The storm raged high, threatening to capsize the boat. Scared out of their minds, they cried out to God for mercy. Where was Jesus when they needed Him most? Surely He knew this storm was coming. Frightened, confused, and in great despair, they looked up and saw a ghost. The fear gripping their hearts froze the blood in their veins.
Knowing their terror, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. It is I and not a ghost.”
Peter said, “If it’s you, Lord, let me come to you on the water.”
Jesus said, “Come.”
With the storm still raging high, Peter stepped out. Keeping his eyes on Jesus, he walked and did not sink. Then, fear set in. Peter took his eyes off Christ and began to sink. Looking up, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Taking him by the hand, Jesus rescued him and walked him back to the boat.
I am Peter. I walk through the billows of life and am buffeted on every side. The wind of pride knocks me flat. I look to Jesus and He picks me up. Thunderous uncertainties and confusion deafen my ears. Jesus whispers peace and healing begins. Lightning strikes of fear pierce my heart. Jesus lays hold of my heart and heals me again. The billows of grief, pain, and suffering engulf me and I am drowning. Jesus reaches down, picks me up and carries me.
Is this God’s will for me…to live like a cork in the water, bobbing my way through life?
My church’s doctrinal statement starts out with this question, “What is the chief end of man?” It then answers, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The next question is, “How do I glorify and enjoy Him?” It answers, “By loving Him and doing what He commands.”
But, what does that mean? What does that look like in the midst of a storm-tossed life?
I’ve spent many hours, days, months…even years trying to find a satisfying answer. What is God’s will for my life and how can I fulfill it?
One Sunday while zoning in and out of my pastor’s sermon, he said something that snatched my attention:
“God’s will for you is to obey Him.”
Wow! What a simple, yet profound statement. It pierced my heart and peace flooded my soul. I realized that it’s not about a particular calling or occupation. It’s not a checklist of do’s and don’ts. The heart of the matter is an obedient heart.
Whether it’s submitting to a day of pain, keeping to a regimen of medicine, getting necessary rest, encouraging your child to trust God in the midst of illness, hugging a hurting friend, giving words of encouragement, or attending church when able – there are a gazillion ways to obey God. It’s taking things as they come…a day, a circumstance, a moment at a time and obeying Him in the midst of it.
Will we have frantic moments? Yes. We are frail humans.
Are we doomed if we cry out “why” and beg Him to remove our suffering? No. Though He submitted to the Father’s will and followed through, even Jesus cried out, asking God to remove the cup of the cross from Him.
Are we repulsive to God when it’s all we can do to just get through the next moment? No. God’s word encourages us to live day to day, moment by moment and to not worry about what tomorrow brings.
When we do falter and sin, we need to remember that there is abundantly more grace in Christ than there is sin in the world. We are to bathe ourselves in His grace.
We must not shut off our hearts from God. We must not quench the voice and comfort of the Holy Spirit. We must not try to wade through life on our own.
We need to let down our guard and be vulnerable with God. We are to follow Christ’s example, cry out to God for help, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak wisdom and comfort to our hearts. He may not take the storms away, but He will carry us through the midst of it.
Jesus said to take up our cross and follow Him. Follow where? Follow Him in obedience no matter what sea-tossed life God places us in.
Does that mean the ill should not seek medical help, the jobless refrain from job-searching, or the parents of a prodigal give up on their child returning? Absolutely not! God commands us to take care of our bodies, tells us that the idle man does not eat, and displays the loving patience of a father waiting for his prodigal to return.
It does mean that we submit each moment of our lives to God. We must trust Him to do what is best for us and watch in wonder as God makes everything beautiful in His time.
As I ponder God’s will for my life, I admit that I have to swallow a lot of pride, returning to Him again and again for forgiveness. Why? Because I don’t always want to submit to His will. Life hurts. It isn’t easy to live day to day not knowing if tomorrow will be a good day or a day when the waves come crashing in. I want to buck against the pain and sear my heart until I don’t hurt anymore. It’s tempting at times to walk away from God and never look back.
But, in my heart of hearts, I know that life without Jesus is worse than the most horrendous pain I’ve ever endured. The agony of not being able to feel is more torturous than pain itself. Life without Jesus is not life at all, but a living death – like Lyme disease, only unimaginably worse.
As part of God’s will for me, I open my heart to you so that I may share in your suffering. I want to help carry the load you bear. As a teenager, I was inspired by a song which says, “I want to spend my life mending broken people. I want to spend my whole life removing pain. Lord, let my life be a light that shines. I want to spend my whole life mending broken people.”
So, if opening up my heart can help carry even one hurting person through the storms of life, I praise God for using my feeble efforts. May He bless and keep you through every storm.
How has the Lord encouraged you in the storms of your life?