Monday, April 15, 2013

A Picture to Drown In

But when he saw the wind…….he began to sink
Matthew 14:30

A Picture to Drown IN?

Recently, I read the story of Charles Templeton.  Templeton was a close companion and teaching partner with Billy Graham in the 1940s.  He was even thought by some to have the potential to eclipse Graham as an evangelist (The Case for Faith pg 8).  After a night of hard drinking, Templeton found himself answering a call from his Savior on his knees in his hotel room.  Up all night and exhausted, he found peace in Christ.  A few fishermen once had a very similar early morning experience when they had been up all night fishing and heard the call of their Savior.  Like Peter James and John, Templeton was called to more than simply living life for himself.   He was called to bring others into the peace of Christ. Templeton quit the newspaper where he worked as a sports journalist and started a church which quickly had more than 1,200 seats filled each Sunday.  God was working powerfully through Templeton.  He was a pastor of a huge church in Toronto, Canada, where he hosted a Christian TV show on CBS once a week, and was traveling with Billy Graham on crusades across England, Scotland, and Europe.  But then, in the midst of the boat ride, Templeton saw the wind, and he began to sink.

In the book of Matthew we read the story of Peter walking on water towards Jesus.  The disciples are in the boat trying to cross the Sea of Galilee to get to where Jesus has instructed them to go.  On the fourth watch of the night, somewhere between 3 and 6 a.m, he disciples see a ghost walking towards their boat.  They are terrified until they realize it’s Jesus walking on water towards their boat.  I imagine they are then rubbing their eyes and afraid in a new sense of awe.  Jesus immediately gives them peace, saying, “Take heart, It’s me.  Don’t be afraid.”  Peter, asks a bold question.  “If it is really you, tell me to come to you and let me walk on water with you.” Peter steps out of that boat slowly, but surely.  He keeps his eyes on Jesus as his feet defy all of his rational thought, and walks firmly on water.  The Bible says that Peter came to Jesus, but then something happens that changes everything.  He sees the wind. 

Peter has walked on water, he has WALKED on water, but even more than that, he has “walked on the water and has come to JESUS”.  But then, he sees the wind.   Everything that has just happened is blown from his mind, and consumed by the wind. The wind, a natural force of the world that he has known his entire life, that he has felt with his hands, that has blown his fishing boat through the waters, that has ruffled his hair and refreshed his skin on a hot day.  The wind, which is what his world would call reality, comes crashing in and awakes his rational thought again.  We can almost hear how his mind might work, when he feels the wind and remembers a reality of nature, “I can’t walk on water.   This is impossible…….all of my life I have known you cannot  walk on water….what am I doing…why did I believe that I could walk on water?”   Once he saw the wind, he began to sink.  

Charles Templeton also saw the wind.  The Lord was doing mighty things through Templeton.  Templeton was on the spiritual Sea of Galilee and the Lord had called him out to walk with him, to come with him and defy the rational thought of the world.  He said that one day he was looking in Time Magazine and saw a picture of an African woman holding her dead baby in her hands.  The baby died because of a terrible drought that was causing massive famine in Africa.  Templeton said he looked at that picture and he thought, “Is it possible to believe that there is a loving or caring Creator when all this woman needed was rain?” (The Case for Faith)  That  picture was his wind.  Templeton started sinking. He felt the wind of doubt and never reached out for the hand of Christ to pull him back up and into the boat. 

It sounds sadly simple.  Doubt.  Doubt that blows in and changes our direction.  It distracts, destroys, and drowns us.  How did one picture drown a man?   Because the enemy knew exactly what doubt Templeton carried deep within him. 

We all carry some kind of doubt.  Recently, a friend of mine lost her young son to a brain tumor.  So many people had been praying that this child would be healed.  I had spent many mornings asking the Lord to hear our cries and heal this innocent, sweet child.  But he went to sleep four days ago, and never woke up.   I was amazed and in complete awe at his mother’s response.  On the day her sweet baby boy left this world and went to be with the Lord, Julie posted on FB,

Today was a good day, truly it was, in all ways. Sad, yes, but still good. After the fierce storm that raged yesterday, today was glorious. Though weeping and mourning may last for a night, joy comes in the morning. Come to Me, you weary ones and I will give you”

When the wind of this world was like a “fierce storm that raged,” this mother kept her eyes on Jesus and walked through the fire on water and did not sink.  I have to admit that after I read that Caleb had passed away, I thought, “Why didn’t the Lord heal him?  Do I really believe that the Lord hears our prayers?”  It was a moment of doubt.  I felt the wind and I was tempted to look at it, but the Lord is gracious and kept me steady.  He kept my eyes focused on Him. 

