Encounter: Take time in your day to find a quiet place, settle your thoughts and read Matthew 14:13-21 and after a few minutes continue reading verses 22-33. Now read Mark 10:27, Ephesians 3:20, Philippians 4:13, Hebrews 11:6, 12:2-4
When I was a young Christian, it was not difficult for me to think about everything being possible for God. The miracle of rebirth in my own soul taught me this and I believed God could heal, restore and order life in a way that brought about His greatest good. Which meant for me that God would make all things go my way. That if I prayed enough, gave enough and obeyed enough, all things would work on my behalf. As my faith journey continued and I experienced struggles, loss and suffering, I began to question what I had so naturally assumed about God. I began to doubt God’s goodness or concern for my well being and I began to draw the conclusion that God wasn’t so much about doing the impossible. I swung the other direction towards a mindset that serving God meant a life of sacrificial suffering and He would use me only to bring good to others with little concern for mine.
Mary shared with Matthew, "our lives are often painful, and so we think life is full of scarcity, not abundance," but faith is about recognizing "times when, out of nowhere, the world expresses a longing to be whole and God steps in and we are drawn out of our blindness."
In Episode 7 and the finale of The Chosen, we see Peter wrestling with something similar. Like Jacob of old, wrestling and yelling at God to not let Him go until he blessed him, Peter cries out to Jesus in the storm, “Don’t let me go!!”
All of the characters in The Chosen series are actually struggling with the same thing, just in different ways. Eden would come to know God carries her in her grief and will renew her. Peter would have his faith strengthened through his disillusionment. Matthew would shed even more of his old self with its shame and embrace his new identity. Little James would keep seeking Jesus even in his weakness.
Our understanding of how God sustains our lives while guiding us to live his ways and will most of the time is not perceived in the moment. We become aware through hindsight and remembering our story in the context of the larger story of God “stepping in” to extend His hand to us.
The maturing of our faith calls us to trust, not only in the miracles but in the times when Jesus tells us, my grace is sufficient for you. My grace will sustain you. There may not always be miracles of the supernatural kind, but the miracle of a God who will not let our foot slip is the “with” us. Our Father will cause the storm to cease. Maybe when we least expect it. So,
We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side[a] of God's throne! So keep your mind on Jesus, who put up with many insults from sinners. Then you won't get discouraged and give up. (Heb 12:2-4)
Our lives are full of times when, like Peter, we take our eyes off Jesus, and we begin to sink and cry out, “Jesus, don’t let me go.” And we see the hand coming down into the stormy water, “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, where is your faith?” I’ve got you! And that my friends is the miracle.
With My Eyes on Jesus,
PS. This Sunday we wrap up our Lenten Series on The Chosen Season 3, what an amazing journey we've had and a beautiful way to end is with more baptisms. Come and celebrate our two young people who have decided to follow Jesus. Let's cover them with our gift of love and support!!
Reflect: Where in your life are you needing to see God's possibilities? Is there a place where you have taken your eyes off of Jesus and taken it into your own hands and you feel like you’re sinking. How can you take a hold of the hand of Jesus, who is always reaching out to you.
Encourage: We give to others what Jesus gives to us. What have you been given that you think is small but may have the potential to be multiplied by God. Can it be this is one thing that may be possible with God? Talk to Jesus about this and wait for a response that makes an impression on your heart. Talk this over with a trusted friend, sharing what you believe you are hearing. Then step out of the boat and respond to the invitation to Jesus in faith.
Gather: Discuss in your small group times when you struggled with keeping your eyes on Jesus. What does it mean to keep your eyes on Jesus? Read through some of the above passages and share what you see. Pray for one another’s faith to be strengthened and sustained through our journey together.