We didn't attend church last Sunday. Yesterday, I took about 3 naps...and felt guilty about it, but according to my phone I slept an average of 4hrs 32min each night last week, so... Today we slept in, ate breakfast, missed the first 2 services at our church, but I said, "the devil is a liar - I am attending somebody's church today!" We went to Elevation's 11:30am service, late, but Pastor Furtick was sharing the Scripture passage from which his message was based. Matthew 14:22-36. It was the passage in which Jesus sent His disciples to cross the lake to Gennesaret, it was when Peter walked on the water out to meet Jesus, until he saw the wind and faltered.
Furtick called his message "winded." He talked about how we all get winded, or tired, how we lack sufficient "Christian Cardio." He said no matter how tired we are we must depend on His wind to do His work. He said, and it is very true, "The Holy Spirit does not consult human schedules." If we read the preceeding passages, we see that the disciples and Jesus, Himself, were also tired. In Matthew 14:1-12, Jesus' friend and cousin, John the Baptist was killed. In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus learns of this, withdraws to a solitary place to grieve, briefly, then another crowd has formed, The disciples want to send them away because it is already late (v.15) but Jesus says no, we will feed them. There were 5000 men, but also women and children (v.21). As the child of a former caterer, I can attest to how exhausting this type of work can be, and with no preparation - they didn't rest up for this, they didn't have their minds right, Jesus said it was to be done and they did it - they didn't even have enough food, but they never ran out. Then they cleaned up after the crowd. "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd." (Mat. 14:22). So after this huge catering affair, immediately, Jesus voluntold His disciples to get into the boat, and it wasn't a sailboat, but a row boat to head to the other side and the wind was against it (v. 24).
As Jesus walked on the water out to the boat, in the windy conditions, the disciples were afraid both due to the storm and seeing this figure appearing to walk on the water. When He spoke to them they recognized Him, but Peter wanted to walk out and join Him. “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
So, today at church, I was convicted by this passage and Furtick's message. I am winded. After today's message, I wonder if I may be taking the cultural stance of the importance of self-care too far. During Covid, we all became accustomed to church on TV and after so long, we began to enjoy two, fullI, weekend days. Once churches reopened, using Saturday and Sunday as days of rest had become a habit. When I think about taking on new tasks and duties, I also think about what I am going to give up. I wrote this blog each week for 4 years. In that time, we began to desire a new home, and God provided just that. We wanted a home with some projects to complete - God provided that. I let the stress of the projects convince me that I should take a break from the blog. Now, with the difficulty of finding people to do the work, the projects have been delayed, but God has not rescinded the calling He put on my life. He's waiting, patiently, for me to get it together and be obedient. But how long will He be patient?
He gave me a book to write during the closure of 2020. I wrote it, I've had a few people to proofread it and give me feedback, but I haven't fixed the mistakes they pointed out and I have not published the book. How long will He wait?
In about 2019, I dreamed I was in the pulpit preaching the Word of God to a large and responsive crowd. I dreamed it multiple nights in a row, but I said nothing about it. Finally, I told my husband, who is a licensed and ordained minister. He told me to calm down about that, that being a minister was a whole lot of work, that I should be careful what I ask for. I didn't ask for it. I told my Pastor and another friend who is a Pastor - I asked what I needed to do. Both were very cool about it and advised me to continue to pray. I have. I haven't had those dreams anymore. I have been asked to speak a few times during church service, but here lately, I am not satisfied with sitting having a message shared with me, I know the Word of God for myself and believe I am called to share it with anyone willing to listen. He already told me. How long will He wait?
I have realized today that we can get winded in a whole lot of ways. We can get winded by our grief. Jesus was grieving the loss of John the Baptist, but He still did His work. I lost my dog this past summer and all yard work ceased - I got winded. We can get winded by delays. We can get winded when the pile of work seems endless. We can get winded by the news - gas prices are about to rise, food prices are rising, the stage for nuclear war is being set, there's a hurricane coming - all of these things can cause us to pull back from the work God has called us to do. I've decided today, and I'm proclaiming it publicly, I'm winded, but I'm willing. Lord, use me. Lord, I am here to do the work you have planned for me to do. And, Lord, I'm ready to do it now. Lead me, Lord. Reveal my next steps.
How long will He wait? In this year's Bible study, we are reading in 1 Kings 11 about the kings of Israel. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, loved the foreign women. He was told, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Solomon married 700 women of royal birth and 300 concubines. After some time the Lord told him, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” How long will He wait? We do not know. He gives us Scripture so that we know His character and how He has intervened and provided and punished and protected and loved those who claim to love Him in the past. How long will He wait? That is not for me to know. I know what He has told me and I know that He gives me a choice - to be obedient or not to be obedient. I am choosing obedience. I am winded, but willing. Amen. What about you?