Monday, March 5, 2007

My Brother, Peter

We still have sickness at our house. It seems unending at times. Ruthie finally succumbed to the flu last Wednesday and has had the worst symptoms of us all. Sometimes she coughs for more than an hour at night before falling back asleep. It's heart-breaking to see your kids suffering. Charlie and I agree, though, that this has led us to a more intimate prayer life.

Friday, I felt like I had really blown it with the Lord. Monday was such a triumphant day for me. I really felt as if I was battling with and for the Lord. We prayed: Olivia was healed. I rested: the Lord attended my every need. I bathed myself in the Word: life seemed new and fresh despite our sicknesses. But, as each day went on, I found myself more and more tired physically. I wasn't getting much rest at night and the days were filled with endless piles of laundry and dishes and Kleenexes and trips to the pharmacy and doctor's office. I was still praying and still in the Word but a subtle change occurred. Instead of focusing on what the Lord was doing, I started focusing on what I couldn't. Friday night was the breaking point. Ruthie started running a fever again and developed a nasty cough. I quick call to the pediatrician (after hours of course!) had me packing Ruthie into the van and headed to the ER. On the way, I could sense the Lord trying to talk to me but, fatigue and anger were winning that argument. After an hour and a half at the ER, Ruthie and I came home with instructions to rest and drink fluids. She was basically fine except for the lingering effects of the flu.

I tried to sleep that night but I felt so out of touch with the Lord. I mean, wasn't I doing all the right things? Why was it so hard to pray? Why wasn't the Word giving me the same comfort I'd had just days before? What was wrong? As I was starting to fall asleep--and my mind wasn't racing anymore--that still small voice that had wanted to speak to me earlier, came back, "Faith is about what I can do, not what you cannot. You aren't trusting me. Come walk on the water with Me."

The weekend was busy taking care of everyone but I asked God to help me. I wasn't even sure what I needed help with but I knew I couldn't do anything in my own strength. He, of course, was faithful and allowed me to care for my family and home. I knew God had something more for me in the Word, something to help build my faith. I just waited for Him to reveal it to me.

This morning, as I sat in the early morning light, I turned to Joshua, where I have been studying. Instead, the Lord took me to the Gospels. I read in Matthew how Jesus called Peter out onto the water:

"And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
Matthew 14:28-31

Peter wasn't sure it was Jesus on the water. His proof came in asking the Lord to allow him to walk on water, too. But, when Peter realized what he was doing and how agitated the water was, he became afraid. His focus shifted from what the Lord could do to what he, Peter, could do. He knew that the Lord could walk on water but, he also knew that he could not. When his focus changed, his faith lessened.

I can relate to Peter. When the Lord asked us to give something up for Lent, I was excited to see what blessings would come of that sacrifice. When our family first started getting sick, I knew it was a test and an attack. I knelt before the Lord Almighty and asked for mercy and healing, knowing He would sustain us. But, when I started taking note of my own physical condition and started thinking about how long I could endure sleepless nights and endless days, my faith lessened dramatically. My faith in the Lord went from an intimate, heart-felt knowledge to a distant, head-knowledge. Things felt dreary and empty and less hopeful.

"Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

That is my all-day prayer today. And, I know the Lord to be faithful when I ask for something that He wants me to have. He wants me to have a clean heart and a steadfast spirit. I know He is working that in and through me even as I write this.

I praise You, Lord, and You alone, for Your ultimate example of faithfulness. Be near to me today. Give me the chance to place my faith in You alone. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Ann said...

Thanks, Jen. You're exactly right--it's when I focus on me, not on God, that I lose faith. A very good thing for me to hear today!