I had a conversation with a friend not too long ago and he so seemed frustrated about life, but not just life, specifically, Christian living; in terms of doing everything he knew to do…fasting, giving, sowing time and money, praying for breakthrough. He hasn’t experienced it yet and is losing faith. I know it all too well. I’ve been there many times but I had to remind him of what keeps me when I go through. I think of the pioneers of the Bible, the disciples, they were often jailed, beaten, treated cruelly and even murdered all for the gospel but what was their response? It wasn’t complaints about why God didn’t come through in their timing, it was praise and worship; even in the tightest of circumstances. Take Joseph for example, he wasn’t crying about his bros selling him, faking his death, being exiled, ruling, accused of rape, lied on, jailed and forgotten. He kept his composure all while having to hold on to the dream God gave him.
There are stories of the Bible that we know or we think we know but a lot of times we read the miracles that were performed and forget the mess they had to endure. For my friend, when his prayers are answered, we may even look back and remember the amazing, jaw dropping outcome but we will likely forget all the hurt he had to fight through to get it. There’s a price to be paid and often times we just see the ‘Paid’ sign but fail to revisit what it took to procure the funds. It reminds me of the Mary Mary song, “God in Me,” there’s a part that says “You don’t know how much I prayed, don’t know how much I gave, don’t know how much I’ve changed, I’m just trying to explain…It’s the God in me…You think I’m so fresh, think I’m so clean, think I’m so sweet…It’s the God in me.” They’re right! We see the end results. They’re clean, fresh, sweet, they have it all together but they are saying you don’t know what happened behind closed doors that afforded all that you see.
We see Him having great compassion on the people who followed Him in the feeding of the five thousand. They all ate and were satisfied by the five loaves and two fish. Miracle! But we also see that Jesus and His disciples were physically depleted “because so many were coming and going that they didn’t have a chance to eat.” Messy realities in the midst of the miracles. (TerKeurst, pg. 161)
I’ve always heard people say that Christ was touched by the feelings of our infirmities. It wasn’t just when He was on the cross that he was betrayed, rejected and laughed at but this was a reality for Jesus. Everyday someone wanted something from Him. He didn’t take breaks. He didn’t use PTO when He was tired. Yes, there were miracles but it wasn’t without mess, unfortunately.
We often times skip the messy parts because we don’t even want to deal with our own so we’ll skip it to see the highlights, who won and to find out about the prize. We usually don’t care about the details and we definitely don’t care about the process. We’ll know the miracles God can perform in our lives but won’t understand our part involves the mess. There must also be balance though, don’t focus so much on the mess that you miss the miracle either. In our own lives, like my friend, he only saw the mess but didn’t understand how a miracle could be birthed out of it. There’s a term called “Stick and Stay,” stick it out and stay with it until your breakthrough occurs. If the breakthrough hasn’t happened then you must stick and stay until it has.
This is the same strategy the disciples needed to use a couple of hours after they fed the five thousand when they were given the instruction to go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida. The storm came, they were helpless and almost missed their miracle, when they thought Jesus was a ghost. Instead of using the strategy and following directions to get to the other side, in Mark 6:47-49, it says that Jesus saw them and His intent was to pass them but they were terrified and cried out. So He calmed them by revealing himself. Then Peter, took it a step further by challenging Him to prove Himself. “Lord, If it’s you then, have me join you on the water.” Since it was Him, He did. Mind you, none of this was Jesus’ plan. His plan was the same, it never changed and you see that, where it says that His intent was to pass them to meet them on the other side. At the end of it all, the most interesting part was Mark 6:52, “for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.” I believe that their hearts were hardened because they didn’t exercise faith. They didn’t trust God in the midst of the storm, they didn’t even recognize His presence and they did everything they could to get out of the task, i.e. Peter walking on water and even in that, Peter doubted. They proved that it’s possible to walk was someone everyday, to see them and hear them and still doubt them. But their hearts were hardened because it wasn’t personal for them. There was no understanding of how to personally apply the instruction to their lives, so nothing changed. Sure, they were informed but it wasn’t personal.
Access without application will not equal transformation…Inspiration and information without personal application will never amount to transformation. (TerKeurst, pg. 163)
Same with us. I’ve heard the acronym for the Bible is basic instruction before leaving Earth. We can be inspired, we can have access to the Word but if we don’t apply the instructions found in the book, we will never change. We will stay the same and wonder what we did wrong in the process. This is something each of us must ask ourselves, “Do we want to change or naw?” It’s really as simple as that. It’s messy to change but it’s the only way to get to the miracle. You can’t skip it.
