Did you see the movie The Shack? Wow, it was amazing! If given the opportunity, you really should see it. I read the book many years ago. After seeing the movie, I decided to re-read the book. I am on page 176 and this is what it says, ”... Thankfully, when he took his next step, instead of going deeper he rose up a little, and with each succeeding stride he came up even more until he was on top of the water once again. Jesus joined him and they both continued walking toward the shack.
‘This always works better when we do it together, don’t you think?’ Jesus asked, smiling.”
The ‘he’ referred to above is Mack. Mack once walked on water with Jesus. Him and Jesus walked together to where Mack is now. It is time to return to where they came from but Mack is having difficulty walking on the water again. He stepped in the water to commence walking but the water, surprisingly, was up to his ankles. He could not quite figure this out. After all, Mack walked to his current location alongside Jesus via the water. Now, however, instead of the water receding, it only continued to consume him. Mack is baffled and cannot comprehend what is going on. First the water came to his mid calf and then just below his knees. His feet were still planted on the lake bottom. Mack could not figure out what was happening and why?
Reading further down on page 176 it states, “He looked back to see Jesus standing on the shore with his arms folded across his chest, watching him.
Mack turned and looked toward the opposite shore. He wasn’t sure why it wasn’t working this time, but he was determined to press on. Jesus was there, so he had nothing to worry about. The prospect of a long and cold swim was not too thrilling, but Mack was sure he could make it across if he had to.”
Do you see what happened here? Mack could not walk on water as he did the first time because he was trying to do it on his own, without Jesus. Each time Mack made an effort to press on in his own strength, he only managed to sink further into the water. Each step without Jesus only took Mack deeper in over his head. It was not until Mack looked back to acknowledge he needed Jesus that he was able to again walk on water. Looking at Jesus gave Mack the ability ... small step by small step ... to rise above the water until he was finally walking on water again.
Does this sound familiar? If you have any Bible knowledge, then I am sure you are thinking of Peter about now. In Matthew 14 you can read of the time that Peter was ushered out of the boat by Jesus and commanded to walk on the water. Up until Peter was summoned by Jesus, he was enduring a storm in his life. The boat Peter was in at the time was in the middle of the sea being tossed by the waves. It appeared to be a hopeless situation to Peter and the others in the boat with him. Peter heard Jesus calling to him. Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and he wanted to walk on the water too. Jesus simply said, “Come!” Jesus reassured Peter by identifying Himself and advising Peter not to be afraid.
Lo and behold, Peter walked on water. He placed all of his faith in Jesus. By doing so, Peter rose above the storm he was in the midst of and he walked on water. Peter found peace and strength to overcome ... to step out of his storm. Peter trusted Jesus. By doing so, he overcame. However, as with us, Peter only kept his eyes on Jesus for a short period of time. As is a fact, once Peter diverted his eyes in another direction ... a direction opposite to Jesus ... he began to sink once again.
Isn’t this what we do? We are in storms ... we cry out for Jesus ... Jesus delivers us ... then we return to doing it ‘our’ way. Not long after having our way, we find ourselves once again sinking. We do this repeatedly in life. Why?! Why do we think we can do it in our own power when we have never been successful? Sure it may seem as if life is going well and we have been doing it alone, but if you are honest, then you know it will not continue to go well. Then there is the old adage that if life is not giving us storms, then maybe we have a bigger problem than any storm we could ever face. If we are not being tested then maybe it is because we are not a threat and we are not heading in Jesus’ direction at all. I do not know about you but this concept scares the life out of me. I would rather have storms with Jesus then peace without Him! "Peace" is a stretch as I do not believe you ever have true peace without Jesus. You may think you have peace ... you may feel you are content, but if you are truly honest with oneself, I think you would agree you do not have peace or true contentment!
As I was reading The Shack this morning, it all came clear to me once again ... for the millionth time! Any storm I am facing in life now will never end as long as I keep trying to push through in my own power. We will always sink if our eyes are on the storm and not on Jesus. It is plain and simple.
Jesus knew and continues to know exactly how we feel. There is not a storm in life that Jesus does not understand. You can never suffer a loss that Jesus has not felt the pain. Jesus had storms. He waivered in strength. He was in such turmoil at the thought of what He had to endure that He cried tears of blood. He cried out to God! In Matthew 26:39 it says, ” ... O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Does this sound like someone who did not suffer?
What storms are you facing today ... bad marriage ... impossible working conditions ... no employment ... wayward child ... strained relationships ... lack of support from those you felt you could lean on ... addictions whether to food, porn, people, or drugs!
Feel betrayed? I do! I am feeling betrayed daily by ones who I thought cared ... ones who I thought loved me ... ones who I thought would support me whether right or wrong. Guess what? This is not always the case and it hurts! The pain is unbearable at times, but it is what it is! Then I am forced daily to remember that I have betrayed people too! I realize when we are the ones being betrayed we seem to forget how we have done the same to others. Jesus was betrayed. The only difference is Jesus never betrayed anyone! Despite His perfection, He suffered the ultimate betrayal. Someone He trusted ... someone He choose to walk alongside Him ... someone He would have died for betrayed Him.
Feel unloved? I do at times. I am sure Jesus understands this feeling more than we think even though He was loved greatly by the Father, just as we are loved greatly!
Loss a loved one? Jesus loss many during His time on earth. More significant, He gave His very life for us so that we could have comfort during our losses in life.
Feel let down by family ... by friends ... by church family ... by co-workers? Yep, been there ... done that! I am learning daily that people are truly in our lives for a reason ... for a season ... or for a lifetime. When the season is over, as hard as it is to let go, we must. As long as we hold on to what is over, we can never experience the ‘new’ that Jesus has for us. Jesus was let down by His very own. He had to leave His hometown because He was let down by all!
This could go on forever but I think you get the jest of things by now! Jesus has our back, People! No matter what storm you are going through at this stage in life, if you will keep your eyes on Him, you will rise above it and see the sun shining. Do not beat yourself up if you find yourself sinking yet again, knowing all the times Jesus brought you out in the past. We all do it. Heck, I am just rising out of the waters yet again for the hundredth time. He understands. He forgives us for doubting Him. Let go and let Him.
We will go through storms in life whether we walk with Jesus or not. We live in a fallen world and we have a sinful nature. It is inevitable. However, how long you stay in that storm is up to you? Eyes on Jesus and allow Him to bring you through OR rely on self and make a real mess of things ... remain in the storm ... never rise above. It is our choice. Today I choose ... once again ... to focus on Him and rise above. Please, won’t you join me!
Remember that with each small step you make towards Jesus, you will slowly rise above. It said that “instead of going deeper he rose up a little, and with each succeeding stride he came up even more until he was on top of the water once again.”
Let's rise above together ... I love you all!