08.17.10

If You Feel Blessed But Stressed . . .

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:31 pm by Zane Brown

. . . you’re in good company.

I was doing some yard work yesterday while my MP3 blared “Let the Waters Rise”  by Mike’s Chair.  It’s a song that I’d heard scores of times, but this time, I stopped my work so that I could focus on the lyrics.  Allow me to share them with you:

Don’t know where to begin. It’s like my world’s caving in and I tried, but I can’t control my fear. Where do I go from here?  Sometimes it’s so hard to pray.  You feel so far away.  I am willing to go where You want me to.  God I trust You.

There’s a raging sea right in front of me;  wants to pull me in, bring me to my knees.  So let the waters rise if You want them to.  I will follow You.

I will swim in the deep, cuz You’ll be next to me.  You’re in the eye of the storm and the calm of the sea.  You’re never out of reach.   God, You know where I’ve been.  You were there with me then.  You were faithful before.  You’ll be faithful again.  I’m holding Your hand. 

God, Your love is enough.  You will pull me through.  I’m holding on to You.

Stormy seas often produce flooding.  In 1989, scores of people took shelter at Lincoln High School in McCellanville, SC to escape the fury of Hurricane Hugo.  Their shelter almost became a death trap as the storm surge flooded the school building and required many adults to hold children over the heads as they sought refuge on the roof.   The rising waters could have quickly taken the lives of many of the 400+ folks seeking shelter that night.  By the grace of God, no one died there. 

While pastoring in North Charleston, I met with some deacons who tried to persuade me to focus more on the joy of following Jesus in my preaching.  Their chief complaint was that I spent too much time talking about valleys and storms and difficult times.  My explanation didn’t change their minds, but I still hold to it.  MOST of life for MOST of us is lived in the storms and valleys and flood waters of life.  Whether it’s health issues, employment issues, realtional issues, financial issues, or any other kind of issues, following Jesus does not guarantee that those things will dissipate.  When we come to faith in Jesus, the only guarantee that we have, other than the certainty of heaven, is that HE will be with us in the valleys, storms, and floodwaters. 

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that walking in God’s will means the absence of distress.  It does not!  You need only read the Psalms and Ecclesiastes to discover the distress of David and Solomon.  You need only to read of the persecution of the early Church, the stoning of Stephen, the killing of James, the thorn in Paul’s side, and the Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11 to discover that following Jesus really is taking the hard road.   It’s not for weaklings, cowards, or quitters. 

In Matthew 14:22-32, please notice that Jesus could have stilled the winds and the waves on Galilee that night, but He didn’t.  Surely, it would have been easier for Peter to step out onto a sea as smooth as glass.  But when Jesus told him to step out, the wind still howled and the swells continued to crash against the boat.  But as long as Peter kept His focus on the Christ Who called him, he could literally rise above the normal effects of the storm.  BUT, at the moment he changed his focus from Jesus to the rising waters, he began to sink.    At that point, Jesus reached out to rescue him and said, “You of little faith.  Why did you doubt?” 

For most of us, life will continue to confront us with issues, dilemmas, and stressors of every sort.  The winds will continue to howl and the waters will rise and fall.  Between all the mountaintops, we’ll be force to travel in the valleys.  Why?  Because that’s where ministry is needed.  Those valleys and stormy seas will be littered with hurting folks and we can point them to the One Who can help them rise above the effects of the storm. 

Whenever the waters are rising in your life, ask yourself a couple of questions:

1.  Have I lost my focus?   Am I distracted from Christ? 

2.  What is it that Jesus desires to teach me in this storm/valley that could be useful in helping others?   How will this strengthen my witness to those in my circles of influence?

Distress comes to us all.  Fear is natural.  Questions are OK.  Obedience is key.  Even when you’re afraid . . . even when you don’t understand . . . even when there seems to be no answers, keep the faith and keep your focus on Jesus.   His love is enough and He WILL pull you through.