Has God ever promised you something that was completely outside of your control? Worse yet, has He told you something would happen but it is completely dependent upon someone else?
That’s the uncomfortable situation I am struggling with right now.
About one and a half years ago, I began to sense God telling me that something would happen, something that is dependent upon someone else. I agonized in prayer for over ten months, begging God to tell me if it was only my desire or if it was Him talking to me. I was so afraid of misreading my wants and desires as His will! I remember lying awake night after night, reminding God that He is not the author of confusion, begging Him to make it clear to me. Time after time, the light would shine bright—and I would still fear that it was me and not God.
Finally, God got my attention. As I sat in church one February morning, the pastor used a verse from John 10 where Jesus simply says, “The sheep know my voice.” In an instant, with those five simple words, God spoke very clearly to my heart.
“Dena, you’ve been my precious lamb for many years,” He said. “You’ve spent your life learning to distinguish my voice. You know this is me speaking because you know my voice. Accept my word, and walk forward in faith.”
As the tears streamed down my face, I knew that God had made me a promise. I knew that—even though circumstances seemed to completely contradict what was being said—God had revealed His will to me. I decided to walk forward in faith, to act on what He had told me, to believe His promise to me would come to pass in His time. His peace flooded my soul, and I began to pray in faith, thanking God for what was to come.
In faith, I began a journal of my prayers on this subject, a journal that I will one day present to this other person. In faith, I began to pray for this person as if the promise was reality. In faith, I began to thank God that He had heard my prayers.
And then doubt hit…
I spent hours anguishing over the situation, begging God to change this person, to change circumstances. Instead, He simply told me, “Love is patient.” In anxiety, I begged God to make it happen now. He said in the loudest voice I’ve ever heard from Him, “Trust me! I’ve got this.” When I questioned whether I actually wanted this to happen, He reminded me that every good and perfect gift is from Him (James 1:17). When I asked for reassurance that I wasn’t going crazy, He reminded me that many are the plans in a man’s heart, but He directs them all (Proverbs 19:21). When I doubted that God was really going to make it happen, He reminded me that not one of His good promises to the house of Israel ever failed (Joshua 23:14).
As the months have passed and I’ve walked in obedience, I’ve found that peace has been the pervading emotion in my life—most days. I’ve discovered that I am trusting God more, that I’m believing God will do what He says He will do. I am finding that as my faith is tested—yet again—that He is completely faithful, that He uses trials and tests to make our faith mature and complete so that we are not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).
Today as I continued to grapple with fear and doubt, my mind was taken to the story of Peter walking on water.
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake … Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, …Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. …
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strongwind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
Five years ago, when I was still a happily married pastor’s wife, we were walking into a period of unknown. The words to the song Voice of Truth captured my heart one morning, and I knew God was calling me to step out of my comfort zone into the realm of the unknown where He was holding out His hands. He was calling me to walk on water, just as Peter did in Matthew 14. I knew there was a storm on the horizon, but I had no idea how destructive it would be. That song echoed through my mind day after day, beckoning me to a deeper faith, reminding me that God was waiting with out-stretched hand. I knew that He was calling me to a deeper faith than I had ever known.
This journey to build my faith has taken me through the storm of adultery and divorce. I’ve walked through four years as a single mom. I’ve been through financial destruction. I’ve been forced to find emotional and spiritual healing for myself and to attempt to lead my children to that place of health as well. I’ve had to fight to find a job in an ailing economy and to deal with loneliness and despair. I’ve had to put aside my pride and learn to ask for help instead of being the rock to which everyone else turns.
Up until this point, I have been an active participant in all of the struggles. Finances require me to work and budget. Single parenting requires me to be heavily involved. My healing and restoration requires me to cooperate with God. But now, God is asking me to trust him about a situation over which I have absolutely no control. It requires total and complete trust in Him and Him alone. God has stretched me and pulled me as far from my comfort zone as possible!
And as I struggle with fear and doubt today I am reminded of God’s never-ending faithfulness through this journey. I am reminded that my faith is so much deeper, so much richer. I trust God more fully, more completely. I can say with Job, I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes (Job 42:5). I have experienced the Great I AM, and He has met my every need.
As I was driving home from church this morning and reflecting on the anxiety I have felt this weekend, God hit me between the eyes. Just as Peter was walking on the water, he found himself looking at the wind and water. He quit focusing on Jesus who was holding out his hand, building his faith. He began to look at the circumstances around him—and he was terrified and began to sink!
And I hear Jesus say to me as He said to Peter, “You have so little faith! Why do you doubt me?”
The truth is I’ve quit focusing on Jesus in the last few days, and I’ve been looking at the circumstances. I’ve come to realize that the fulfillment of this promise requires someone else to cooperate with God, and I have no control. God is whispering to me that He wants me to relinquish control, to trust Him to handle the situation. He wants me to focus my eyes on Him and not on the waves swirling all around me. He has brought Isaiah 26:3 to mind so many times, reminding me that peace comes to those who focus their attention on Him.
I don’t know how long it will take for God to fulfill this promise, but I know that He is faithful and trustworthy. I know that He keeps telling me to be still because this is His battle (Exodus 14:14). I know He is telling me to be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act (Psalm 37:7). I know that as long as my eyes stay fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), I won’t drown no matter how high the waves swirling around me.
And, I know that my faith will continue to be perfected and purified through this new stage in my journey—a stage that is completely dependent upon my Savior.