Wow. I just got my second wind. And just in the nick of time!
I can play along at fake it ‘til I make it for awhile, but eventually the bottom drops out and right about that time I have to admit that my faith is dwindling away.
Here’s where I’ve been over the months that I’ve neglected—through no fault of my own—this little blog. Last summer we moved, after ten years in Orange, Texas, to a town just outside of Little Rock. It was quite literally the biggest test EVER of my faith to abandon my comfy, predictable life down South for a new beginning in a new state. Not that we didn’t do it for good reason—God called us to Arkansas. My husband, a minister, has thought for years that his ministry would ultimately lead to planting a church. A brand new church. In other words, we didn’t come here with a paying position all set up for Todd. The plan is to transition to bi-vocational ministry, i.e., work a full-time job and also work on the church plant. I won’t bore you with what previous posts can explain. I’m working—teaching—at a Christian school, and I love it. But it’s a part-time job, and without another income, well…you can imagine what the Beasley emotional ride has been like in recent months. It’s not even a roller coaster. It’s one of those bungee things where they pull you down as far as you can go and catapult you into oblivion. Terrifying. But fun, I think. Oh wait, I may throw up…
Not too long before Christmas, my husband applied for a job that he really wanted. He’s applied (is applying) for many positions, but this one in particular interested him. We prayed and prayed through the whole process. And then…what a terrible letdown.
For months we kept reasserting our faith in God’s promises and felt pretty confident that whatever God will do to provide a full-time income is just over the horizon. Then this job went to another candidate just as we were staring Christmas in the face, with a bleak financial landscape to usher in 2013. The gift money and income tax refund we’d been living on was slipping away. It was time for us to begin paying for our own health insurance (thank you FBCO for covering us since August!). Our house in Texas still hasn’t sold. Suddenly, at what is usually the jolliest time of the year, I could not shake any of a sundry of negative emotions: fear, abandonment, hopelessness, anger.
What happened to my faith?
A number of years ago I did a bible study in the book of Matthew. I especially enjoyed the teaching on Jesus walking on water. One question addressed in the study invited us, the learners, to think our way into the story. You know, which character do you most identify with? Are you in the boat, not even asking to hop out and take a stroll on the waves? Are you Peter, braving the waves to walk with the Lord? Are you like Jesus, never flinching in the face of adversity? This question made me laugh. My answer? None of the above. I had to invent a character to identify with. The scripture says that the disciples had been rowing all night, buffeted by the waves, to get to the other side because Jesus had told them to. During the fourth watch, say about 3 a.m., Jesus walks on the water toward the boat to meet them.
“A GHOST!!!!!!!!” the disciples exclaimed in terror. And pandemonium, no doubt, ensued in the little fishing boat.
Here’s where Katie features in the story. I can just picture myself, engaged in the task–the not at all glamorous, ever so laboriously painful task which God is MAKING ME DO. At certainly not my proudest moment, I bark at the quivering, lily-livered disciples, “HEY!! Quit GAWKING at the ghost! Get over here and help me ROW!”
I had to laugh because back then, it was 100% true. There was work to do, God was making me do it, rarely did it yield any fruit, and faith had very little to do with it.
But not anymore.
What a change God can make! What a hard road He took me down to create in me a clean heart! Friends, I pray your way to obedience is easier than mine! Nevertheless, I made it. I’m here. God’s work is no longer just a task I have to check off my list. It is a great spiritual blessing that He’s imparted to me, that I GET to be a part of what He’s doing. Now, I pray, “God give me work—meaningful work—to do for You!”
But back to the deep despair of Christmas 2012. A week ago, that’s where I found myself, asking, “What happened to my faith?” The last week has been pure drudgery. This morning, I woke up early and prayed for God to restore my hope, my faith, and my joy. I’m not sure why I’m so surprised that He answered.
I put myself on a bible reading plan for 2013. This morning I got to read–guess what?–Matthew 14 wherein we find the story of how Jesus walked on water. After reading it twice, to my great relief, something broke in me and I felt a surge of relief and hope.
It came with the realization that I’m no longer the curmudgeon waving the oar at the other disciples. I’ve leaped out of the boat, and guess what?!! I’m sinking!!
But Katie, you’re not supposed to WANT to sink. Peter started sinking and Jesus chided him for doubting and not having enough faith.
Yeah, I’d be all broken up about the failure of my faith if it weren’t for the fact that Jesus is RIGHT THERE, CLOSE ENOUGH TO GRASP MY HAND AND HOLD ME UP ABOVE THE WAVES.
Not too many years ago, I wasn’t near close enough to exercise any faith at all. But today, I’ve leaped off the edge because He told me to and I’ve never been closer to my Savior in all my years.
Praise God. He’s RIGHT THERE.
“Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.”
Thank you. This is a beautiful testimony. It puts things into perspective and priority. We want what we want, but in the end what matters is our trust in Him, and our awareness of how close He is to us. I was trying to explain this to my daughter just last night. She’s 12 and starting to ask those difficult questions “How do you know God is real?” “If God is real, why does he let bad things happen?” I was trying to explain to her what faith is and why it is important. I think I’ll share your story.
Thank you so much for this. I want what I write to make a difference to someone. You’ve blessed me more than I can say!