Fixed Upon Jesus

We all have trials in our lives, and these trials come in many forms; the lack of a job, the lack of money, fear of others, fear of being judged, assorted illnesses, and many others besides.  When we finally get past one trial we are often quickly bombarded by another.

I don’t know about anyone else, but certainly, at times, I have felt like I am overwhelmed and drowning, it seems like the world around me is trying to keep me from peace, to keep me in turmoil.  I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at this, Satan certainly doesn’t want us focused on Jesus, does he?

When these trials come upon me I try to think about the apostles; they were men, and just like the rest of us, they failed, they made mistakes, they were controlled by fear and disbelief, and had to strive hard in times of difficulty.
Often, I ponder upon Matthew 14, particularly on Peter, on how he did what would be considered impossible today, walking on the water to meet with Jesus, on how he then floundered in fear, sinking into the very same waters that a moment ago he was walking on.

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
– Matthew 14:28-30

I compare this to my own walk, in faith I go where Jesus commands me to go, I begin well, trusting fully in Him, walking on the water like it is solid ground; but inevitably something distracts me, moving my focus off Jesus and on to the world around me.  That is when fear, or stress, or worry, begins to set in; that is when I begin to flounder and flail and the solid ground beneath me suddenly becomes a great sea, seeking to swallow me whole.  I could easily give 100’s of examples of these times in my own life, but I know, that you know, exactly what I am talking about.

I have said above that when we finally get past one trial we are often quickly bombarded by another. But that is not entirely true is it?
During these trying times, we often forget about the times of peace and strength we experience in Jesus.  The times we feel invincible and that through Jesus we can do anything.  We forget that on the sea of Galilee Jesus calmed the storm; we often lack in faith. (Mark 4:35-40)

We forget that Jesus leads us by still waters, that He lies us down in green pastures, that His rod and staff are our comfort.  (The rod which keeps the enemy at bay, and the staff which is used to guide us away from danger) We forget that He, is our shepherd and protector, that He is our peace. (Psalm 23)

We forget our need for Him!

It too often seems that it is only when we are drowning that we remember this need and like Peter did, we call out to Him, “Lord, save me!” it is then that without fail we find He is right there, reaching out with an open hand, just as He was with Peter.

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
– Matthew 14:31
Immediately! Isn’t that incredible?  Jesus is immediately there, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Sometimes we may not understand our trials, but we should understand, that through them all Jesus is always by our side. Remember that He supplies our strength and peace, just as He did for Peter, helping him back to the boat.
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
– Matthew 14:32
As disciples we should be striving to keep our focus on Jesus; the reason we flounder, the reason we are drowning, is because we have taken our eyes off Him, we have wandered and forgotten our need for Him.  But it is only in failing, then in recognising we need Him, that we get the perseverance and discipline to keep holding on to Jesus.  It is in failing to hold on to Him and then returning to Him again and again that our faith is increased, as our faith increases, so does our love, joy and peace.
It is when we call out to Jesus that He restores us to the green pastures, brings us back to the still waters, brings back the peace in our lives, even though the trial may still be upon us, we find renewed love for Jesus, and extra strength, perseverance and peace to face it.

We should remember that if we have failed, or are failing, it does not mean we are not loved!  Jesus’ love for us does not depend on us, it is all dependent on Him; Jesus will never let us down and through our failures He shows us His perfection.  He increases our trust in Him so that the next time, we are stronger, we persevere longer, we trust more.

This is increased faith and increased faith equals increased peace in our lives.
This is Jesus taking us and leading us through the process of sanctification, growing and maturing and transforming us. Reminding us who He is.  When we have failed to keep our gaze on Jesus, then returned it back to Him, we remember and recognise who He is.
Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
– Matthew 14:33

I belong to God

A short introduction
My name is Susan Webster. My husband Keith and I call PCF our church home. We were just married on April 7th 2018 in a beautiful garden setting in Arizona at sunset. The pastor performed a covenant wedding ceremony and we promised all of our days to God and one another. Perfect day!
Sounds lovely doesn’t it? And the actual wedding did go like that, however, behind the scenes there was a spiritual battle going on and we knew it! It started a couple months before we left Aberdeen to fly to my home in Arizona to get married. We sat one night after Vijay mentioned being grateful and really listed all God has done for us. I guess you could say we counted our blessings one by one. I know this sounds a little mental but I swear I could feel a change in the environment around me. I prayed a little longer that night.
The next days that followed were a jumbled emotional mess. We fought about stupid things and our stress level with immigration paper work to get my spousal visa, planning a wedding from the UK over video chat, even the death of a friend who did not know God and the humanist funeral that still haunts us. I kept hearing my momma say, “If the devils trying to get you child that means God has ya!”
I was on edge before we got on our flight anyway because it was 10 hours..and I didn’t feel good. By the time we arrived and in the car toward home I had lost my voice and had a raging chest infection…. oh wait it gets better … I had a severe seizure and injured my right foot. It was now twice the size of my other one…. I still needed to wear heels on the day after that!!!

The wedding day was perfect as everyone met my new handsome man in a Kilt. Okay they called it a skirt but … hahaha just joking.

We decided to leave the hotel resort after that one night so I could go to urgent care. As she was giving me antibiotics and wraps my foot and hearing about our crazy wedding week … we get a call that Keith’s step dad was taken by ambulance to the hospital across from where we were, having a stroke! I looked at Keith and he asked, “Are you serious… what is going on?”
We walked in the ER and found him. He was going to be okay. I left the room so he could stay with his mom and found a chapel on the way to the cafe to get coffee. I was waiting on my son in law so I went in.
At this point … I was done! I cried my eyes out and shook my fist and said,”Bring it on!” Then all I could do at that point was ..
like the song says…. I don’t want to think I may never understand how my broken heart was part of your plan…I… like a child fall to my knees and all that comes to me is … Thy Will Be Done! {Hillary Scott}

The rest of the arranged family honeymoon … went pretty uneventful as we travel from Phoenix area to Tombstone Arizona stopping along the way in Tucson just visiting family and ended up with everyone following us and having a blast!!

After Keith got back to Scotland without me as I must get my spousal visa first, we reflected over the craziness and chaos and looked for the lesson we were meant to learn and we have decided that we had just survived a true test of our commitment to God and to each other. We have relied on God’s good graces for so long that when things got tough we felt the spirit of doubt and fear try to penetrate something that already belongs to God … our faith.

We continue to battle but now we know … this too shall pass … keep the faith..

Susan Webster ….💝