On New Glasses and Feelings and Truth.

Last weekend, I got a new pair of glasses, but I can’t show them to you. Actually, nobody can see them. I won’t describe them to you and I won’t tell you how much they cost. I will, however, wear them around you, and maybe you’ll notice, maybe you won’t. It’s really up to you to keep a lookout for them.

Let me explain.

Last Saturday, early in the morning after the sun had just risen and it was a cool 80 degrees outside, I was spending some time in prayer. As I was praying for restoration and healing in hearts, I became overwhelmed. I started questioning the actuality of those things happening, wondering if there was something I could do, trying to configure a plan to make people and lives and hearts better. As if it’s my job.

The Lord intervened in my spirit and said, “You cannot worry about other people. Trust that I see them as much as I see you. I’m taking care of them. I’m loving them. When you take your eyes off Me and look around, you start to sink.”

The Holy Spirit then prompted me to read the well-known story of when Jesus walked on water over in Matthew 14. Since I had read and heard that story countless times, I sat there, refusing to read the story, staring at my open journal and closed Bible. Finally, I threw my hands up, flipped open my Bible, and started reading.

And this is when I got my new glasses.

A quick summary of the story goes like this:

The disciples are in a boat that is being tossed by wind and waves, probably wearing flip flops and tunics, while Jesus hikes up a mountain to pray and process the past few days of ministry. At about 3 am, Jesus decides to join the disciples and chooses the quickest route to them by walking on the water. Tired and weary, the disciples notice a figure coming towards them, think it’s a ghost, and become overwhelmed with fear and emotion. Jesus tells them who He is and not to worry. Quick-witted Peter yells, “Hey! If it’s really you, then tell me to walk on the water and come to You!” Of course, Jesus says, “Come on!” So, Peter puts his swimsuit on, climbs over the edge of the boat, and touches his toes to the water. Upon realizing that he’s not sinking, he starts to walk towards Jesus with joy and excitement. Unfortunately, the wind around Peter causes him to become frightened and he starts to sink, while at the same time crying out for Jesus to save him. He was almost there! In typical, loving, Jesus fashion, He reaches out His hand and saves Peter.

First off, please grant me some grace towards my modern-day rendition of this story, as no offense or harm is meant to be caused. This is the story that I saw when I read it the other day. I could suddenly feel the humidity rising from the water, smell the freshly caught fish, see the shadow of Jesus in the distance, hear the wind howling through the boat, and taste the water as it hit Peter’s lips when he started to sink.

I read this story from the Amplified Version of the Bible, which I highly recommend to anyone wanting deeper and richer meanings to these sacred words. This translation relays Peter’s experience of walking on water as one that all humans go through. It says that “when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me from death!’” (v 30). I had always thought the story went that Peter took his eyes off Jesus, saw the storm and waves, and became afraid. That would make sense, right? I think the Holy Spirit, through Matthew, wanted to convey the deeper, heart issue that hits each of us when we walk through life.

I don’t think the point of this story is that taking our eyes off Jesus and looking at a storm causes us to sink. Nor do I think that the lesson is to keep tunnel vision on Jesus so that we don’t see any storm around us. The verse says that Peter perceived and felt the wind, and he became frightened. He began to sink and realized that he was headed towards death when he cried out to Jesus. It was Peter’s perceptions and feelings that caused him to fear. His fear caused him to sink towards death. All while a few steps away from his Savior.

This story of Jesus and Peter on the water is what the Holy Spirit used to hand me a new pair of glasses. I was presented with a real, sensory story and saw myself in Peter. My fears and insecurities rise up when I try to step forward based on my perceptions and feelings. I quickly sink towards death when I stand on circumstances and emotions.

Peter’s story is about standing on and walking toward the I AM, regardless of perceptions and feelings. Oh, that we may be a people who quit living based on emotions and circumstances. Rather, may we be people who step out of the boat in confidence and bravery, trust and security in the One who calls us onto the waters, regardless of what we perceive or feel around us.

For feelings lead to doubt and death, while faith leads to obedience and life.

And I’m pretty certain I want to live.

