If I was one of the disciples who followed Jesus while he walked on this planet, I would have been one he looked at and said, “Oh ye of little faith. Why do you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31, 6:30, 8:26, 16:8, 17:20).
My faith-relationship with this Jesus I’ve never seen but love (1 Peter 1:8), is overwhelmingly more held together by Jesus than it is by me. In fact, it’s totally held together by Jesus. If he let go, I would fall deep into the waters of unbelief and drown.
But he has me. Me of little faith. He has me like he had Peter. And like Peter I look at this Jesus in the Bible, out there walking on the stormy waters of my life, in total control, bringing me peace in the midst of my turmoil, building up our relationship by increasing my trust in him, and I get a rush of faith. I believe him. I know that I know that I know that he’s got this. I trust him so much in those moments that I ask him to let me walk out there with him, in the miraculous place of not be ruled by my circumstances.
He smiles. Glad I asked. Says, “Come out here daughter!”
I climb out of my safe little boat- sleeping in, to-do lists, schedules, meal plans, exercise routines, Bible devos…all the things I do to try and keep some order and safety in the midst of the troubling waters that threaten to destroy. Those dark waves of depression, hard marriage, challenging teenagers, pressures from outside and pressures from within engulf me. All the time. And it’s good to have a boat to keep those things from ruining. But it’s even better to walk where Jesus is, with all that threatens under his feet.
I start making my way to Jesus. I choose prayer over a little extra sleep. I choose meditations on scripture before I plow into my to-do list. I choose words of life over criticism and jabs when I feel hurt. But most days, just a few seconds into those steps of faith I realize, “I’m walking on water! I’m trusting in someone I have no control over!” And I start to doubt. “He might let me sink! I can’t handle all these hopeless attacks that come with depression. I can’t make my husband love Jesus with me. I can’t make my sons want to follow Jesus for themselves. I can’t handle all these pressures in life…. I can’t!” And just like that, I’m under water, struggling to come up for air.
Disoriented by the waves of my hopeless, unbelieving thoughts, I kick my legs, push water with my arms, trying with all my might to find my way to the surface. And there I feel his warm, strong hand in the cold, violent waters grabbing my flailing arms, pulling me with his steady strength to the surface. There, drenched in unbelief, I cling grateful to this Jesus I’ve never seen.
The metaphor of me, walking on water with Jesus, and sinking in fear and doubt, plays out in my day to day.
The other day, I woke up late after working three long twelve hour shifts at the hospital, hurried to wake my teenage son, and went about my morning routine at a faster clip. In thirty minutes or less I read the Bible verse of the day on my phone, made my son a quick breakfast to-go, slipped on some shoes and drove him to school in the dark. We drove in silence while I prayed for words of life to speak to my strong-willed son who’s been resisting boundaries since he found out how to escape his crib at 11 months of age. None came to mind.
We pulled up in silence to the high-school at the coldest point in the morning, when the sun’s light just begins to drive out the darkness. “Ok, I’ll see you this afternoon at your game son. I love you.” He mumbled, “Thanks mom” climbed out of the car, threw his backpack over his shoulder and made his way into the institution that will not teach him about this Jesus I’ve never seen but love. I sighed a pleading prayer and started driving home.
On my way back home burning tears welled up, my throat tightened, I felt like I couldn’t breath. I was sinking. “How will he ever believe?! What if he never believes?! Why can’t I think of any life-giving things to say to him? I’m doing nothing for him…” And then I felt the strong grip of God’s faithfulness yank me out of my faithlessness. The remembrance of God’s sovereignty in the stories of Joseph’s betrayal, Moses’ call, Ruth’s redemption, Daniel’s answered prayers… and Peter’s restoration came to mind. And my tears flowed with thankfulness. This Jesus I’ve never seen whispered to my heart, “Oh you of little faith. Why do you doubt? Remember who I am. Remember what I’ve done.”
“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you out of slavery to your sin. I am the one that made you able to want me in the first place. I am the one who gave life to your body and made you born from above. I am the one who took out your heart of stone and gave you a tender heart to love me. I am the one who teaches you and guides you and will never leave you or forsake you. I am the one who began this good work in you and I will be faithful to complete it. I am the one who invites you to bring your children to me. I am the one hears your prayers and gives good gifts. I am God. Nothing is impossible for me!”
This is everyday real life for me as a Christian. I heard the old old story. I believed it. And now everyday I go about my daily life with a heart that beats with tender-love for this Jesus I’ve never seen, and the people he’s put around me. But I forget so easily what He’s done for me. I forget that He’s the one who made my hope in him possible in the first place. And I start to sink. Even still I’ve found he’s always there, pulling me out of death into life, over and over and over again. This history I have with this Jesus I’ve never seen but love is proving to me that not only did I believe in him in the first place because he miraculously gave me a heart to have affections for him, but every day I will only continue to believe in him because his strong arm is holding me.
Jesus saved me. He saves me daily. He’s my hope for waking up tomorrow and still trusting him. He’s my hope for the human-impossibility that my husband and sons will see his worth and love him. For with us it’s impossible. But with God, nothing will be impossible. He will keep holding our relationship together until I see him one day face to face. And then, oh finally then, I’ll never sink in the waters of unbelief again.