Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dare to Walk on Water

Confidence. One foot placed in front of the other with a resolve, a purpose, a hope, a passion. A list of goals representing decisions, not plans. Speech marked by discretion. A heart willing to take all consequences, no matter the costs. The ability to ground oneself in the truth of another and squash self-doubt. A smile challenging those who dare to investigate the present and past. Poise and steadiness shroud footsteps and shelter emotions. Is this you? I mean, is this really you? Can you honestly stand before me and say that this is your walk, your identity every second of every day, no matter what comes to pass?

I think not. Do not get me wrong here; I have no desire to bring your self-assurance crashing down or discourage you with this. But, in order to truly build a structure with the correct building code and to withstand the weather conditions, you have to start with a strong, solid foundation. And truly, not many of us start with this kind of foundation in regards to our self-assurance and confidence. Instead, we glean our foundation from our pasts, our friends, our families, our teachers, our homes, and our bosses. We forget Who really gave us life, gave us grace, gave His life so that we may live in confidence! I have seen so many confident people with wonderful jobs, beautiful homes, and amazing families; yet, when the fire burns the roof over their heads, when it spreads to consume the comfort of their marriages, and when it ignites their steady income, their confidence is shattered, lying scattered all around them. They no longer have the strength to pick up the shards nor do they have the ability put them back together. They lost the very thing that defined who they were: confident.

Now, I am not talking about pride here, though they do correlate with each other. There is a distinct difference between the two. Healthy and God-fearing people have pride in what He has done and what He will do. They are confident in His existence and His promises and this enables them to have pride in Who He is. Unhealthy pride festers far before confidence is developed, and therefore, relies entirely on the support of others. Not only will the foundation eventually give out, but it will give out completely when it does, shattering one's life. Godly confidence is not unlike faith; the similarities seem endless because you cannot be confident in what you do not fully believe. And faith, by definition, is the belief of something despite the lack of evidence and proof. There are just some things in this life that we will never know, never will understand. Therefore, we need to have faith. Once the foundation of faith and complete trust in the Lord can our ability to have a firm and trustworthy confidence even become a possibility.

Confidence is not a mystery, folks. The ability to bask in its lime light lies right in front of you. You just need to quit looking in all the wrong places. You know the saying that some people just cannot find the right solution until they have tried all the wrong ones? Guess what? The Lord blows that statement right out of the water because He gives you the right solutions all throughout His written word! Yet, we are still found chasing our tails and trying to build ourselves up through other means. Get over your need to go somewhere quickly and just let the Lord do it in the right way within you. Think of when Jesus walked on water. Peter stepped out of the boat, a faith and confidence exploding from his very being as he walked toward Jesus, knowing the waves would hold him as they did his Lord. Yet, his focus slipped, doubt undermined his confidence, and he slipped below the waves. Here is the amazing part though: Jesus went and picked him up and out of the waters. So many people look at Peter as the heart of the story when they think of confidence and faith because he was the one that dared to step out of the boat. But, did you ever think that maybe the punchline of the whole story wasn't Peter stepping out of the boat, but it was Peter getting fished out of the water?

See, confidence falters in real life. It is not a light that burns steadily and never goes out. It will flicker, and it will test you. You cannot just become confident; you build it over a life time. Yet, every time your faith, your confidence in the Lord, falters and you slip below the waves, God will fish you out! He will hold you above the waters and let you gasp in your needed air. Then, He will smile and go "Want to do it again?" That, my friends, is true confidence. It is the ability to trust and know that He will pick you back up. It is the ability to know that you can try again, have the same result, and still be picked back up. It is the ability to repeat the routine fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a million times and still know He will pull you back above water. Confidence is not thinking you will never fall, walking in a life where your decisions are perfect. Confidence is knowing that you will fail, you will slip, you will appear to be drowning, but knowing you will have the opportunity to do it again, and again, and again.

Furthermore, confidence is not based on this life or its promises. The Earth is unstable, shaky, deceiving, and would love nothing more than to have you trusting its whisperings. Society and culture exist amidst the devil and his deceiving lies. He loves to build false confidence in people. The Lord offers a way out. The Lord promises that He will return and conquer the world. He will triumph over the devil and his servants in the end. How, then, can we view this life as anything more than a building and honing experience? We know Who will win. We know Who will live on forever and ever. We know Who will take us home when it is time. What more do we need to know in order to live this life in full confidence, in full trust, in full faith? Our human natures may tell us we need money or we need food or we need a home to truly have a walk of confidence. But, He, our Father in Heaven, provides for even the smallest of birds so that they have more than enough. God will do the same for you; He will not abandon you in the midst of life. Again, I ask. . . what more do you need?

