It's Just a Storm
"Immediately Jesus reached for Peter and caught him, O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?” Matthew 14:31 (The Voice)
The reason I’ve given my life to sharing God’s word is because, as Hebrews 4:12 says, it is “alive and active.” If we take it in and meditate on His word regularly it will speak to us, but its wisdom will also sink deep and take root in our souls in such a way that it will speak again later as we need it. This is how I know it is “alive.” The past few weeks for me have been rough. Life, COVID’s continued presence, relationships, work, all of it have been mixing together to create the most irritating of storms. Last week as I stepped back and tried to look at everything that was happening from a different perspective, the story of Jesus walking on the water toward the disciples in Matthew 14 came to mind. Jesus told the disciples to get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake, so they went. He knew the storm was coming, and though it was real and fierce, his original intent had not changed… the disciples were going to the other side of the lake. I think most people upon a quick read miss this little fact. As this story came to memory, it began to speak into my situation. I thought of everything swirling so fiercely around me, shaking my “emotional boat” and I heard this whisper in my soul, “Steph, it’s just a storm. Yes, it’s real and it’s hard and it’s fierce, but listen to me, it’s just a storm. It’s just a storm.” It may seem strange, but the peace these words brought through this story gave me incredible rest. I thought to myself, “Yes, ok, this is helpful.” So for the past week, that mantra in my head has been simple… “It’s just a storm.” If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I hate trite Christian cliché words and phrases that minimize pain and try to put a Jesus Band-Aid on things. That’s not what I’m trying to do here in my example, so to prove it I’ll give you the skinny on the days that followed. “It’s just a storm” did help tremendously UNTIL a few days later when the storm tossed a wave at me that almost capsized my “emotional boat”. Yes, I’m being cryptic but only because the specifics don’t matter. What matters is that something I had been hoping for and believing in for recent months collapsed. I had gotten out of the boat with Jesus in the storm. I had hoped, I had been brave, I had trusted and WHAM the next thing I know I’m gagging with salt water stinging my eyes, nose, throat, and making it hard to breathe. I was sinking. What I mean is that at that moment I was doubting something Jesus was calling me to do and therefore going under. Yes, I doubt sometimes too. I feel I need to say this because people assume that being in ministry I never struggle with doubt. This could not be further from the truth. Life is hard and following Jesus doesn’t exempt anyone, including me, from the storms of doubt. So, what did I do? I wallowed. For several days I gave in to questioning so many things, eating my feelings, and watching too much Netflix. BUT, I made sure to pray and to read which kept my head above water. I may not have understood everything that was happening, but I knew God was present. Driving back from church on Sunday, the same story from Matthew 14 came to mind again, but this time with a different detail to focus on. The words, “It’s just a storm” came flooding in again but this time there was more. I realized that it was important to acknowledge the storm but ultimately, this wouldn’t sustain me if like Peter my eyes didn’t stay on Jesus. It’s such a small detail but it has given rise to hope again. When I feel the panic set in about the future, I hear the whisper, “Hey, look at me! LOOK AT ME. Steph, it’s just a storm. Keep your eyes on me; it’s just a storm.” I don’t know where you find yourself today in the sunshine or a storm. Wherever you are, keep your eyes on Jesus and keep talking to him about what is swirling around you. He is listening. Should you find yourself sinking, remember, even in his doubt, Jesus immediately caught Peter when he called out to Jesus. You can trust him. For Your Reflection… Keeping our eyes on Jesus is a great skill to cultivate no matter the situation. In the sunshine or the storm, fixing our gaze on him will keep us steady and not get taken over by the events surrounding us. What do you need to stop focusing on so that Jesus can have your full gaze?