Even in the ugly and the messy.

Do you ever catch yourself making something a lot harder than it has to be?  I know I sure do.  I can take something that is so simple, so easy, and make it such a big knotted-up mess.  I tend to over think things or else I let my mind wander into places of fear and anxiety.  I’ve even caught myself a few times owning somebody else’s issues and getting myself torn slam out of the frame over something that’s not even my thing to carry.  I think I’m better about all of this now that I’m on medication (haha!  but, seriously).  I don’t let things get quite as blown up as I used to…but it does still happen now and again.

And then there’s those times when the thing that you’re dealing with really is that bad.  It really is a big mess and it really can have major effects on your life and you have a legitimate reason to get torn out of the frame.  I’ve seen some of those times, too…in fact, I seem to have found myself right in the middle of one of those things here lately.

So what’s a person to do?

Well, I guess when we find ourselves in the middle of a situation that’s tough, or scary, or life changing, or down right all around crappy, we have a choice.  We can choose to be owned by our situation and let it drag us down into the pit.  We can hang our heads and let the darkness swallow us alive.  We can sink into the sea of despair.

Or.

We can reach out for the hand of Jesus and walk on the water.

Something occurred to me here just a minute ago.  In Matthew 14 starting in verse 22, we read about a time when the disciples were out in a boat and it’s kinda windy and the waves are beating the boat around.  They look out and they see what they think is a ghost walking on the water.   That’s when Jesus speaks to them and they realize it’s Him.  And Peter says, “Lord if that’s you, then tell me to come to you on the water,” and Jesus simply says, “Come.”  So Peter gets out of the boat and starts walking on the water towards Jesus, but when he looks up at the wind, he gets scared and starts to sink.  Jesus immediately reaches out his hand and sets Peter back into the boat.

And I noticed something just now that I don’t know that I’ve really considered before.  When I’ve ever read or been taught about this story, the focus has always been on Peter’s lack of faith and how he allows his fear of the wind to cause him to take his eyes off Jesus and therefore start sinking in the water.  And keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus is certainly a definite lesson to be learned from this passage.  But something else caught my attention this time.

Jesus didn’t stop the storm.   And Peter didn’t ask him to.

Jesus didn’t tell Peter, “Hey, hold up there, guy.  Let me calm this wind down and then you can come to me.”

And Peter didn’t say, “Lord if that’s you, then tell me to come to you…I mean, like right after you settle this crazy wind down.  Geez.”

It wasn’t like Jesus couldn’t have eased the storm a bit first.  He surely had authority over both the wind and the waves (Mark 4:35-41).

And it wasn’t like Peter couldn’t clearly have noticed the wind before he got out of the boat.  The Bible says the boat was “battered by the waves because the wind was contrary.”  Battered?  That sounds rough.

But in that split second faith decision Peter made to get out of the boat, the only thing he was thinking about in that moment was getting to Jesus.  Right up until he let the fear of his circumstances get bigger in his mind than the God who called him into them.

Nevertheless…this whole walking on water?  It was a success.  Sometimes we get fixated on the fact that Peter got scared and started sinking, and I think I’ve been missing the awesomeness of the moment by not looking even further into the thing.  See, maybe Peter didn’t walk ten miles, but the fact is that he walked and he got to Jesus…or rather Jesus got to him.

It’s kinda like coaxing a baby who’s just learning to walk to come to you.  They’ve watched you do it so they know it’s a doable thing.  You hold out your hands and they take those first wobbly steps and usually end up right on their bottom.  And so what do we do?  Do we write off the little one right there and say, “Oh well, you’re done.  You can forget about walking.”  Of course not!  We go to them, pick them up, set them back on those little feet and keep coaxing, keep teaching and little by little, they start to walk more and more until eventually they’re not just walking, but they’re running and jumping and bouncing and getting into everything and…anyway.

Jesus was teaching Peter to walk.

And not only that?  Jesus was teaching Peter to trust Him enough to walk even when the situation was less than optimal for walking.

Sometimes Jesus will calm the storm you’re in.  Sometimes He won’t.  And when He doesn’t?  You get on out there and walk right in the middle of that storm knowing that He’s right there.  Go after Him no matter what.  I don’t know that it’s so much about the awesomeness of walking on the water (although that was pretty darn awesome and all the other folks in the boat sure thought so).  I think it’s about teaching us to trust Jesus even when everything is all messy and ugly and not going at all like you planned or prayed for.  You can stand firm knowing He’s right on the water with you.  And He’ll be there if it all gets to be too much and you start to sink.  And when it’s all said and done, He’ll be there with you in the boat when the storm is gone.

Don’t give up, friend.  Keep learning.  Keep taking those baby steps of faith.  Keep trusting in Him.

Because He is good.

He is faithful.

He is trustworthy.

Believe it.

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One thought on “Even in the ugly and the messy.

  1. Oh, so perfect Jenny. What faith he took to just jump on out in that water. I can only imagine that I would have prayed for the circumstances to be just right before leaving that boat…if I left it. Beautifully said!

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