Throwback Thursday: Keep Your Eyes on Me

Matthew 14:22-33 (NIV)

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Infertility can be a lot like this.Think of the times when you get that big negative. Your mind starts to swirl — days earlier you were standing strong, ready to receive whatever the Lord hands you and give Him great glory with your strength — then suddenly you’re getting washed away by a million What ifs and thoughts of next steps and steps after that. You’re just like Peter, getting out of the boat and walking towards the Lord, then getting distracted by the wind and starting to sink.

heb12Or maybe you’re not, but I definitely am. And in these moments I think I literally (and yes, I know what literally means) hear the voice of Jesus say, “Keep your eyes on Me.” I think back to Hebrews 12, the chapter right after Hebrews 11, which is all about having real faith, when we are urged, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [i.e. those people in chapter 11], let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

And I hear Him again and again: Keep your eyes on Me.

…But what if we have to find money to do another round of this?

Keep your eyes on Me.

…But what if we have to save for adoption? 

Keep your eyes on Me.

…But what if we have fewer kids than we wanted?

Keep your eyes on Me.

 …But what if there is no cure for this?

Keep your eyes on Me.

Keep your eyes on Me.

Keep your eyes on Me.

chronI actually find myself, sometimes several times a day, listening to that command and redirecting my thoughts, sometimes physically correcting my gaze to look straight ahead. I often hear Him add, “Don’t look to the right or to the left,” and it’s reminiscent of God’s leading Joshua after Moses died, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7-9).

I hope the next time the winds start to overwhelm and distract you, you can hear and obey the voice of Jesus saying,

Keep your eyes on Me.

Keep your eyes on Me.

Keep your eyes on Me.

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Reposted from October 8, 2013

“God never says ‘no'” (and other lies that disappoint)

About a year ago in my small group we were discussing God’s will and prayer. One very sweet woman, in sharing her thoughts, said this quote:

God never says, “No.” He only says, “Yes” or “Wait.”

When she said it, people made a contented sigh at the lovely idea, myself included. It wasn’t until later, while I was riding home on the subway and reflecting on our discussion, that I reconsidered it and had to confess to myself, “Um, wait a minute. That’s not true.”

truthI think similar refrigerator-magnet devotional thoughts get tossed to and fro at an especially high rate when someone is going through a hard time. It’s like people need to say something, and they figure it’s better to say anything that sounds nice — even if it’s not true in the slightest — than to say nothing at all. And people who are struggling without a solid foundation beneath them will take anything they can get.

Last spring I Skyped in to a conference at my church on infertility, miscarriage and child loss. At one point they had a panel of women who had experienced such tragedies, and they were asked a variety of questions. One question was, “What is the least comforting thing someone said to you in your affliction?” There were a few unkind things to mention, but the responses that stuck out to me were non-truths like the one above. One woman, a friend of mine who lost one baby in a car accident and another in stillbirth, said the thing that bothers her the most is when people try to comfort her by saying her babies are now angels. While she knows they mean well, it irks her to hear things like that that just aren’t true, and therefore aren’t comforting to someone who knows truth.

So let me address the fallacy about prayer mentioned above. Let me say that yes, we always have hope in prayer. God can do anything, and He makes lots of promises about prayer in scripture. I can’t explain it, but at the same time, it is true that God sometimes just says “no” to our requests. There are biblical examples of this. Continue reading ““God never says ‘no’” (and other lies that disappoint)”

Psalm 147 – If you’re brokenhearted

ps147

Psalm 147

1 Praise the Lord!

For it is good to sing praises to our God;

for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.

2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;

he gathers the outcasts of Israel.

3 He heals the brokenhearted

and binds up their wounds. Continue reading “Psalm 147 – If you’re brokenhearted”

The point of it all

We’ve talked a lot about what can be gained from this trial and the value, the necessity, of not wasting it. My biggest fear for you is probably that you will just wait it out, grin and bear it, and when it’s over you’ll look back on it as a nearly meaningless time of torture. My friend, I have to tell you, for the Christian, that just cannot be so.

The verse I probably cling to the most in this, deep to my core, is Paul’s words to Christians in trial like 2,000 years ago. They are 100% true today, and they are spoken to you. They are your hope, and the reason you must refuse not to waste these days, months and years of pain, waiting, loss, and fear.

2 Corinthians 4:17

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Oh, thank God! There IS a point to it all: to work in me things of value more important than any troubles, and thank God that this is definitely light and momentary. Oh, thank God! If you don’t memorize any other verse, please memorize that one and repeat it to yourself a hundred times a day if you have to. There is a point to this whole thing, and you better not let yourself miss it!james 1.12

The whole passage is just as awesome and encouraging. Print it out, put it where you’ll see it, and read it as much as you need.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Several weeks ago I posted a song called Though You Slay Me, and the version features a powerful quote by Pastor John Piper on suffering and the temptation to feel that it’s meaningless. It’s based on this passage. Here’s the whole thing…

“Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.

I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen.

When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40, when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out, don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory.

Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.”

Again, I just have to thank God for this truth. This is not meaningless. Paul tells other brethren […] Continue reading “The point of it all”

We rejoice in our sufferings

Ok so this morning this verse popped up like 3 times in a row… once in my inbox, once on pinterest, and someone else statused it on facebook. So I’m taking that as a “sign” (whatever that means) that I need to share it with you.

Clicking the picture will lead to Romans 5, which is one of the best chapters in the Bible and in one of my favorite books of the Bible.
Clicking the picture will lead to Romans 5, which is one of the best chapters in the Bible and in one of my favorite books of the Bible.