The Storms of Life

Often I think we forget that the “super heroes” of our faith (i.e. David, Peter, Paul, etc.) were just normal men that an extraordinary God transformed and used to change nations and the world. Sometimes I read Scripture and begin to compare myself to the men I read about there. Peter is one person I can relate to as he and I both share the special art of inserting our foot squarely in to our own mouths.

In the Scripture we see the disciples out on the Sea of Galilee crossing to the other side. The men in the boat, with several expert fishermen who spent their lives on this body of water, fighting and struggling against the wind and waves. During this struggle, the disciples are alarmed as they see what they think is a ghost walking on the water. The ghost turns out not be a ghost at all, it’s Jesus!

In the midst of the wind and waves, as the disciples were filled with fear at the unknown, Jesus calls out to them “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27) As Peter so often does, he makes a bold deceleration: “Lord, if it is you… tell me to come out on the water.” As Jesus often does, He tells Peter: “come”.

What happens next is miraculous. Peter (outside of Jesus) becomes the only man in history to walk on water. Imagine his heart beating intensely as he steps out of the boat on to the water. Imagine the exhilaration as he begins to walk towards Jesus. It is in the midst of the winds, waves, and fear that Jesus calls to Peter, and Peter comes. Sometimes I am quick to judge Peter because what happens next: But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me! (Matthew 14:30 NIV).

For just a moment in this incredible moment, Peter fails in his fear. It could have all ended here for Peter. He could have drown, he could have felt unsure of himself for the rest of his life, he could have tried to turn around and get back to the boat. But it is in this moment, as he desperately cries out “save me” that we see Jesus remain faithful. Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).

Here is the application in my own life: there are times where the winds, waves, and fear will come. In those moments I hear and see Jesus calling me through the storm. Sometimes I get distracted by the storm so much so that for a brief moment I take my eyes of Jesus and begin to sink in hopeless despair. Time and time again I cry out “Jesus, save me!” and the most amazing thing happens… He does.

Today I don’t know what storm you are facing, don’t give up hope. The same Peter who sank because of his fear for the wind and waves is the same Peter the Holy Spirit empowered to take the Gospel throughout the Roman empire. Today if you are “sinking”, cry out to Jesus… “Lord, save me!” and know that He alone truly can.

Taking Jesus at His Word

Tonight my oldest son and I were reading through the Book of John for devotion time. During tonight’s devotion as we read through chapter 4, a statement caught my attention: …The man took Jesus at his word and departed (John 4:50). Scripture has so much to say about faith.

In my mind, faith in the simplest terms is trusting God to do what He says He is going to do even when it seems impossible. There are several times throughout both the Old and New Testament where this type of trust has changed the course of lives (even nations). From moments like when Abraham believed that God would give him decedents as numerous as the stars and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6) to this moment where a desperate dad believed that Jesus would heal his son, and Jesus did.

I won’t spend time quoting Scripture after Scripture that talks about the importance of trusting that God will do what He says He will do. Tonight I want to focus on one key, life changing reminder: nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26).

No life is too far gone. No marriage is too broken to restore. No situation is too hopeless. No heart is too broken. No one is beyond God’s power to save, restore, and redeem: only take Jesus at His Word.

The Great Divide

This isn’t going to sound super spiritual, but I don’t always understand why God does or allows things to happen in my life or in the world. I’m sure some of you out there will feel exactly the same and even more of you will say “duh Daniel”. In the midst of my greatest trials and suffering, I can clearly look back and I know that it was the grace of God alone that allowed me to walk, or crawl, through them. But in my human nature, my natural response is to demand an answer from God. He doesn’t promise me one.

 

Scripture reminds us that God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). He knows the end from the beginning and it is God alone who knows all and uses all for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Even knowing that in my mind doesn’t not always translate in to being able to accept that in my heart. What I mean is this: even though I know the Scripture, in my human weakness I struggle to hold on to those promises.

 

I know there are some super spiritual warriors out there that will say “just believe”, but that’s exactly what I am struggling with today. I am thankful that the God I serve knows my doubts, fears, and failures and He chooses to love me anyway. My mind constantly turns back to 2 Corinthians 12:9 as I am reminded: the grace of Jesus is enough. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. Jesus is using me in my brokenness, and let there be no doubt… I am a broken man.

 

This morning my heart aches as I scream out in my mind… “you took my daughter…” and as He often does, God gently reminds me: “but I gave you my Son” (John 3:16). As my heart breaks missing my daughter, I know that God knows my pain. This morning I don’t know what struggle you’re going through, but I do know this: God knows. Not only does He know, but He cares. 

 

My greatest desire is to tell you that God loves you. In the midst of your deepest doubts and greatest suffering, He has not left your side. Through faith in Jesus, nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). Take all your questions, doubts, anger, hurt and suffering directly to the only One who can give you the peace and love you need to get through this storm. When we place our faith in Jesus, we become sons and daughters of God. Because of that, we can come directly to the throne of God in our deepest need and we will receive mercy and grace to help us endure. (Hebrews 4:16)

 

I’ll leave you with this thought, my heart may never fully heal in this world. The love and longing I have for my sweet Brynleigh is overpowering. But I promise you this: there will be a day where she and I will be reunited. In that place she and I will rest in the peace and love of the Father. In that place, free from death, sorrow, pain or hunger, she and I will worship the One who gave us our love to begin with (Revelation 21:14). Don’t give up if you are weary, wounded and broken… Jesus is calling to you: “come”. (Matthew 11:28)