Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Look at Me!

You're on a ship. It's been smooth sailing for a while and you've thoroughly enjoyed the voyage. Beautiful skies. Magnificent ocean. Lovely breeze. You decide to walk to the stern of the ship, but upon turning you see the skies behind you aren't looking so blue. You run for the helm, but quickly realize that the storm is traveling at a much faster speed than you. Before you have a chance to figure things out, the sky turns dark, the waves begin to crash all around you, and it takes every ounce of energy you have to control the wheel. You realize this monster is too much for you to try and ride, so you go for the one thing that's designed to keep you secure despite the turmoil going on all around you.

Whether you know much about ships, or only a teeny bit like me, you know the word "anchor" is getting ready to be used right about now. And, right you are. The very definition of the word is this: a device, normally made of metal, used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current. Pretty ingenious piece of equipment for seamen. There's no telling just how quickly and how horribly off track just 5 minutes in a terrible storm can get you.

Although calling a person, a goal, or a faith an anchor for your life is often viewed metaphorically, there's a lot of truth to it, also. We Christians reference Christ as our anchor on several occasions. There's even a Scripture that says it in such a pure and poetic way:

Hebrews 6:19- We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope...

I can testify to the fact that without this hope of Christ in my life, I'd be drifting way off somewhere alone, confused, and with no aimed destination. Life can get crazy stormy sometimes! And there's always going to be some wave that catches you off guard. But, that's why we always need to remember the very thing that can hold us steady.

I can't help but think of the story of Jesus walking on the water. He did, ya know. When his disciples saw Him, they were freaked out. They just knew He was a ghost. But, Peter had an unbelievable amount of faith. He said, "Lord, if that's really You, tell me to come out there to You." And... that's exactly what He did.

{Now, the majority of you reading this already know this story. And it's likely that you're going to the part where he starts sinking. But, hey! He stepped out of that boat and took a few steps! That's more than I've ever done... You?}

Anyways- Peter steps out. He takes a few steps. Eyes solely fixed on Jesus. No doubt his faith was soaring at that moment. Can you just imagine the smile on his face? There may have even been some tears welling up in his eyes. He was doing the impossible. He reaches up to wipe a tear, and realizes, this isn't from crying! This is from the sea. The waves were crashing all around him. ("Peter, look at Me.") Water is getting in his eyes! He can't see clearly. ("Peter, look at Me.") He can't hear well. The wind is going crazy. He brushes at his eyes but he feels himself sinking slowly into the water. ("Peter, look at Me.") Fear clutches on tightly and panic sets in. His arms start swinging and reaching for anything that he thinks may support him, but there's only water! ("Peter, look at Me!") I can't do this! He thinks. I'm going to die! There's no way out of this! Why am I here? I should have known better! 

("Peter! Look at Me!")

And- finally- Peter looked at Jesus. "Lord, save me!" he cried out.

Matthew 6:31- "And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him..."

That's exactly what He'll do for you and me, too. But... we have to look at Him! We can't let ourselves get focused on the winds and waves that are crashing on every side of us. You can't look back at your past and focus on hurts and disappointments. You can't look too far ahead and feel overwhelmed at the progress you're lacking. Don't look at all the bills, the sicknesses, the people who hurt you, the demands of the job, or the needs of your family... Look at Him!

I felt Him say that to me so clearly a little over a week ago. True story. I won't lie and say I'm always thrilled with the way my life goes. I was so tired of being sick, and still it lingered. I was still trying to figure out why everything happened the way it did with our sweet babies. There were so many unanswered questions that laid in front of me regarding those we love. I was letting the past creep into my mind and frustration was gripping on tight to me. I felt hopeless for a few days. My "prayer time" turned into "whine time" and I felt more and more isolated and annoyed.

Then, Wednesday on the way to church, I could sense those little whispers trying to interrupt the argument I had going on inside, "Kristi, look at Me." I wrestled with the decision to even go that night. I love my church and the people in it, but I felt so distant from myself... I knew I'd feel even more distant from them. "Kristi, look at Me." It just didn't feel fair. So many crazy and weird, unexplainable things have happened to us. Why?!?! "Kristi, look at Me." God, I just don't understand. I feel alone... unimportant... It's like there's no way for us to win. "Kristi! Look at Me!" We've tried this, done that, attempted those... We've tried to do our best, stay faithful, be wise stewards... We're kind and honest... We're available and willing... Why are we allowed to endure so much?!

"Kristi! Look at Me!"

I finally paid attention to that still, small voice. I shut my mind's mouth and listened for a change. "You're looking at people, situations, yourselves, your goals... Take some time to look at Me."

So I did. My sickness didn't look like much of a threat when I was looking at my Healer. My future goals didn't seem so unattainable when my eyes were fixed on the Author and Finisher of my faith. The fear of going another 20 years unable to bear children was quickly shrugged off when I was staring into the face of the Creator and Giver of life. My past? Ha! It became nothing more than shouting ground when I viewed my Deliverer! The people that consistently hurt me became a little less important when I remembered He was the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

I felt Him pulling me to a place of closeness I hadn't been in a little while. Just as certain, there was a piece of me longing for a relationship deeper than I'd ever had. My pastor says it all the time- "We too often walk outside of the realm of the blessing and power God has ready for us." I don't want to do that anymore. I'm ready to walk by faith... and I mean really walk by faith. No Plan B's or C's. It's past time to pick up the plan He wrote for my life and follow every step. No "and's, if's, or but's" about it.

To get there, I have to do more looking at Him. I need to amp up my prayer life. My devotions need to be more devoted. I have to be willing to put aside my plans for His purpose. That's truly the only way to feel completely happy and fulfilled, anyhow. Our youth pastor preached on Sunday morning about people who are determined to change the way their family has done things in the past for the better, aka "Transitional People." It was such a great message! One of the things he said that I needed to hear was,

"We have to quit trying so hard to define ourselves and accept the definition that God has for us."

That hit home with me, for sure. While I know God will use the talents and passions He's given me, I don't always understand how or when. Instead of focusing so long and hard on trying to "make it" or figure it all out, I need to rest in Him with the assurance that He will get me where I need to go and open up some crazy awesome doors. That's just what He does! So, instead of researching the best route for this or most successful path to that- I'm going to close my door, kneel beside my bed, and talk to the One Who sees the end from the beginning. That makes more sense after all.

I encourage you today- If you're feeling confused, bewildered, and lost without a sense of direction, take some time to look at Him- Who He is and what He's done- and what He's capable of. The stress of life fades when you understand that He's the one calling the shots for you... and there's no one who wants you to prosper more than He does. Trust Him. Relax. Enjoy the ride. There's really no reason to fear. He's looking at us, too... always. We're going to be okay!

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