When Peter starts to sink, Jesus says something that breaks my heart to read.  I can hear the pain of his heart when he says, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  I don’t here a rebuke, I hear His honest pain coming from his heart.  Jesus has been with Peter, teaching him, protecting him, providing for him, strengthening him, and will soon die for him, but Peter still doesn’t trust HIM.  But what does Jesus do?  He immediately reached out his hand and took HOLD of him”.  Jesus reached out when Peter’s faith failed him, and took hold of him, until Peter was strong enough to walk on water again.    

Doubt will come into your life.  It comes into mine.  Don’t hide it; don’t bury it down inside of you.  Bring it to Christ.  Even though you feel the wind of doubt on your cheek, ruffling your hair, keep your eyes on Jesus.  He will take HOLD of you, and return you safely to the boat. 

Once Peter got to the boat, the Bible says something amazing happened.  The wind STOPPED.  Doubt does not have to drown you.  Give it to the Lord, honestly tell him of the wind you are feeling. The wind of this world, that can bear down, burn your face and make it hard to stand up straight as you walk on water.   Allow him to take hold of you and then the wind will stop.  The choice is here in these two men, either sink and ultimately drown, because the doubt consumes you like it did for Templeton.  Or like Peter, grab hold of the Savior who stands willing and waiting to pull you up from the depths of your doubts that wash over you like waves.  But be prepared for the miraculous because that is why He has called us! 

Do not drown in the doubt, but walk on the water with His truth and peace. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Trusting God with my Babies

Yesterday I had a conversation with a good friend that I completely, “got”.  She was talking about the fear of taking her oldest child to start school outside of their home.  She has been homeschooling and is really torn about continuing at home, or letting her son start school.  Once we got down to it, her fear is not what you think of when you weigh the pro’s and con’s of homeschooling vs public/private schools.  The issue at hand is trust.  Trusting that the Lord will protect her son when he is out of her hands.  Not what you thought?  Me neither.  But I sooo get this struggle.  I have my personal corner table in this struggle room. 

When I had children I started to really wrastle with the Lord (yes, Im southern so we wrastle down here) with this very question.  He kept asking me, “Do you trust me with them?”  I skirted around this issue, answered some really nice Sunday school answer and moved on.  But, as my family continued to grow and more children were added I heard the question more and more frequently, “Do you trust Me?”  I finally had to answer.  Good thing I was answering in the privacy of my very own Jesus/Julia coffee shop that we have created at my kitchen table because if I had been anywhere else I might have answered it much, much nicer.  There it was, the thing that I had kept in my heart, the truthful, ugly, yuckiness that is me. 

“No.  I don’t trust that Your good is the same as my good for my children.  I don’t trust that You will keep them from harm, from hurting, from suffering.  I don’t trust that you will not allow bad things to happen for Your ultimate will.  So, my answer is No, no, no”.

He did not throw my coffee cup at my head, or walk away with his hands up in the air muttering frustration underneath his breath, he didn’t even give a look of shock and surprise at my overly blunt and ugly answer.   He spoke these simple words. 

 “Whoever preserves his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it”.  Luke 17:33

There it was.  The answer that I had feared so much, the whole reason I did not want to have this conversation in the first place.  I feared the truth that I knew would come.  But when He showed this verse to me, in his scripture it did not bring the fear that I had anticipated, it brought peace.  Peace because the answer is so simple and yet empoweringly fierce with the reality of truth. 

He will not promise me that my children will never hurt, never suffer, never lack for food or water, never face the hard reality that this world is a broken, shell of what it was meant to be in the beginning of time.  My children will walk this hard road because we are not home yet, we are not at the end of the race, we are in the dead-heat of running with perseverance of allowing suffering to produce endurance and endurance character and character hope.  And it is in the race, that they will find life.  I cannot preserve them from this world, I cannot lay my body over them and protect them from the world (oh how I would if I could), but I can trust that losing this life, handing it over to the Lord will preserve it.  How much more do I want them to know the Lord than I want them to be just….safe.  Safe.  It no longer holds the same value it once did.  

Hannah could not keep Samuel safe, she had to trust that the Lord would raise him.  Jochebed could not protect Moses with her own two hands, Elizabeth could not protect John the Baptist from death, Mary could not hang on the cross for her son either.  Jesus had to walk it and Mary had to let him. 

We have to allow our children to walk with the Lord, and trust that He has an ultimate plan for good not to harm for our children.  If we don’t allow them to walk and fall with Him, then we are standing in the way of their relationship with the Lord. 

So I give my children back to Him, because they have always been His….I just got overly possessive.  Knowing that they will have to lose their lives in order to preserve them.