This evening I was spending some time with Jesus and heard a song by Lauren Daigle called "Peace Be Still.” A line in the song says, "I will walk upon the waves until I'm dancing in the deep," and it brought to mind something the Lord taught me earlier this year that I'm forever grateful for.
I feel, like many of us, I've heard the story of Peter walking on water too many times to count, and to be honest, I saw myself a little in his shoes. Maybe you can relate, but I want a life of deep faith, a life of crazy obedience. If God said give up your home, I believe we would. If He said move to a place no one wants to go, fine. Be with people others don't want to, yep. Give away your money, if you say so. But earlier this year, in His ongoing effort to bring me freedom, Jesus made me realize even with that desire, that faith, I was still living with feet planted firmly inside my proverbial boat. I would like to say this came as a shock to me, but in all honesty, it didn't. You see, although I'd be willing to walk on the water in so many areas, I knew there was one area I just avoided talking to God about, because the thought of offering it up crushed my heart and stole my breath. I was willing to keep my grasp on my shaky boat rather than let go and step into the unthinkable. In truth, I was afraid of His will...and in a life of faith, that's crippling. Let me explain. Scripture is my ultimate truth. If it says it, I try to (however imperfectly) live it. I hold fast to the faithfulness of our Father, and I trust that His will for us is good (Psalm 84:11), that He is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31), that in His awesomeness, He can work out all things for good (Romans 8:28). I agree with God on all accounts for His "ends"...yet His "means" made me falter. Though I really did want to lay all that I am/have out there for His choosing, what if what He chose was too heavy for me to bear? What if He asked the unimaginable of me? What if His "means" meant cancer? What if His "means" meant the loss of someone I loved? And so, unwittingly, I skirted shining light on that small but pivotal area, and discontentedly lived my life of faith inside my boat. But God is gracious and He knew if I could just surrender my fear of the unthinkable...I'd be free. Free. But I just couldn't do it. And then in December, He decided to do it for me.
You see, three years ago, my childhood friend in England was diagnosed with liver cancer. I fasted and prayed with her for the three years that she fought a cancer they said would only give her months. It was the first time in my life I made the conscious decision to lay an unguarded heart before the Lord, to finally not fear His answer and lay aside all doubt, to believe with all my heart for her healing just like she did. And then just after Christmas this year she passed away, leaving her babies without a mama and her husband without a wife. I was crushed. Heartbroken. Annoyed that I had allowed myself to lay my heart on the line. In the weeks to come, I really struggled. And one night, I was sitting at my table reading scripture, trying to wrap my brain around His answer to my faith, and Jesus clearly asked me, "Why do you guard your heart from me?" Maybe you can relate, but I had always considered myself a realist...you just couldn't expect God to say yes to everything, right, so why put your heart out there? But in truth, I was trying to protect myself from His answers, like He couldn't be trusted. As a result, I would pray toothless prayers and rejoice when the answer was yes and shrug off the no's as a "That's just the way life is, His ways are above our ways." All along thinking I was being wise and mature. God calling me out was a crossroads for my shaky boat I was sure I could live faithfully in. I could cling to my boat or follow where He called. And that evening, I heard Him clearly tell me that He had allowed me to offer up my faith, unprotected for Heather, so He could pull the Band-Aid off where I wouldn’t. And now my heart could heal. Though His answer shook me, His grace kept me afloat, and He showed me that this lesson for little ole me was one of the many good things He would draw from Heather's passing. He settled it between us, that though the what-if's are still unimaginable, they aren't petrifying. God is trustworthy, and no matter what He asks of us, no matter what it looks like, He is our sustainer. He will bring healing and strengthen our faith. The words of Daigle’s song echo well.
For those of you who have lived through your unfathomable, I'm praying your hearts would be strengthened with deep healing. For those who are tempted to live faithfully inside your boat, I encourage you to shed light on what you're afraid of. And I'm praying for us all today, that we wouldn't fear the will of our Father. Though His ways are mysterious, He loves our joy, uses our pain, and honors our faith. He IS for us.
(I encourage you to take some time and listen to Lauren Daigle’s song “Peace Be Still” today.)