I don’t like admitting fault or failure, but there’s this one thing I’ve had to repeat multiple times because I just can’t get it right. It’s like God is sitting up in heaven saying, “You can do this! I know you’ve got it in you. Just take this test one more time.”
It’s the test of first choice. God is working on me to turn to Him before I turn to anyone else. Anyone. Any one person or any one thing.
I have this temptation- yes, temptation- to find affirmation in the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others before I find them in Him. And do you know what that does to a Jesus girls heart? It makes it weary, discouraged, anxious and sometimes a little snarky. Just saying. Basically, it makes me full of pessimism when I should be full of peace. It’s the temptation to push Jesus aside and push through something myself and I can tell you, it always ends awful.
Mark 4:35-41 (NLT)
As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. 38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
The first words that Jesus said should have been enough: Let’s cross to the other side of the lake. Simple, right? They had a plan: a starting point, a destination and the in between. He clearly told them where they were going and they confidently got into the boat. It’s what took place on the way there that became anything but simple. A storm came. And with that storm came all the tensions that a storm can bring: fear, anxiety, hopelessness, fault finding, and the reminder that the elements were out of their hands. I don’t know what’s scarier, the actual storm or the thought that they weren’t in control.
Sometimes storms are from the enemy. They are meant to destroy our hopes, dreams, faith or even our lives. We get on the boat and expect smooth sailing. After all, the plan is to get from here to there, right? The enemy loves to work through expectations. It's his jam. But...
Sometimes storms are strategic. God uses them to show us where our heart goes first when we hit choppy waters. Not only was Jesus on the boat, but so were some very skilled sailors. Sailors know how to read the weather when a storm is coming. They see it in the clouds, feel it in the winds and a storm of this magnitude builds. Do you know what that means?
Jesus wasn’t their first choice.
- He wasn’t their first choice when the clouds rolled in and grew dark.
- He wasn’t their first choice when the winds picked up and the boat started rocking.
- He wasn’t their first choice when the rain started to fall.
They leaned into each other, they leaned into their equipment, they leaned into their own knowledge, but they didn’t turn to Jesus until it became a raging storm.
And I just have to pause here and say: yeah, me too. I do that too. I’m so guilty.
I phone a friend, send a text, ask for prayer and even dig up a scripture before I simply go to Him and say, “Hey Jesus. I’m really afraid right now. Can you speak to that?”
And do you know what happens? Anxiety floods my soul when He’s not my first choice.
I become afraid of failing. I become afraid of being a failure. I become afraid of not making it to my destination. I become afraid I’m not enough. I forget who's in my boat.
Confidence and peace are not dependent on my circumstances, they’re dependent on my choices. When He’s my first choice, peace abounds. He reminds me that we are going to get to the other side. And here’s the crazy thing: when He’s my first choice, I learn to appreciate the thunder, lightning and all the in between. In fact, I even see where the strong winds and rising waters can actually get me where I’m going, faster. They tend to give me a little push that still waters can’t accomplish.
What’s that saying? A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.
He’s my first choice.