Tag Archives: storm

Overcoming Obstacles

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

I haven’t written very much over the last couple of months due to a “perfect storm” of events in my life.  I’ve been hired permanently at my part-time retail job, and I work there four nights a week in addition to my regular full-time job.  This second job has been a blessing to me in many ways, but I’m not as young as I used to be, and I’m definitely feeling the effects of 60 hour work weeks every week.  I’ve also encountered some serious personal issues – some obstacles in my life – which have required a lot of time and attention from me.

Through all of this, the Lord has been working!  He has been shifting things in my heart that needed to be shifted.  He is using all of it to put my focus where it needs to be, which is squarely and unwaveringly on Him.

If you’ve read my faith story (you can see it here), you know that I gave my life to Christ somewhat later in life than many people.  I was 36 when I finally admitted that I needed Him, surrendered everything to Him and invited Him to be my Lord and Savior.  By that time, I had sustained many key losses in my life, and I blamed God for them.  Before I gave my life to Him, Jesus showed me that He had actually been protecting me during some of those key times and that He wept with me at other times, and that broke me free of that nasty old habit of blaming God.  However, I have found that some of that tendency to blame God when things don’t go “right” has left its residue in my heart.  It is sort of like a nasty soap-scum ring in a bathtub.

It was well past time to clean up that mess.

An obstacle in my life suddenly increased its intensity in a big way last fall.  I remembered what I have learned from a good friend who has a strong faith about keeping my eyes on Jesus in the midst of a storm (you can read about that here) but I couldn’t help but notice that old residue in my heart.  I broke out the scrub brush and the cleanser and got to work with His help.

The first thing I did was to lean into Jesus and His Word during the difficult time that I faced.  That’s the crucial step.  He is using my circumstances to draw me closer to Him than ever before, for which I am grateful.

The second thing I did was to lean into a pastor, Christian friends and a Christian counselor who have long, strong walks with the Lord.  Their prayers and encouragement have been so life-giving!  Being in community is key.

The third thing I did was to start reading.  There are three books that I found to be of huge value, and I’d like to share those with you here in the hope that you may also find them encouraging if you’re facing obstacles in your life.  They are:

  • Shaken by Tim Tebow
  • Hope in the Dark by Craig Groeschel
  • It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst

No, I’m not compensated in any way for sharing my book recommendations.  They’re just three books that helped me dramatically to repair this part of my foundation in Christ.  It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way helped me in my particular situation the most, I would say, but I learned a lot from all three books.

I’m not big or strong enough to overcome these obstacles in my life by myself.  However, I have peace and I have hope because Jesus has overcome the world for me and I have VICTORY through Him.  All thanks be to God!

Do you need peace and hope in the midst of battling to overcome obstacles in your life?  If so, please feel free to comment below or to message me and I’ll be glad to pray for you and with you.  You don’t have to do this alone.  Blessings to you!

 

 

 

 

Walking on Water

There is a story from Jesus’s life that is so remarkable that it is recorded in three of the Gospel accounts. Matthew, Mark and John all tell the story of how, after feeding the 5,000, Jesus sent the disciples ahead of him to Bethsaida by crossing the Sea of Galilee. Jesus came to them much later after spending some time in solitary prayer by walking on the water. Only one of the Gospels, that of Matthew, records the story of Peter being called out onto the water by Jesus. That story says:

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31)

To set the scene, bear in mind that this was not a peaceful lake; the winds had likely whipped the waves to a height of around three feet. It was still night, so they were in the dark. The disciples were all scared because of the storm that had arisen, and had been frightened even more by seeing Jesus walking to them on the water.

Peter doesn’t wait for Jesus to get in the boat with him. Instead he says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter isn’t trying to show off for the other disciples and he isn’t trying to experience a cool parlor trick; he just wants to get to Jesus as quickly as possible in the middle of the storm. He shows remarkable courage and a strength of faith as he takes the risky step of getting out of the boat and trusts Jesus to keep him safe in the storm. He believes that Jesus can do the impossible by helping him to walk to Jesus on the water. He is rewarded for his faith by taking some steps across the water towards Jesus.

However, Peter’s faith wasn’t yet fully developed and he became afraid. He started looking at the wind and the waves. I would imagine that he started to consider the impossibility of walking on water. As a result, he begins to sink. Even while sinking, however, he knew to cry out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” Jesus indeed reaches out and catches Peter – and He does it immediately. He doesn’t wait for Peter to sink below the waves to teach him a lesson or to make the rescue look more dramatic, but out of His great love, He reaches immediately for Peter.

After catching Peter, Jesus gives him a rebuke: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” I believe that Jesus said this tenderly, not sharply. I think it’s as if He were saying, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you?” (Galatians 5:7) The question is designed to help Peter see his weakness and to realize his complete dependence on God.

I’ve had my share of storms, and I believe that we are to navigate storms the way that Peter did – by fixing our eyes on Jesus and walking on the water. Here are five key things I’ve learned on this journey:

  • The first thing I’ve learned is that when a storm arises, I have to anticipate the enemy’s attack. I have found in my walk that, like the disciples, sometimes I can be doing exactly what Jesus said to do, and the next thing I know, a storm has arisen. It may come out of nowhere, with no advance warning to prepare me for it. It is at that very moment that the enemy will come and sow seeds of doubt: Did I not hear Him correctly? Did I step off the path? Why is this happening to me? These doubts grow in the darkness if I don’t go immediately to God. They weaken my faith. I begin to sink in the storm.
  • I’ve learned that I have to go straight to Jesus with my questions and doubts. If I go straight to Jesus with my fears and the seeds of doubt, He can strengthen my faith and uproot the doubts before they take hold in my heart. He can remind me that He is with me always (Matthew 28:20). He can show me that the storm is part of His plan, designed to test and strengthen my faith so that I’ll be ready for the next test, the next step in His plan (James 1:3).
  • I’ve learned to reach out to trusted friends at the first sign of a storm.  I get to Jesus through solitary prayer, but my friends walk with me through the storm and lift me up in prayer. It is often the perspective of someone who has been through a similar circumstance that helps me to see the bigger picture of what God is doing in my situation. My friends help me to keep my eyes on Jesus, not on the circumstance.
  • I’ve learned that I have to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. To fix my eyes means to direct my eyes, attention and mind steadily or unwaveringly toward Him. Worship and praise are key to navigating the storm. When I worship and praise God for who He is, there is no room for the enemy to sow seeds of doubt about God’s goodness. I also can’t focus on the wind and the waves if I’m looking at Him.
  • Praying for faith and courage is key when I’m hit by a sudden storm. Faith and courage will sustain me when I’m being buffeted by wind and waves. I remember that God has seen me through other storms before this one. I draw courage from the fact that He didn’t let me go under then, and He won’t let me go under now if I continue to call out to Him.

I am not saying that I have fully mastered this and that I have no difficulty navigating the storms in my life. That would be FAR from the truth! However, I’m learning. I hope that what I’ve learned so far may be useful to you as well. Please share your thoughts and ideas for how to navigate life’s storms in the comments.

If you’re in a storm now, take heart, friend – you are not alone. Message me and I will pray for you.