Aslan Is On the Move

I’m one who likes to stay posted on world news and happenings. I think it’s smart to keep in touch with the realities of what is happening in other places outside of my own so that I don’t walk in the naivety that everything is flowers and roses. Lately, however, the news headlines, just from this past week, seem to be worse and worse each day:

The Ebola epidemic, stretching from Guinea to Nigeria, has killed over 1,000 people

ISIS attacks and unrest continue in Iraq

Suspected suicide of Robin Williams

Africa’s last polar bear died

Missiles being shot across Israel and Gaza

Boko Haram continues to kidnap young women in Nigeria

Teenager sets himself on fire while his mother helps

Protests in Missouri over alleged racist killing of an 18-year-old, resulting in release of the National Guard to protect citizens and police

Plane crash kills a Brazilian presidential candidate

Ukrainian government continues to fight pro-Russian separatists, resulting in over 2,000 deaths

I have opted in to receive automatic notifications from my CNN app to help me stay on top of things. Last week, I remember looking at my phone and seeing yet another blurb of bad news from CNN, and thinking to myself, “When will this stop?” I sighed a release of exhaustion from reading these things, paused for a brief thanks that I don’t have to dodge missiles or fear Ebola creeping in my organs, and continued about my day pulling espresso shots and making latte art.

I began to become bothered at how these notifications did not affect me like they really should. Sure, I was sad to see something else going on, but it didn’t hit me deep in my spirit like it should. It was like I had come to expect bad news, instead of expect good news. So, what do I do when bad news isn’t surprising anymore?

Since Eve first made headlines from eating the forbidden fruit, bad news has come to perpetrate our every day lives. It has instilled mistrust, fear, and instability in a world that was originally intended to walk in harmony with the Father. People lay their heads down at night hungry, sick, and hurting in places deeper and more complex than where bone and sinew meet. What’s the point of all this wrong? Why is it happening?

When Jesus was on the earth, He taught the disciples how to pray. The beginning of the prayer goes like this:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Jesus said that we should first recognize God as our Father and as holy. Then, He calls us to pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done–the same on earth as it is in heaven. No pain, no fear, no bad news. Rather, He wants us to pray that earth would look and smell and feel and taste more and more like heaven every day. If I may be so bold, I don’t think that means us as Christians are to sit and pray and wait for God to come and eradicate all that is evil in the world. I think, instead, it is a call to action. A call for us to start spending our time, talents, and resources to transform earth into a more heaven-like place.

I recently read a book that briefly speaks of this world that God longs to see. The author, Sarah Bessey, references a popular and powerful quote from a classic C.S. Lewis tale after describing a place without fear and evil:

The Table may be loud and dominant, but love and freedom are spreading like yeast. I see hope creeping in, destabilizing old power structures. I feel it in the ground under my feet. I hear it in the stories of the people of God living right now. We’re whispering to each other, eyes alight, “Aslan is on the move.” Can’t you feel that? The kingdom is breathing among us already. -Jesus Feminist, 4

I believe that Aslan is already on the move in this earth, and that if we look closely, we can see His hand pushing out the enemy’s strongholds and His breath consuming things in opposition to Him. I believe that I (and all followers of Christ, for that matter) carry the power to transform this world into that which God desires it to be. I believe that Jesus commanded we pray for kingdom to come to earth just like heaven because He believes in us to join alongside His already existing work in the world in restoration and love. Colossians 1:27 confirms this power by declaring that the mystery has been made known, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

While there are thousands of people living in fear around the world, I think it’s time we rise up and declare the hope of Christ. We don’t have time to waste sitting in our safe homes, ignoring the cries of desperation, while God is asking us to be His mouthpiece to the hopeless. People are waiting for us to walk through the door and whisper into the depths of their souls that today is the day when fear dies and love prevails. It’s when we surrender our perception of safety and security that we can step beyond ourselves, look to where God is already in momentum within the world, and partner with His work in bringing His kingdom to earth, just as it is in heaven.

Do you believe it is actually possible for earth to be like heaven? Do you have your ears and eyes in tune to see the work of the Holy Spirit already moving? Are you ready to join hands with God and bring hope to this seemingly hopeless world?