Matthew 14:27-29 (NLT)
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
I get it. I know the zealous emotion that caused this disciple to jump into the sea and follow Christ. I also understand why he sank when the wind and waves rose up. I have answered His Call upon the water, and I am well aware of just about the time my feet fail. As a young person, I wanted to live and work for the Lord for the rest of my life. The enemy made quick work sifting me like wheat thrusting me into years of spiritual dormancy. Grand expectations of writing books for the Lord, teaching others the way and leading multitudes to Christ became nothing more than trying to save myself after I wandered away. Those dead dreams buried in a life of responsibility and consequences. Peter had a destiny that demanded absolute dependency on Christ. Want to know a secret? Faith requires absolute dependency on Christ. We do not make or create or foster faith in our life. It is all Jesus. We simply learn to trust Him. Try to follow Him. We work at willing obedience but ultimately the only real hope we have is to develop a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. There is nothing that we can bring to Him not even our faith. The Lord produces faith in us. Testing it, refining it and cultivating it. The Spirit produces all the good fruit that we thrive on – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and even self-control. What does the Lord require? What is He after? What can I give Him? I want to “do” something for the Lord with this life.
There is a worship song called “On the Shores” by Bethel Music (Jonathon David and Melissa Helser) that I discovered just last night. I feel most days like I am just walking. Not sure where I am going or how all these details will ever come together to be the Goodness that My God has promised. I believe this is what faith and hope really look like. Less than glamourous but clearly worthwhile. The words flowed over my heart like water soothes our feet on the ocean’s shore. Not the rolling waves of an oncoming storm or those that draw us into deeper water, the kind you feel just walking along before sunset. The beach is clear of sun worshippers and a cool breeze rolls through. As the water moves the sand, tiny shells are revealed that you didn’t notice earlier. Birds run along dipping their beaks in the water in search of a snack. It is a quiet place of undoing. Our thoughts do not race in this place it is a time of rest and restoration. A moment to realize that not every moment is made to be intense. The lyrics of this song are simply this “On the shores of my soul I give You permission to wash my tears away and take all my disappointment [and] fill me with joy once again…”
In the midst of our undoing, God fills us with more of Him. This is not a violent ripping and tearing of our flesh to get to our spirit. We are His Children. He wants to mold us and prepare us to receive all that He has for us. But like a potter preparing the clay, the Lord wants us to be a vessel that can contain His Glory. In His Hand, our flesh is willing to surrender that which is not worthwhile to have all that we desire. But when we get caught up in the pursuit of faith as an acquisition rather than the gift that it is – I wonder if we fight for something that we already have. What is it that God desires today? Why is Jesus calling us from the shore? He simply wants to walk with us.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked.
There is no doubt in my mind that there are times that the Lord calls me out of the boat, or to charge deep into the ocean where my feet may fail but there are equally important times that I must learn to walk in. Those times when He calls out to me. “Where are you?” Well, I am walking on water or I am drowning in the ocean. I am “doing” something for you, Lord. Perhaps these are the times that I miss the real point of my faith. It is to live in close proximity and total dependency on the Lord. God was walking in the garden. He was looking for Adam and Eve because He wanted to talk to them, spend time with them, love on them, and simply be their God. But they decided that they could do better and wanted something other than this in the form of disobedience. Do not be deceived. Disobedience can look like a lot of innocent things. It can even look like good Christian service or fellowship which apart from Christ is useless endeavors. The people hid from God because they were afraid that their sin would be discovered. Bad news…He already knew. He knows us inside and out. The problem is we get caught up in doing to try to “do” something for the Lord that He will find worthy but what He really wants is for us to walk with Him. That’s really it. Just live in close companionship and fellowship that is only possible through righteousness. “I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.” (Leviticus 26:12) The greatest and most intense spiritual growth that we will ever experience is in the revelation that God loves us. He wants us. He desires us. He has done EVERYTHING to make this possible. I must only present myself to the Lord.
Psalm 119:2-3 (NLT)
Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.
Psalm 119:45 (NLT) I will walk in freedom for I have devoted myself to your commandments.
