Sunday, May 27, 2018

What It Means To Get Out Of The Boat & Walk On Water

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening came, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a spirit," and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."  And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water." And He said, "Come." And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, "Lord, save me."  And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"  And when they came into the ship, the wind ceased.
Matthew 14:23-32



When we opened the email from the IRS in 2015 and found out our identity had been stolen, 
"contrary winds" began to blow in our lives, and the storm raged on for several months.
As we navigated through that troubled, difficult season, I can't say that we immediately recognized it was Jesus Who walked into the midst of our storm.
In all honesty, we felt God-forsaken and violated.
Our minds were full of questions and wondering why He would allow such a thing.

Before the turbulence began, we felt pretty stable.
Our house and land and possessions created a sense of security for us,
and we relied heavily upon credit to finance and provide that stability.
In other words, when the storm came up, we were inside "the boat," living the "American Dream."

Then the storm hit, out of nowhere, striking terror in our hearts and jeopardizing our safety nets.
At some point, through the clashing of the waves, we spotted Him.
We came to the realization that it was He Who allowed the storm in the first place,
and not only did He permit the trial, He orchestrated it.
As blind-sided as we were, it did not in any way catch Him by surprise,
and it was the only way He could wake us up to reality and get our eyes open.

When the truth began to dawn on us, we felt the same need for affirmation that Peter did,
and so many times, we sought the Lord earnestly in prayer, begging Him to make it clear to us that it really was Him, that His presence was still with us, and that it was His hand in control of the storm.
Looking back, it felt a lot like Peter asking,
"Lord, if it really is You, bid me come to You on the water."

Since that original call from Jesus to get out of the boat and come toward Him,
He has bid us come deeper and farther out into the water time after time.
Tracing His hand and looking back in retrospect, it reminds me of the passage in Ezekiel 47:3-5,
"And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles.  Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.  Afterward, he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over."

One safety net at a time, He has asked us to relinquish our sense of "control".
One by one, He has required us to cut shorelines and give up the very things we used to cling to so tightly for security.
Ankle-deep, then knee-deep, then waist-deep, then —suddenly, we can no longer touch bottom,
and we find ourselves in "waters to swim in."
We are way over our heads and far deeper into this thing called "trusting God and living by faith" than we have ever been.

I used to read this story and feel so frustrated as I thought of how Jesus was standing right in front of Peter, and yet, he still felt such fear.
I could not understand why Peter had such little faith when his faith was accompanied by sight.
After going through this long-lasting, hard trial, I have a whole lot more empathy for Peter,
because we haven't reacted any differently than he did all along the way.
I realize now that Peter was fine until he took his eyes off Jesus.
Once he began looking around and the reality of what he had done washed over him,
full-blown panic set in, and he forgot Who it was that called him out on the water in the first place.

Our current situation is completely opposite what the world around us dictates.
It makes no "human reasoning" sense to attempt to "walk on water" and to have no other reason for doing so other than reckless abandon obedience to the call of God.
We are in a very unconventional place on so many levels, and it is when we focus on this that we start to overreact and feel ourselves going under.
As long as keep our eyes on Jesus and His power to rise above the water and walk on it as if it were solid ground, we feel a sense of peace.

I look back over the past three years, and my heart is grateful for the trial.
Had it not been for God sending the wake-up alarm, we would still be living a life of underlying misery.
We would never have dealt with the spiritual root issues that caused us to become so indebted, overladen with excess, and self-reliant.

Jesus is out here...in the deep.
We are finding Him to be all we need.
We are proving His faithfulness.
Though we don't know how to "swim", we feel a deep-seated peace and assurance knowing that
"the eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Deuteronomy 33:27

If you would like to read more about the spiritual lessons He has taught and is still teaching us, 
please visit us at our new blog, Biblical Minimalism.
I would love to have you follow along!

Dear, sweet friend and fellow-blogger Debby reminded me of this song in a comment a few blog posts back, and oh, my, it really, really expresses our current journey and situation.
I have gained a whole new appreciation for the words to this song.


Oceans ~ Hillsong United

Will you dare to climb out of your "boat" at Jesus' command?
Are you willing to follow Him to where it no longer feels safe?
How much do you trust Him?

18 comments:

  1. Dear Cheryl - your willingness to share your personal journey with your readers is very much appreciated. Finding the perfect place for our lives and the way Jesus wants us to live is a struggle that I am sure we all face. Your posts open my heart to realize I am not alone in my struggles either.

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    1. Thank you, my dear friend. You are such a faithful encourager to me on this journey to follow Jesus. I am so thankful for your visit and kind words! God bless you!

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  2. Oh, Dear Cheryl, I didn't realize the timing of the beginning of your identity theft trial until now. December 2014 was when I first received the diagnosis of my chronic illness. And early 2015 was my time to face the fear of where He was calling me. But the Lord had given me this song that you shared here, at a beautiful baby shower for my daughter during that same December. How good of the Lord to let us know that He is the one calling to us from within the trial. Thank you dear friend for sharing your heart. I am so thankful that you have answered His call, and share your story with us here. Blessings and Love to you!

