A few friends of mine link up to Graceful for the purpose of sharing what they learn at Church on Sundays or just sharing what they are learning spiritually.
I decided to link up for the first time this week because of the wonderful sermon I heard this weekend. It was a message I thought we could all benefit from hearing and so I'm going to share it with you.
The gospel this week was from Matthew 14:22-23. I don't remember all of Father George's words exactly but I'll try to recreate his homily.
After ministering to a large crowd, Jesus was tired and stayed behind to rest and to pray , He sent His disciples ahead of Him and they set out in the boat on the lake. The water became treacherous as the winds became fierce and Jesus recognized that His friends were in trouble, so He walked out on the water to meet them. Jesus never took His eyes off of His disciples.. He knew exactly what was happening to them. He never takes His eyes off of us.. He always knows what is happening to us too.
As Jesus approached on the water, the disciples cried out in fear. Their minds could not accept that anything other than a ghost could walk on water, so that is what they presumed Jesus' presence to be. Jesus cried out . "Courage, it is I!" These words are the same words Jesus tells us everyday when we are facing difficulties.
The disciples were in danger of drowning.. we are also in danger of drowning in our trials.. debt, illness, marital problems, financial instability. Sometimes we fear being shipwrecked and lost in the constant storms of life. Yet Jesus is telling us "Courage, it is I!" He is telling us to keep our eyes on Him and not on our situations. He is telling us that He sees and knows our fears and our struggles and that He is with us always.
ALWAYS... even when we sin God does not turn His eyes away from us. What an awesome thing to know! When Father said these words I felt my heart tremble at the awesome truth of it.
When Peter heard the Lord's voice, he said "Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water." Peter knew in His heart that Jesus would make this possible, so when the Lord said "Come", he got out of the boat and began to walk. When the realization hit him of where he was and what danger he was in, he totally lost his courage and his faith wavered and he began to sink.
Sometimes, we step out of our boats, we step out on the limb because our faith tells us that we can do all things in Christ, but then we make a fatal error. We look down.. we look down at how desperate or impossible our situations may be and our faith wavers, we wobble on that branch or start sinking in the water.
Peter cried out.. "Lord, save me!" and immediately Jesus grabbed his hand and held him saying, "Man of little faith, why did you doubt?" Jesus acknowledged that Peter had faith, but that this faith needed to grow and be made strong. Strong enough to believe in that which may be impossible, but is made possible through God.
In our own situations which may often seem hopeless.. do we cry out "Lord save me!"? Do we lift our eyes up to Him and grab for His hand? Sometimes we fail to recognize His hand, we sink, we fall because we allow our problems and obstacles to become bigger than our faith, to blind us to the power that God extends to us when He extends His hand.
I have found in my own experiences that it is the trials that have honed my faith, sharpened and expanded it. It is an ongoing process.. one that will never be finished until the day I, hopefully, meet my Maker.
Father George shared a story of faith and courage with us to illustrate his point. I will share my own with you. Nine years ago my husband lost his job. He was given renumeration that was the equivalent of about 6 months' salary. Our children were in a private school with extensive fees and we had (still have) a mortgage to pay and credit card debt. The months stretched on and we were as frugal as we could be but no job was forthcoming.
We continued to pray, trusting in God and the covenant He had formed with us. We believed that He would take care of us, no matter what. As it came down to the eighth month and the last of the money would be finished, our relatives became increasingly anxious for us, but we believed that God would take us down to the end and somehow the door He had in mind for us would open. It was HARD keeping this faith, believe me, but somehow His Grace kept us calm and trusting.
Within that last month, a letter came in the mail. You have to understand that this is VERY unusual. Job interviews are usually set up via telephone. This letter was requesting my husband to attend an interview. Down to the last wire, the Lord had come through for us! My husband got this job, and we were able to maintain the lifestyle we had had before.
God rewards our faithfulness and our faith. I truly loved Father's sermon this weekend and I wanted to share this joyful message with you. God is bigger than our problems! God is with us ALWAYS! He is the only thing that we can truly and completely depend upon.
The storms of life may rock our little boats, but if we keep our eyes on Him and have courage, we will see that His hand is always outstretched, always there for us to grab on to.