Where are you walking today? Our life has been a whirlwind the last few years. Our nest shaken as our son has battled cancer and others have grown up, married and moved out. My two youngest daughters (our babies) are somehow emerging into beautiful young women inside and out. Time is not slowing down. There are days that I cannot catch my breath in the aftermath of the storms we have endured and the changes we are going through. I forget that the Armor of God that I use for protection does not mean that I must live in battle and constantly fight the war. The refuge of God’s Presence is my dwelling place. It is where I am to live. It is the shelter from the attacks of the enemy as he relentlessly tries to destroy this faith that the Lord has given me. He wants it. It is detrimental to his kingdom. It will lead others astray into the Light of God’s Love encouraging them to leave darkness behind. Suddenly, my mind takes me to the shore. We have made it safely through but my soul is in turmoil. I hear the Voice of God calling me. He is asking me to walk with Him. Just be with Him today, rather than charging back out to fight the battle because He has already won the war. I will overcome by faith which means ignoring my fleshly desire to see change now and fully trust that He is making good on every promise without my help simply my willingness to walk with Him. I do not have to be bound up in fear, worry, stress and anxiety. I do not have to worry that there may be a storm brewing just over the horizon. Today may not be the day that I am required to jump out of the boat but it is an opportunity to choose life again. (Deuteronomy 30:15-16) I decide if I will walk in freedom. I choose to be restored and renewed in His Love by accepting His Righteousness as the gift that it is and deciding to walk in it His Way.
Psalm 143:8 (NLT)
Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
In our need to prove ourselves to God – we forget that we have nothing to prove. We cannot live a sinless life. The damage is already done. All we can do is take one step in the right direction – His Direction and then choose to take another by faith that His Righteousness is all that we need to be saved. I can do nothing to prove my love to the Lord other than walk with Him. That’s it. Anything good that I do is a product of His Spirit and His Love. I must trust that He has proven that His Grace is sufficient enough to love and trust the Lord every single day with every single breath as I give myself to Him. Lord, today show me where to walk. I want to live in step with You. I can do nothing apart from You, Lord. Thanks for the reminder. Less of me and more of You is what brings restoration and fulfillment to my life. I can do nothing but walk with You. That is what you desire most so it is a win for both of us!
Isaiah 43:2-3 (NLT)
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Thinking just a little bit deeper, let’s wade out up to our knees. Our life is predestined by the Lord. He knows each moment from the beginning to the end. Anyone who has been saved more than five minutes knows that the sky does not part and our life immediately change like some action film. Salvation is a process. Faith is a lifelong acquisition. The more of our life we invest in trusting the Lord than the more hope we acquire. Just when you think you have figured this Christianity thing out – we see that there is more to it than we could ever think to ask for. The details of our life are important to God and in no way imply that He has forgotten us, forsaken us, or is punishing us. In fact, He is making good out of every single detail of our life. (Romans 8:28) Wouldn’t that mean that nothing in our life is a waste of time and it is all worth giving to God? I mean really. What could we possibly do that is better than what He has for us? It all comes down to deciding what you really want in life. I have been through a lot. I have been put in a life or death situation that required me to make a choice. I chose the Lord. He has proven to be worthy. He has walked every step of this journey out with us. But that doesn’t mean that life necessarily gets any easier especially when I am deceived into thinking that anything I can do is better than what the Lord is doing for me. Even the quiet times are God’s Hand of Love and Compassion. He wants to walk this thing out with me. He has no intention of leaving. But maybe today it is my time to be strengthened and renewed. God knows my heart. He knows how close to breaking it may be. So He leads me to the shore. To walk. To talk. To encourage. To instruct. To lead. To love! “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Psalm 84:5-7 (NLT)
What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
Faith is not a sprint it’s a marathon. It is that thing that rises up in us when every fiber of our natural being says, “Quit” that tells us to keep going and we do. I don’t know where you are in your process or what you are facing in your life. Heck, I don’t know where I am in my process for that matter. But I know this, “I’m gently held by the Hand that could crush me…but I am not afraid because He loves me. So I will stay here because I am safe here. Yes, I will stay here.” The Lord is calling to our hearts today. He simply is asking to walk with us – through this minute, hour, and day. Jesus wants to walk with us through this week, month, year, and life. He wants us to have His Goodness and Unfailing Love as a factor in every outcome. Psalm 23 is a depiction of that as the Lord invites us to follow Him. He knows the way to victory, healing, blessing and prosperity. He made it. Who better to lead us? There overwhelming joy in trusting the Lord that makes sense out of the endless details of life even when nothing truly makes sense at all. I don’t get it, but I have peace like a river because today rather than doing anything for Him – I will simply walk with Him and let Him undo me instead. The Lord is not calling me out on the water today to test my faith. He is not asking me to go deeper. He is simply inviting me to walk along the shore of life with Him today. Jesus wants to be with me. He wants to talk with me. He wants to tell me how much He loves me as I do tell Him how very much I love Him. He is strengthening me for the days that lie ahead. Whatever they may be – faith and confident hope will see me through. Trust is established on such dependency on the Lord that even in the darkest day or most violent storm we can find peace, joy and comfort by simply walking in His Love!
Psalm 107:28-31 (NLT)
“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.