Navigating Life’s Storms

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This canvas spoke to me when I first saw it in of all places, the “Icing” jewelry and accessories store in the mall. I just had to buy it. It reminds me of so any Bible verses, including the story of Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14:22-33 (ESV).

22Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat by this time was a long wayb from the land,c beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 28And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind,d he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Jesus did not calm the sea before telling Peter to come to him. He called Peter to walk to Him on the stormy sea. Peter stepped out in faith, but he faltered when he saw the wind. Why? He took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the problem. How often do we do that? We start out strong with our eyes on Jesus, but when troubles arise our gaze goes to the troubles and we begin to worry, fear, and doubt. We become so fixated on the problem we forget to turn to the problem solver. Jesus promises us that though we have troubles we can take heart,  because he has overcome the world (John 16:33).

The thing I love about Peter is his heart.
Peter was the only disciple to step out of the boat. He wanted to be a man of great faith. He did have faith enough to get out of the boat and take some steps before sinking, and he was the only disciple that made it out of the boat.

I also identify with Peter. I think many people do. He had a habit of acting and speaking without thinking, aka “foot-in-mouth disease.” He sometimes had a problem with pride. Though these things are negatives, they do show he had a heart that wanted to do right. His biggest failure was the night Jesus was betrayed.

27And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”29Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. Mark 14:27-31 ESV

Pride. Short lived pride. Peter wanted to be everything he said to Jesus, but fear overtook him. On the water. In the Garden of Gethsemane. When he denied Jesus not once, or twice, but three times outside of Jesus’ trial. When Peter heard the rooster crow twice after his third denial he wept bitterly (Mark 14:72), because he knew he failed, again. Can you imagine how Peter must have felt, denying His Lord that way?

I have beaten myself up emotionally over past failures. There was a point in my life I was sure that God could never love me or forgive me for the things I had done. And when that point came, God spoke life and hope to me through my Father. He said, quite loudly, “How dare you?! How dare you not forgive yourself when God already has?! Are you better than God?!” That was a turning point for me, my faith, and my whole life, and my children’s lives and their children’s lives (Psalm 103:17).

I am sure that Peter must have felt so ashamed of himself.  It must have been a hard three days while Jesus was buried. And what must have been going through Peter’s mind when he first saw the resurrected Jesus? How could he possibly look Him in the eye? How could Jesus forgive him for denying Him?

Jesus knew Peter’s heart and his weaknesses. It didn’t stop Him from calling Peter as His disciple. Some of the disciples had a not so savory past. But Jesus called them, too. Jesus is not so much concerned with where we’ve been as He is where we’re going. Before Jesus ascended to heaven He reinstated Peter.
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17The third time he said to him,“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” John 21:15-19 NIV

Jesus wanted Peter and us to know that He knows we will mess up from time to time, but He does not define us by those things and we should not either. By nature we have weaknesses, but God spoke these words to Paul, and they echo down through the centuries to speak to us as well…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

If we repent of our failures and submit to God’s leading, His grace will make us stronger and better able to serve Him and those He brings into our lives. He makes us overcomers by His power at work within us. The only way we truly fail is if we don’t learn from our mistakes and allow them by God’s grace to help us overcome future temptations and to speak life and hope to others in need of Jesus’ love, grace, and forgiveness.

So, don’t beat yourself up and define yourself by the times you stumble and fall.  Take the mess to the Creator and let Him turn it into a beautiful message of hope for others.

If a sailor never face a stormy sea, he would never truly know what kind of sailor he is, because his skills are not tested. It is the same for us as believers. It’s easy to profess a deep faith when life is calm and trouble free, but when trouble comes and we feel tossed about, does our faith carry us through or do we lose control and sink our boats? If we turn over the helm of our boats to Jesus the wind may toss us about and some water may lap over into the boat, but we will not lose control and sink. He will help us bail-out the boat and sail us into a safe port.

Blessings and peace,

Julia

#ChoosingJoy #LivingPraise #AnchoredInHope #FaithSeesWhatEyesCannot

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