Ever feel like God sent you on an assignment and it was a lot harder than you thought it would be? Ever feel like something was God, but then every turn is difficult? Then you find yourself questioning whether it was God…
While I cannot tell you if it was God, I can share with you three things we need to do while we are in a struggle.
So here is the story I am referring to; in three of the gospels there is a time when Jesus had spent ALL day ministering to the people. Jesus decides its best for him to go recharge (I love that his refreshing was not indulging in TV it was to go up to the mountain and pray). He tells the disciples to load up in the boat and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee while he is off to pray. So the disciples start rowing. Not sure at what time they started, but just before dawn they were still only halfway across the lake (it was only 8 miles wide at its widest point). Here is what happens, Jesus comes off the mountain, SEEs them struggling and about to PASS them by!!! The disciples see Him walking on the water, and unknowing it is Him they cry out. Jesus responds and Peter asks Jesus to call him to walk on the water.
Peter goes for it!
Walks on the water!
Fails in the process, Jesus saves Peter and then they both get into the boat. In John’s gospel, the boat is then immediately at the other side of the lake. There are so many options on what to share about this story, but I wanted to give us all some quick nuggets on what to do when you are rowing and getting nowhere DOING what God has told you to do.
- Keep being obedient – Jesus told the disciples that they needed to row to the other side of the lake, so they did. It wasn’t that it was easy. HOWEVER, an 8-mile trek of rowing really isn’t that hard when you think about it. I remember when my dad and I did one from the shore of Lake Chiemsee to the island in a canoe. I was only 11 at the time and we made it just fine . And it didn’t take all night to make the trek, but because of the rough sea and “who know” what other factors – they were still rowing when Jesus came off the mountain. The hard part was the wind, and water struggles of rowing. They were working all night and into the morning trying to get to the other side like Jesus told them too, and all they had to show for their work was 4 miles of progress. I am sure that a few hours into it there were some internal questions on whether it was a good idea, or if they had really heard from God right, or if Jesus knew what they were facing… All the questions that we find ourselves going to when an assignment we are on gets difficult. We start wondering if God really sent us. We start questioning whether we missed God or if God has forgotten us, all because it is difficult. The truth is, following the commands of God are not always an easy road – but we have to keep being obedient if we are going to be aligned for the outcome that God designed. IF the disciples turned around and went back, they would have never seen the miracles that were about to happen.
- Keep on the lookout – I am reading into the story a little bit, but someone must have been on the lookout when Christ was walking by. It says in the Word that Jesus was about to pass them by when they noticed him. Someone had to be looking around. Now, it could have been they were looking in the direction of where they were going, however I like to think they were just looking around. Its something LEADERS do when we are up against a battle and trying to find a way to win. We start looking around to see if there are any OTHER resources or options. Someone on the team was LOOKING. Tested and in the place of frustration, instead of giving up on the assignment they were still rowing, but looking – being spiritually attentive. We have to take the time in EVERY situation to be spiritually attentive. ESPECIALLY those where we are being obedient and it SO hard. Yes, sometimes God sends us on assignments where things are not going the way we THINK they should be going. Sometimes your assignment from God will be hard on the journey to get there, causing you a LOT more work than you may have anticipated. The disciples found themselves in a place where Jesus’ assignment was causing them to be tired, weary. But there was a miracle opportunity coming up, because they were STILL looking.
- When the time comes, get permission to change the plan – Ha, I know that was kind of throws us off our theology to ask about changing the plan. But when you think about it, here was Peter in the assignment of rowing to the other side and the presence of GOD shows up in the form of Jesus walking on the water. Now, his assignment was to row, but he sees Jesus walking and he gets bold to take advantage of the opportunity. Still in obedience he ASKS Jesus if he can walk on the water to Him – and Jesus says yes. I believe that God had a plan for the disciples to learn while on this trek to get to the other side of the lake. However I also believe there was an opportunity to have a greater understanding in the process. Peter took hold of that moment and went for it. Sometimes, when we are in our trek of obedience we have an encounter with God that can accelerate our progress IF we are willing to take a step of faith and go for it.
Keep being obedient where you are, not shutting down or quitting. Keep rowing strong to get to the other side. However, keep on the lookout – keep your spiritual attentiveness alert and listen and watch for the presence of God in every rowing motion. Lastly, when the Spirit of God shows up in power, be bold. Be obedient to the faith call and watch God do something amazing.
The last part is the best IMO – in John’s gospel when Jesus got in the boat after saving Peter, John says that IMMEDIATELY the boat was on the other side. See, it wasn’t that Jesus changed Peter’s plan to get to the other side, instead it was an opportunity to accelerate through the struggle to get on the path that was laid out for them. God has you on a path, and while this storm may be wearing you out or giving you a hard time – HIS plan for you has not changed, so be on the lookout for Jesus walking on the water!
Look at everything as an opportunity to move along your path, but look around! God shows up in a lot of forms. In the Matthew 25 Jesus shares the story about how what we have done for the least of these we have done unto Him. My challenge for this week is to be engaged in the world around us, looking for opportunities to extend a hand of help, kindness and love to someone who may just be passing by. LOOK
God, wow I need to quit complaining when the waves are rough and I’ve been pushing uphill towards something – instead I need to be keep being obedient and watching for You. Please forgive me for the times that I have given up or spoken against the assignment that you have given me. I want to be a good steward of the instructions that you have given me. Please help me to always be eyes WIDE open so that I can see everything you need me to see. Please help me to be better in obedience, to move right away, all the way and with a happy heart in the direction you are sending me. I give you today and I ask that you lead me. Show me your ways in everything I do – I want nothing more than to seek you and know you today. I am yours, please use me as you see best and help me to honor you in all I do. I am in love with you, thank you for loving me!