Tom Petty Was Right

If you’re of my generation – you know, the people who remember when MTV played music videos – then you know Tom Petty’s song “The Waiting.”  I have to tell you, he was right about one thing: the waiting is definitely the hardest part. Trust me, I’m not very good at it.

A lot of us aren’t very good at it.  Some people are just too type-A to wait well.  Some of us are too spoiled by a culture of instantaneous gratification (I still can’t believe I don’t have to drive to the record shop to buy my favorite music or the bookstore for a great book).  Our on-demand lifestyle has dulled us to one of God’s great promises:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)

Have you ever watched an eagle fly?  My wife and I love to drive to different refuges and parks to witness these majestic birds in flight.  They glide effortlessly in great swoops across the sky.  They don’t struggle or flap frantically.  They move with great ease and focus, keeping their eyes on the goal (which, for eagles, is usually lunch on the ground below).

Here’s a lesson for all of us who are impatiently waiting for something in life, whatever that “something” may be: think about what your true goal in life really is.  Be honest with yourself.  Are you striving for success, or earthly gain, or some tangible improvement?  Or can you honestly rest and say, “God is sufficient.  Jesus Christ is enough for me.”  Consider the apostle Paul’s life goal: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14, ESV). 

For those of us who find waiting so difficult, it would do us well to trust in God’s timing, rest confident that His will is being done in our lives and simply let the Lord be our sufficiency.  I write this feeling somewhat like a hypocrite.  After all, as I mentioned earlier, I am Type-A and things like letting go and waiting on God do not come easily.  (That may explain why God, in His infinite wisdom, seems to let me wait as much as He does.)  In the end I have to accept that I am not the master of my universe.  God is God and I am not.  Jesus is my Lord and Savior, God’s Word is Truth and His will and wisdom are utterly perfect.  If God says “wait,” I will wait.  When I surrender all to the Lord, I find great freedom and strength.

Yes, waiting is tough, painful… sometimes downright excruciating.  But it is in waiting and focusing on the Lord that I find my true strength, and soar.


“’Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’  ‘Come,’ he said.” – Matthew 14:28-29 (NIV)

The scene wasn’t entirely new to Peter and the disciples.  They had found themselves here before – out on the water as a storm came up, tossing their boat around.  The last time, Jesus had been on board with the disciples, sleeping peacefully as the storm raged.  That time, Jesus gently rebuked their lack of faith and calmed the storm.

Now, here they were again.  Another storm whipping these disciples around at sea.  But, this time, Jesus was not in the boat.  It’s little wonder that Peter was so excited to see Jesus out on the water.  He knew that, if anyone could save them from the maelstrom, it was Jesus.

He had done it before.  He could do it again.

The psalmist knew this as well:

Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
   make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
   tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
   let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
   seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done,
   his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
   his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the LORD our God;
   his judgments are in all the earth. – Psalm 105:1-7 (NIV)

When trouble comes – when the chips are down or we can’t see a way out of the storm that rages around us – it is easy to get dragged down by our problems.  Let me encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus, and remember what God has done for you in the past.  Dwell on His Word and think about the times in the past when God has rescued you.  Consider what He has done for others as well.  Be encouraged, be refreshed, and look to the Lord – not the troubles. 

He’s been there for you before.  He’s here for you now.  He will never abandon you, for if you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you are a child of God, adopted firmly into HIs family.  Rest easy in the knowledge that the Lord God is never out of reach, never out of earshot of your prayers.  Even in the midst of the storms, remember what the Lord has done and look for Him.


“Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.” – Matthew 14:28-29 (ESV)

Have I ever told you about Mike?  Mike goes to out church, and he is on fire for Jesus.  I mean absolutely 100% sold out for Christ and not shy about it.  He reaches out to guys in jail, homeless folks, people society would just as soon not have to deal with.  And he does it with great boldness for God.  If you ever have to ask Mike how he feels about the Lord, you weren’t in the same room with him. 

Or we’re not talking about the same Mike.

When I asked Mike what inspires him to be so bold, he shared with me the storms in life that Jesus brought him through.  And he quoted from Jeremiah:

If I say, “I will not mention him,
   or speak any more in his name,”
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
   shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in,
   and I cannot. – Jeremiah 20:9 (ESV)

Then he reminded me of Luke 7:47, which says that those who are forgiven much, love much (and vice versa). 