Only when we seek to apply His revelations to our situations will we experience transformation. (TerKeurst, pg. 165)
I’ll take it a step further, only when we apply the instructions…no time for seeking, cause seeking doesn’t get you change either. Seek the information all you want, you may be informed and may even be able to understand but until you do something with the understanding it’s not action. Action transforms. The flip side to this is confusion. If you do nothing with the understanding you have, it’s a breeding ground for confusion. Please see this, if nothing else, how do you spend quality time with someone everyday for 3 1/2 years and can’t tell whether He’s a ghost or not? Don’t get me wrong, if I seen my friend walking on the water, Imma try to rationalize it as well, but they knew Jesus and witnessed amazing happenings. They knew that He was capable of miracles. Hello, 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, earlier that very day…and we’re not even gonna talk about the countless healings and resurrections they saw!! I’ve never seen any friends of mine do that so why would they think walking on the water was too hard for Him? Even with all of the understanding they had, they became confused and then cried out. Why? because of fear. Let’s look at this equation for a second.
Wow, I can talk about so many things with respect to this. We can talk about the talents, the servant that hid his had no application, confused about what the Master really wanted, feared the Master’s response, so he buried the talent and therefore was banished to outer darkness.
But as I was reading, it was something Lysa said that clipped me up and it really made me think…She said several things but it was two things that kept popping in my head and they were these…
They were terrified. Why? Let’s look at that word terrified as it is used in the scriptures. It’s tarasso, which means to set in motion what needs to remain still.
The context of this was the disciples in the boat when they saw Jesus walking on the water and perceived Him to be a ghost. They were terrified (to set in motion what needs to remain still). Remember Stick and Stay?
…but what is it that has so often led me to this condition? Trading God’s truth for what the world said was a better plan. Resisting God’s promises will make us forget God’s presence. (TerKeurst, pg. 166)
I’m gonna be honest, this made me think of my past as it pertains to sexual sin. I’ve been celibate for quite sometime now but in the past when I wasn’t as strong, it was on and off and when it was off it was definitely because the world had a way of making me think I was missing something. I’m not blaming it on the world because ultimately, it’s my responsibility to stand firm in my beliefs; however, a seemingly small compromise can send you into a stratosphere of sin you didn’t expect. Had I not been terrified (to set in motion what needs to remain still) of missing out on something, I never would’ve had sex outside of marriage to begin with. Sex opens the door for so many unexpected things and when I look back on it, my life would’ve been so simple had I not been willing to listen to the world’s advice or been so willing to “test the waters.” I thought I could put my relationship with God on the back burner and tip toe as if God never said that He would never leave or forsake me. So I took God into that bedroom with me and did whatever I wanted to thinking He was somewhere in a corner with His back turned, eyes closed and ear muffs on. I justified my actions without realizing that I had just set into motion what should’ve remained still. Some nerve I had right?
Like Lysa’s testimony, I had the truth but I hadn’t applied it. You don’t need anyone to tell you it’s wrong but we justify it and before we know it, we no longer have to justify it because it becomes the norm. After all, everyone’s doing it. I didn’t have the strength or the power to not give in to temptation because my mind wasn’t transformed.
How did I transform? First, I’m still transforming, even though I’m not having sex. It’s not a one time thing but the key for me was realizing that God still loved me. I couldn’t fathom that. As disobedient as I had been, all of the sins He’s witnessed me commit and He still loved me? I had to know more about Him but before that I had to forgive myself. I felt dirty and I didn’t know how to stop feeling dirty because I still wanted to have sex and honestly, it wasn’t until I noticed that it was just sex for my sex buddy. He could get up from being with me and not care or even think about me until he wanted something else from me but for me it was a physical expression of how I felt for him; then I was able to give it up. The first week was the hardest but after that it was easier and easier; until the challenge came when I felt I was doing great and would receive the phone call and he’d woo me all over again; only to come back to myself after I offered myself to him. The amazing thing about God though is He did for me what He did for the disciples. I got scared and couldn’t discern His presence but He assured me that it was Him and He got in the boat and calmed the seas. He never left me. He’s not running from our messes. He’s the only one that can actually handle them. The miracle in the mess is that He still loved me, He still forgave me and I eventually was transformed. I’m not the same person I once was.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea, though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fail; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations He has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:1-10)