution is: Look at Jesus.
“Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Multiple lessons to learn from this story:
1) Jesus sent them into the boat, knowing it would be beaten by the waves because the wind was against them. Friend, don’t assume that opposition is a sign you’re not in the will of God. In this case, the will of God involved sending his beloved disciples into a storm. Don’t jump ship, but strain your eyes for Jesus, lean in to hear your Savior.
2) He came to them. He did not abandon them–He never leaves His children. That’s a promise He made and He’s the Promise Keeper. And He may appear in your life in an unusual way–remember that though this story may be familiar to some of us, it’s never normal to see a man walking on water…yet that’s how Jesus came to them. He literally WALKED on water in the midst of a storm. He will stop at nothing to get to you, friend.
3) A word from Jesus dispels all fear. Initially the disciples are freaking out that they’re seeing a ghost. What we see now as a miracle, they saw then as a terrifying event. Perhaps there’s stuff happening in your own life that you view as terrifying/discouraging/unwanted…but will one day be able to see it more clearly as a miracle in the midst of the storm. Jesus knew they were afraid and He IMMEDIATELY spoke to calm their fears. The storm hadn’t ceased yet, yet Jesus instructed them to recognize His presence and not to fear. It’s easy to live by faith when the storm ceases…but that’s not real faith…it’s rearview mirror faith. Jesus wants us to have faith in Him even in the midst of the storm. He allowed the storm to continue–He wanted them to trust His presence rather than rely on circumstances. And He gives us the same instructions today: “Take heart, it is I; do not fear.”
4) As soon as Peter hears Jesus, he’s ready to jump out of the boat. There’s a storm going on, but Peter is focused on Jesus’ voice. The fact that Peter says, “Lord, IF it is You…” makes me wonder if he still couldn’t see Jesus clearly. Which makes this even more amazing. Peter was ready to jump out of a boat simply because he heard Jesus. The voice of God can still lead us today even when we can’t see Him.
5) Our focus determines whether we sink or swim. For some reason, I’d always imagined this story as Peter attempting to walk towards Jesus, then getting scared before he reached Jesus. But as I’m reading it tonight, it seems like Peter made it to Jesus, then got scared. “Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came to Jesus.” But then he saw the wind. When his focus turned from Jesus to the wind, he became afraid. Now remember, the wind hadn’t ceased when he was walking on water. But he hadn’t noticed it when he was focused on Jesus. As soon as he noticed it and became afraid, he began to sink and cried out for Jesus to save him. And IMMEDIATELY Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter, asking him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And only once they got in the boat did the wind cease. The wind was not the determining factor in this story–Jesus is the determining factor in every story. Don’t just look away from the wind…look away TO Jesus.
I don’t know your situation today–but Jesus knows. And He’s not abandoned you. You may feel like He has–believe me, I’ve been there. But He has never left my side. Not for a moment. He’s always there, ready to IMMEDIATELY reach out His hand and take hold of me…take hold of you.
Hear the voice of your Savior today:
“Baby, look at Me. Look at Me.”
God’s grace in my life today:
I fell in love with the heart of my God again today. He loves me so much–He’s collected every tear, He’s heard every prayer, He’s been with me every step. How He loves us so.