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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Not a Picnic on the Beach

Many days, life feels more like a storm on a sea than a picnic on a beach. This morning I read Matthew 14—it is the story of when Jesus’ disciples found themselves out on the Sea of Galilee in a great storm. (Even if you know the story, indulge me and read it again.)

During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:25-31, NIV)

When we are in the midst of any storm, the most important thing we can do is look for Jesus and walk toward Him. He is there in every situation, just waiting for us to turn to Him. And He wants us to trust His instruction. In the midst of that storm, Peter had enough faith to get out of the boat and walk toward Jesus. But when he took his eyes off of Him, Peter immediately began to sink.

Think about some of the storms we face, what Jesus says to us in the midst of them, and then what happens when we take our eyes off of Him:

The storm: Someone offends us.
Jesus says: Forgive as I have forgiven you. Turn the other cheek. Trust My love for you. Your security is in Me.
If we take our eyes off of Him: Waves of hurt overwhelm us.

The storm: Finances are really tight.
Jesus says: Seek first the Kingdom of God and I will take care of you. You matter so much to Me. I will meet all of your needs.
If we take our eyes off of Him: Waves of fear and discouragement overwhelm us.

The storm: Circumstances seem out of control.
Jesus says: Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. And My peace will surround you.
If we take our eyes off of Him: Waves of anxiety overwhelm us.

The storm: We are sick.
Jesus says: I am Your Healer. I will never leave you or forsake you. Trust Me. Even when you walk through the shadow of death, I am with you.
If we take our eyes off of Him: Waves of dread and concern overwhelm us.

The storm: Our responsibilities feel bigger than our human capacity.
Jesus says: Come to me. Keep company with me. Learn from me. With me you will find rest for your souls and the productivity your life is demanding.
If we take our eyes off of Him: We don’t even want to get back in the boat, we just want to swim for the shore.

So maybe you can identify with these “waves that overwhelm.” You are like Peter: you are walking in faith, but you’ve taken your eyes off of Jesus for a moment and you feel yourself sinking. Be like Peter and cry out, “Lord, save me!” And then trust that Jesus is reaching out His mighty hand and holding you. Take some time for your soul to rest in His arms. You can trust those arms that hold you!

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