As I was working (sort of) around my place Saturday I stepped into one of the deceptive areas that are found scattered around our property. I thought it looked dry enough but quickly discovered it was not, it was soft and wet and marshy. Almost immediately the words, “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” came to mind. I kind of laughed to myself and thought, this is more like what my life has been like. Looks like solid ground, looks like it will be or is good and then…it’s not.
And then, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart. My heart that has been so heavy and dealing with so much grief. You’ve been trying to build on what looks like solid ground. You have been the one to determine what looks solid, safe, and secure. You have been the one to decide what to build and where to build. Christ isn’t in what looks safe to you. Christ the Solid Rock is found through the cross and the grave. He is out of the boat, on the water. Do those look like places to call safe, secure, are those the places you would choose to build your life upon?
When Peter stepped out of the boat and onto the water, it was as if he stepped out of the boat and onto land. Because Christ called him to be there, it was solid, firm and secure. Only when Peter took His eyes off Christ did it become unsafe. Christ was still on the water. Peter didn’t doubt that Jesus was there. Didn’t doubt Jesus’ ability to control the wind and waves. Peter just began focusing on the wind. The very real wind that had been giving them grief while they were in the boat, causing them fear and exhausting them. Peter began to look at the wind, at his current circumstances and he began to sink.
11 years ago this Good Friday, April 14th my youngest brother, Matthew, died, suddenly and very unexpectedly. One day everything was as it should be and then the next we are standing by his bed in the ICU watching as the machines stop giving his body life. I swear I felt the ground crumble beneath me. It took me years to get to a place of being “ok” with the Lord. I never doubted He alone was Lord, I just didn’t think He was a very loving or good Lord, I felt that He had most certainly left me and had forsaken me. Not just me, but my brother and my family. We were waiting on Him to rescue us and to bring us the miracle I knew He could bring. I was waiting to walk on the water with Him. Instead, we were present as all life left and time of death was pronounced. And I began to sink.
Looking back to that time I really identified with the parable of the person who builds their house on sand versus the person who builds on the solid foundation (Christ). When my brother died I found myself in the midst of the worst storm I could imagine and my house, built upon sand, crumbled. Beyond repair. 11 years later as I am preparing my heart for this time of intense memories and emotions, I find that all through these past 11 years I have tried to rebuild my house on “solid ground”. Each time I think I’ve gotten in the right place, another storm arrives. Each storm I think I’ve learned and survived and surely, that will be the last “worst” storm ever. Everything that I thought and everything I “knew” to be solid and true and trustworthy has proven to not be any of those things. Each time I feel like the ground crumbles beneath me and I find myself crying out to the Lord to save me.
I asked the Lord how I am ever supposed to build my house on the one true “Solid Rock” when I keep getting confused, I think I am building my house on Christ alone and then the storm comes…. The Lord has been so kind and loving, strong and faithful…He whispered to my heart, my heart that is so heavy, sad and broken, that has been ravaged by storm after storm after storm….”Just because the storms come and you place your eyes on the winds, doesn’t mean you aren’t still in the water with Jesus.” And I felt a peace wash over me, I’m in the water with Jesus. Even if I am sinking in this very moment…I am IN THE WATER WITH JESUS. I’ve always envisioned the Lord being disappointed in me for feeling the storms, for not building in the right place, for not being on the Solid Rock, for feeling like I am sinking, for the anguish and fear that wash over me. After each storm I have been resolved to get it right this time. This last couple of years the storms came so fast and strong I feel like I never got a chance to rebuild.
His kindness and love whispers to my heart, He is not disappointed. He sees and knows and understands the storms that come. He has called me and I have left the boat. Just like Peter, there are times it feels like solid ground and there are times I’m sinking, nevertheless, I am in the water, with Jesus. He isn’t disappointed with where I am or that I got it wrong, again. He isn’t disappointed when I begin to sink. I believe He wishes I would always have the faith to keep walking on water. But I know, now, that it isn’t disappointment. I think His heart hurts with mine, I think He hates that the storms came and drew my eyes away from Him but I also think He is proud as any Father can be that I am in the water with Jesus.
There is no house built that can ever be more solid than being with Jesus. He is the one who says, come and He is the one who saves and He is the only, eternally faithful, Savior. He alone can make wind tossed waves solid for me to walk on…to Him. No matter the storm, no matter how much or often the ground feels like it is crumbling, no matter if the winds scare the life out of me, no matter if I think there is no way to survive, to make it through, no matter how much I feel like has been taken, shattered, no matter how many storms come, I have left the boat and I am in the water with Jesus, He has called my name and when I call upon His, He is faithful to save.