Friday, September 25, 2015

Who are you looking at?

A few years back while attending the local county fair my brother-in-law came across an old picture. It was of me during my early high school days and as he showed his wife, my husband and my children I was embarrassed.

Though everyone laughed, I hurt as I recalled many negative feelings associated with my looks. What really hurts is they haven’t entirely disappeared over the past 20 years. As a child and teen, I was a tomboy who enjoyed sports and life on the farm much more than fashion, make-up and the latest hairstyles and my picture proved it.

The doubts on the outside weren’t the only ones I recalled as I took a look at who I once was - I recalled the insecurities as well. The picture brought back a statement I’ve said to myself quite often as I’ve journeyed through life, “look at me!”

These words have never been an attempt to catch everyone’s attention, but instead have given me a reason to doubt. Many times I’ve looked at myself and thought I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or worthy enough to do whatever it was someone was asking me to do.

After giving my life to Christ in my early 20’s I caught myself giving the same response to God – “Look at me!! God, You obviously made a mistake; I'm not the girl for the job!"

In the past few years, God has used one of my children’s favorite stories to speak to me. My kids are intrigued with the idea of walking on water and have attempted to do it themselves, but more important than Jesus’ ability to defy nature is the message He has for all of us.

In Matthew 14:22 – 33 the story is told of Jesus walking on water. It begins,“Immediately after this Jesus made His disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake while He sent the people home. Afterward He went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while He was there alone. Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” 

I think we can relate. I know there are times when storms hit my life and it feels as though Jesus is far away. In those moments it can be easy to lose focus and rely on my own strength. It is then that the “look at me” worries, fears and doubts resurface and seem just as powerful as the strong winds and heavy waves.

But we read on – “About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw Him, they screamed in terror, thinking He was a ghost. But Jesus spoke to them at once, “It’s all right,” He said. I am here! Don’t be afraid.” A man walking on water, who wouldn’t be afraid? But Jesus assures them of His presence and the story continues,

Verses 28 and 29 – “Then Peter called to Him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water.” All right come.” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus.” Again can we relate? Have you ever felt God’s presence in your life and by faith reacted to His calling? Like Peter have you jumped out of the boat with complete trust in your Savior who is calling you? Have you taken the initial step of faith only to experience what came next for Peter?

In verse 30 we read, “But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

I read this verse and can picture Peter mentally saying, “look at me” I’m walking on water and then when the reality of the situation hits I see the statement move from being one of confidence to one of fear and doubt. He looks around and sees the danger in the situation coupled with the lack of his own ability to do the very thing Christ told him to do and fear sets in.

As I share this story with my kids, I see myself in this role all too often – God calling me to do something and then in my heart I say yes, but as I survey the situation I too become terrified and start to sink. The “look at me” phrase returns and leads to many excuses in my mind that cause me to sink before my feet even leave the boat.

But as God continues to prove Himself faithful, the final verses of the story carry more power. Verses 31 to 33 say, "Instantly Jesus reached out His hand and grabbed him. “You don’t have much faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” And when they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped Him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.”

How many times has Jesus uttered the same words to me? “You don’t have much faith. Why did you doubt me?” For years I believed doubting myself couldn’t hurt God, but I’ve realized that is wrong. If it is Him who lives in me, when I say "I can’t" who am I referring to? Take a minute and think about that.

As I do just that, I think about our evening at the fair and I recall someone saying, “Well at least you can say your looks have improved.” Perhaps, but more importantly than what’s on the outside is what’s happened internally.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” I’m grateful I don’t see the same person anymore and I’m more thankful that every time I hear the familiar phrase “look at me” I’m beginning to sense God whispering, “No Jill, look at ME.”

Though He has yet to call me out of the boat and literally walk on water, He has asked me to do things I never thought I would do. How does this happen? By keeping my eyes on Jesus. As Peter did this he did the unimaginable – he walked on water! When I focus on Christ, though the winds may blow and the waves rage, He keeps me from falling and proves Himself true. Friends He will do the same for you – keep listening for His voice, you will hear Him say, “Look at ME.”

Who do you see when you look at Him today? What is asking you to do or believe? Remember He is powerful and His power is in you!!

2 comments:

  1. Jill, I love your transparency. You relate a struggle so many of us face. All I know is you are beautiful- inside and out! Seeing Jesus in and through you, it also helps me see my own reflection. I love you!

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  2. This moves my spirit so deeply. What would it feel like to exhilaratingly jump out of the boat and start cruising on water?? You outline so poignantly what can keep us from faith like that. I am in awe of the beauty with which God has fashioned you. So grateful for our newfound connection <3 ps.. totally agree with my sis's comments too.

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