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    1. Oh, my, can you believe that? God's timing is so amazing. I am not sure if you and I had even met, at that point, but to think all He has brought us through and how He intersected our lives the way He did is just amazing to me. Reading your words also made me think of the Scripture that talks about how God takes us from "faith to faith." I am so thankful for you and your precious presence in my life. May the dear Lord continue to lead us and guide us through this journey.

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  3. Struggles. We all have them don’t we? It can be so hard to understand, especially when you try to live you’re life for Him daily. Thank you once again for your heartfelt words of encouragement. You are such a blessing to me.
    Blessings,
    Betys

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    1. Oh, yes, dear friend, we surely do. It is often far after the trial is over before we realize the meaning of it all. Someday, we will understand it all, or maybe when we get there and bow at Jesus' feet, it won't even matter, you know? All of this will seem as nothing. You are such a dear blessing to me, too. I am praying for you and sending hugs!

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  4. I know you felt so violated when your identity was stolen, Cheryl. I'm so glad that you can look back and see that is was all in God's Divine Plan, and that you are better for it. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, as always. Love and Blessings to you.
    p.s. I'm enjoying the song as I write!

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    1. Yes, dear friend, how I praise God for the trial. It has served so many Divine purposes in our lives, and we praise Him for His faithfulness. He loves all of us too much to let any of us remain where we are not supposed to be. Love and blessings back to you, too! I am praying for you.

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  5. Oh my goodness, Cheryl! First, I didn't realize you had gone through this. Perhaps you told me and, my mind being as it is, I forgot. That sounds like a horrible situation. I can so relate to this post, though. Trying to trust the Lord as He asks us to walk a journey we hadn't planned on.

    As always, I love how you share from God's point of view. There is such comfort in His point of view. I am always encouraged and inspired by your words. I will definitely head over to your other blog and check things out there, too.

    Thank you for sharing this on my linkup! I know it will bless others as it has me!

    Blessings - Julie

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    1. Oh, dear friend! It was truly horrible, but, oh, so necessary for us! Yes, you surely can relate to all that is written here, and you have been through such fiery trials. Oh, how I praise God for helping you thus far, and I know He is going to continue to see you through. You are so right...there is such great comfort in God's point of view. Oh, He just becomes more precious to our souls as we draw nearer to Him, doesn't He? Thank you SO much for your faithful support and for following and for the precious friend you are to me. I will answer your email as soon as I can. Sending much love and gratitude to you today!

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  6. Precious post dear Cheryl. We had a sermon recently on getting out of the boat. Whoa! For me, it was all about trust issues. I love that song. When on a mission trip in Nicaragua we sang that song. They sang in Spanish and then we sang in English. It was amazing to me at how no matter the language it was sang in, the meaning was the same and we were in all one accord. ONLY God can do that for us. But here's what left me with staggering thoughts on that song. One of the ladies there in Nicaragua questioned us all to really think about the words of that song. She went on to tell the story that she had learned to be careful for what she prayed for but also what she sang. She gave the sweetest testimony on the Lord taking her deeper than her feet could ever wander and how at many times, her strength had been deepened. Have a great day dear Cheryl. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

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    1. Oh, wow, I would have loved to have heard that sermon and the lady's testimony, too! You know, I had heard that song and loved it from the beginning, but I think it becomes more real as God calls us deeper. The lady is so right in all she said. I am so thankful for your sweet visit and kind words...you always bless me and add so much encouragement by your comments. Sending much love and many blessings to you, too!

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  7. Hi Cheryl! Thank you for sharing your story and struggle with us. It has so much to teach us about relying in Jesus when life gets hard. I always love this story of Peter and how he began to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus. But what really sticks out to me is that Jesus immediately reached out His hand to rescue Peter. It gives me so much comfort to know that Jesus will do the same for us when we take our eyes off of Him. Saying a prayer for you today. Be blessed!

    Visiting you from Coffee for your heart linkup.

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    1. Thank you so much, dear Connie! I am so grateful for your visit, kind words, and prayers. May the Lord bless you, too!

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  8. Hi Cheryl,

    Your Scriptural references applied to what God has been teaching you and your family opened my eyes to them in a whole new light. Your obedience and humility is such a wonderful testimony that brings Glory and Honor to our Lord and Saviour.

    Thank you so much for sharing what God is teaching you in a way that is not preachy, but from a place of humbleness and pure devotion to Jesus.

    Sending you much love and gratitude. May the Lord bless your obedience a hundredfold.

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    1. Oh, thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement, sweet friend! I SO appreciate it. You are such a blessing to me, and I am most grateful for your friendship and prayers. May the Lord bless you in a big way!

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  9. It truly is amazing how the most difficult situations God allows always turns out to be the time of gaining wisdom.

    Sorry for your trip through the valley, but so glad you have that wisdom from experience to share as part of your ministry.

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    1. Thank you so much, brother. I so appreciate your prayers and support. God bless you!

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