I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2
I had a dream last night that I was about to paddle a canoe down a river. It wasn't a normal river, it was more like, well, it was kind of like a water park ride, with all kinds of bends and turns and bumps. However, this river I was to navigate was very narrow, and there was no margin for error, because it was also part of a larger body of water. Too far to the left or the right on either side of this river would mean certain doom for myself and my passengers. I had passengers. I had my sister and my son behind me, and as I scoped out the scene before me, I gripped my paddle tightly, and then turned around and gave direction to them. I told them exactly where to sit and how to hang on. Then I turned back around and focused on the task before me. It was important that I get to the end of this run. I took off down the run, expertly navigating the twists and turns, and moving ever so fast. I was running so fast that we were able to glide right over tough parts and we made it to our destination safely and unscathed, it was like a walk in the park.
When I woke up this morning, I looked up these verses in Isaiah, and I kind of smiled at the water parts of it. Because in my dream, while I knew that the situation we were in was very serious, I also had complete confidence. Complete. I knew with absolute certainty that we would make it to the other side, we just needed to go about getting there. And as I wake up this morning and read these verses, the whole thing fills me with such excitement and energy.
The waters in my dreams could really mean anything. They could mean trouble, they could mean a journey, they could mean a trial to overcome. No matter what they mean, though, I know that no matter what may come my way, I will have a confidence in God to give me the knowledge to get to the other side. Because that's what it felt like in my dream. I felt like an expert navigator, like I could read the water and see the exact way we needed to go. So often as we look at out troubles and the trials that come our way, we begin to feel despair, or we wish they would just go away. But the reality is that God has already prepared us for the trials to come.
Think about that. Every trial we go through, no matter how small, is helping to shape who we are, so that we can overcome the trials to come with confidence, and with wisdom from God. So as we face down another trial, another mountain in our walk here on earth, we can move forward with absolute confidence that God has already given us the tools we need to succeed and overcome. That is just so cool to think about! That whatever is is standing before us, we can move forward with utter confidence in our God to get us to the other side. We can paddle out onto the river knowing with absolute certainty that the waters will not sweep over us. God will keep us afloat. And more than that- with complete faith, we can rise above the waters that threaten. We can change our focus, and focus solely on Jesus, and walk right over that water.
"During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
29"Come," he said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Matthew 14:25-30
Peter took his focus off Jesus. I suspect that if He had kept his eyes on Jesus, He would have crossed the water the whole way and maybe even done a little dance on the water. But he lost focus and he looked at the situation around him instead and allowed the physical reality of the situation to command his focus, and he lost his footing. He lost his sureness when he lost his focus, and thus began to sink.
When we focus on Jesus, our trials will be like butter. We will sail through them with ease, and we will also gain the wisdom necessary to help others navigate the trials before them as well. He is with us always and I think if we could really and truly remember that, then we wouldn't struggle so much with the trials. The trials come along, and they stir us up and steal our focus for a while. They rear their ugly head at us, and we become focused on the trouble. Instead, we need to turn our eyes upon Jesus. We need to look beyond our troubles and focus on Him. We can focus on what He is saying to us, and focus on the fact that He literally has our back. He will get us safely through our trials, and we will become more like Him because of it.
With sureness and certainty we can have confidence in our Lord God to provide us with the exact tools we need to navigate any threat that comes our way. We can hold our head high and laugh at the troubles that come our way, because we are overcomers in Him, and through Him.
"In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." Ephesians 3:12