Walking on Water – My Reflection on a Crisis of Faith

I sit this morning, praying for my husband. He is taking “the biggest test in his life” – an exam at work for which he has been preparing the last two years. I can’t help but reflect to the moment over six years ago when we were sure he wasn’t even going to get the job, much less be where he is today. God has been so faithful.

Below is a post I wrote a few years ago reflecting on that moment that I’d call one of my biggest crises of faith. I hope this encourages you if you find yourself in struggling against the winds and waves of seemingly hopeless circumstances.Bridge Tower B&W

Walking on Water

When the phone rang, I was filled with nervous anticipation. My husband was searching for a job after his second layoff, and he had just taken a test for the one company that could keep us in Russellville with all of our family. I was so hopeful for good news.

After all, at the moment, pain was all around me. I was in a Florida hotel room accompanying my mother-in-law to her step-father’s funeral. This sudden death added to the pain our family was experiencing with my father-in-law’s fight with cancer. I was so hopeful that this phone call would bring a light to our darkness.

But my hopes were shattered as soon as I heard Matt’s voice. He didn’t know the results, but he was sure he didn’t pass. In that phone call, our hopes for staying in our hometown, being near our family, and building our home, were slipping away.

I went to take a shower before the visitation, and I couldn’t help but sob and sob. I didn’t understand. Why were all these things happening at once? Why couldn’t we have gotten some good news? Had God forgotten about us? Did he still have a plan? Why did he seem so silent? At that moment, the faith I had worked so hard to maintain over the months was crumbling.

And there I was. With nothing else left to cling to. Except the one thing I couldn’t let go of.

Thankfully, in the midst of it all, I couldn’t forget Who my God is. I couldn’t forget his promises. His character. His love. His provision. I learned that when I fixed my eyes on him, and him alone, the circumstances around me seemed to get dimmer in the shadow of his light.

What I experienced in my heart that day is what I think Peter experienced when he walked on the water with Jesus.

“‘Come,’ [Jesus] said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:29-30)

According to the first part of this verse, Peter walked on the water with no problem. He had his eyes on Jesus. The reality of his circumstances – the fierce wind and waves – were not a question in his mind at that point. All that mattered was that he saw Jesus, he was walking to Jesus, and he trusted Jesus.

But then things changed. Peter became aware of his reality. Most translations of this verse I read say that Peter “saw” the wind. If Peter saw the wind, then his eyes weren’t fixed on Jesus. They were fixed on his circumstances, and he panicked. He found himself sinking.

One interesting thing to note is that the wind didn’t stop when Peter was walking on water. The difference in his condition was where his eyes were fixed. When they were fixed on Jesus, his circumstances didn’t change. The wind was howling and the waves were threatening. But because his eyes were on Jesus, he didn’t sink.

Similarly, when we fix our eyes on Jesus, our circumstances don’t automatically improve. Jesus doesn’t always calm the storm immediately. But when our focus is on him, our perspective changes. He gives us the strength to overcome, and he walks us through it. Then, in his time, and whether it be in this life or in Heaven, Jesus will take us in the boat and the wind will stop.

A few weeks after Matt took his test, he got a letter that he – miraculously – passed his test and eventually got the job. Jesus had taken us into the boat and this storm had calmed.

But I will never forget that day when the wind and waves were so fierce that all I could do to keep from sinking was look to my Jesus.

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In the Rearview Mirror: Longing for Change

In the Rearview Mirror is a reposting of blogs I wrote 5 years ago, during a particularly challenging season of my life.

beach # 003When he said, “Just relax,” I wanted to clock him.  You’d think after 8 years of marriage my husband would know that “Just Relax” is the last thing I want to hear when anxiety overwhelms me.

It was not an uncommon Sunday night, when I tend to struggle more than any other time.  This particular night seemed worse than other ones, though.  My temper was flaring and my will was losing the battle against this depression threatening to overtake me.

The next morning, true to my routine, I fought my “Monday morning blues” and got my coffee at 5:30 and opened the Bible.  For some reason, I felt steered toward a familiar passage in Philippians that always intrigued me.  It talks about how Paul had learned the “secret” of being content no matter the circumstances.  In the past I could never really wrap my mind around the kind of contentment that Paul talked about.  But this morning was different.

As I read over this passage, I began to consider the source of my discontent.  It was in a particular area of my life that I wanted to be changed.  It would be a change that would glorify God; I was simply waiting for his timing.  Surely, I thought, once God brings about this change, I will be content.  I will have peace and joy. 

That’s when it hit me.  The source of my contentment can’t lie in my circumstances, even if my ideal circumstances involve something that would be glorifying to God.  The source of my contentment must lie in God and God alone.

My “ideal” circumstance still doesn’t promise contentment.  Likely, I would struggle with some of the same things I struggle with now.  That’s why I realized the true state of my heart must be content in God alone.  In Jesus’ sacrifice that paid my debt.  In his overwhelming love for me. In his forgiveness.  In the fact that he does have a plan for my life.

But even that perfect plan doesn’t promise the peace and joy I long for.

Only God and my heart fully committed to resting in him will bring true joy and peace.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12).


Thoughts from today:  The season during which this was written, I was working a 50-hour-per-week job while juggling a toddler and family.  It was a particularly difficult time in my job, as I worked at a new car dealership during the peak of the automobile sales recession.  I also longed to write.  Even though I’m much closer to that which I longed for then, I’ve learned that the true source of contentment doesn’t change.  If we believe that contentment is found in circumstances, we will constantly be chasing the next thing. But if we understand that lasting contentment is found in Christ alone, circumstances cannot change the incomparable satisfaction he provides.

Are you longing for change and struggling with contentment?