Do not waste your life in chasing after a confidence that breaks every time you make a wrong turn. Do not waste your life in chasing after a foundation that will only collapse one day on you. God has shown you the right solution; pursue it. Trust Him; hold His truth closer to your heart than anything else; dare to walk on water. Believe me, confidence, true confidence, does not begin until you step out of the boat. Do it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Letter from Caleb (Numbers 13)

Numbers 13:30: "Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."

Dear Reader:

The rhythm of the wind hummed its awakening tune as my eyes fluttered open to greet the sunlight's caressing heat and welcome. With a smile curling upon the corners of my mouth, I took a deep breath of the amazing, life-giving air. I shifted my weight slightly as I became subdued to the expansion of my lungs. My eyes sought to take in the individual droplets that hung on the grass blades around me, the tiny insects that continued about their normal tasks, the dirt particles that steadied and protected the roots of the surrounding vegetation; I wanted to see His fingerprints, His awesomeness in even the smallest creation.

Slowly and deliberately, I rolled to my side and pushed myself off the ground. The imprint of my form dented the perfection found within the blades of grass, and I sighed at the sight; I knew the blades would once again reach towards the sun, but for the time being, they looked injured and pressured by the weight of what had burdened them for the past so many hours. I felt for the grass, for it mirrored my heart at the moment. This land, the same land I have been gifted with the privilege of exploring, carried beauty, eloquence, magnificence, and richness I had never seen the likes of before. The crops grew to heights that seemed to reach the sky with strong and steady stalks and stems supporting the fruits of their labor. The grapes hung in breath-taking abundance upon the vines of the vineyards that scattered the landscape. The juice simply filled every inch of the mouth with a desire that could not be quenched. Even the flowers displayed a wide arrange of color and shape. How amazing and simply divine the Lord reveals Himself to be. He made every piece of this, only to loan it to humans like myself.

The dizziness refused to dissipate from the presence of my mind. Taking a deep inhale of sweetly-scented air, I forced myself to embark upon my journey for the day. I knew not where I was headed; I only knew that my feet would carry me upon the roads and fields I was destined to travel. The dew droplets slowly evaporated from my rough clothing and fell from my hair as it swayed in the gentle breeze. My heart was already warming up and filling with praise. My sight strayed towards the Heavens and my whisper echoed in the solitude: "Thank You, my Lord. May Your hand guide me through the expanse of this day’s journey." I did not expect or know of the surprises and challenges He would reveal to me this particular day. Nonetheless, I trusted in His power and His plans; all I had to do was walk.

My feet padded the well-worn road before me. The few passersby cast weary glances my way, but I did not let them burden me. My eyes traveled up and down their forms: the muscles massively formed, the hands larger than my own, the mere height of them that made me appear to be only a child! Could it be? God had created these beings with such ferocity and smoothness at the same time. I could feel the seed of fear and worry weaving its way into my original excitement, but with great care, I shook it from me. Why should I be shocked and afraid of these massive humans? Did not God create and form them with His very hands? If He breathed life into them, surely He could destroy them just as easily.

The pounding of my heart quieted as I reached the grain fields ahead. My eyes swept the plains, catching only a glimpse of the sheer masses of food He had blessed this land with. The end of the field met a towering wall. I craned my neck as I tried to see the top of the walls. A slow gasp escaped my lips as the gate swung open; the question posed to me by the guard barely registered in my mind as I slipped through the opening, feeling as small as an ant in the menacing fortress I had stumbled upon. The streets weaved in between the buildings, all formed with delicate and intricate stone work. The people of the town shuffled in and out of entrances, carrying a plethora of items and goods. The enticing scent of food reached my nostrils, but I dared not satisfy my desires for fear of missing just the tiniest bit of detail.

The sun was setting upon the horizon, filling the skies with a vast array of colors and layers. I left the city and sought my bedding for the night. A small cave presented itself in a matter of a moment. Tears dripped from my eyes and cascaded down upon my cheeks and neck. My knees hit the cave floor below me as I sought to comprehend all that I had witnessed, all that I had experienced. I could feel the doubt and the fear hanging like a threatening cloud upon my heart, but I cast it away with a single swipe of my hand. I knew He was great. I knew He was all-powerful. I knew He was mighty. I knew He was truthful. I knew He would give all He had promised. The sights, smells, and textures of the land flooded my mind as I thought of Him. The only reason they were there was to magnify Him and glorify Him. I had seen the delicate and the powerful; I had seen the good and the bad; I had seen a land full of His fingerprints. With that thought, my eyelids blacked out the night sky and my heart rested in peace, knowing that the Lord would be with me and His people for the battles to come within this land.

In Him,