I sometime wonder exactly what prompted Peter to come up with the idea of asking Jesus to call him out onto the water.  While that is the subject of another blog piece to come, I do know this much – it required boldness on Peter’s part.  Try to imagine being Peter, sitting on that rocking boat, the waters swelling and churning all around him, the winds screaming, all his friends fearing for their safety.  What boldness it must take to think one could possibly walk on water.  The audacity! 

And yet… he did just that.  Peter sought the Lord, and Christ beckoned him.  And Peter walked atop the choppy seas. 

Well… briefly.  Alas that, too, is for a future blog. 

For today, I simply want to encourage all of us to be bold in doing God’s will.  Love boldly.  Serve boldly.  Pray boldly.  Seek boldly.  Share boldly.  Believe boldly.  Don’t let the world tell you “no.”  Don’t let circumstances (or your perceptions thereof) dictate your every move.  Don’t let doubts sway you.  Simply be led by the Holy Spirit and go where He leads, do what He instructs.  Boldly.

We are called to follow Christ, to do His will.  And that requires boldness.  How is the Lord leading you to be bold for His Kingdom today?

It’s Only a Storm

“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’” – Matthew 14:22-27 (ESV)

As a child, I was afraid of storms.  Terrified is a better word.  One rumble of thunder, and I would spring from my bed and into my parents’ room.  One evening – I must have been around my son’s age at the time (four or so) – I remember a storm rolling in.  The thunder rumbled and pounded in the distance, the summer sky darkened as the clouds rolled in.  My dad took me out on the front porch, lifted me up and held on to me as we watched the storm move in across the field opposite our house.  “See, son,” Dad said.  “It’s only a storm.  There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Here is a fact believers may as well accept: as we mature in Christ, storms are going to come – probably more frequently and perhaps stronger than previous.  If you read Matthew, you see the process of growth unfold through the disciples – especially Peter.  (Rabbit trail: the accounts in Matthew are probably not written in perfect chronological order.  However, I believe strongly that there is not one wasted word or intention in Scripture, including the order in which things are recorded.  In our modern thinking, we are more concerned with data and quick, easily digestible facts.  To ancient writers, accuracy and info was important.  But, the lesson to be learned, the context, the reason behind the account, was of greater importance.  “Why” superseded “what.”)

So, let’s take a moment to walk through Matthew and see what Peter saw.  First, Peter is called by Jesus to be a disciple (4:18-22).  He sees Jesus’ notoriety and reputation grow.  As people are healed and delivered, the crowds following Christ swell.  He hears the teachings of Jesus through the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) and a lot of parables.  Most telling (at least in this lesson), we need to look at Matthew 9:23-27:

“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’” – Matthew 9:23-27 (ESV)

As Yogi Berra once famously quipped, “It’s déjà vu all over again!”  Here Peter and the disciples are again, out on a boat in the midst of a raging storm.  The first time, Jesus was right in the boat with them – unruffled and fast asleep.  The second time, He was not.  In fact, look closely… Jesus sent them right into the storm.  As they are riding high on the participation in the great miracle of feeding the five-thousand, before the crowds have even dispersed, Jesus sends the twelve off immediately into seas that will soon be roiling and choppy.

Yet… and here is the lesson (at least for today), Jesus is right there with them.  Even though He is not sitting in the boat this time, He has never left them.  The faith of the disciples was still solidifying.  They had witnessed much, heard much, learned much.  But the events they had witnessed and teachings they had taken in – often with great difficulty – needed to become reality.  In school, we are given tests to measure how well the root of our learning has taken.

So it is in life.

I could go on with the classic examples of a diamond being formed from a lump of coal under great pressure, or gold being refined by fire, but that might belabor the point.  Simply put, we need storms in our spiritual life to help us grow, because we need to learn to get out of our own way and see God in all circumstances.  God doesn’t send us into a storm because He needs to see how our faith-walk is going.  (He already knows.)  He does it because we need to see Him in every circumstance and grow deeper in our reliance – our utter reliance – on the Lord.  He does it because every storm we successfully go through strengthens our faith, steels our resolve to follow God, prepares us for the next storm.  As James wrote:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” – James 1:2-4 (ESV)

Today, I want to encourage you to face the storms in your life with boldness, knowing Jesus is with you and God is in control and through this hardship – no matter what it may be – hold fast to your faith in Christ and let Him be your strength.  Through your faith, God will receive glory.  And that, friends, is why we were created in the first place.

See, son, it’s only a storm.  There’s nothing to be afraid of. Your Father is with you – always.