Well, yesterday was quite a full and, in some ways, hard day which is why I am writing this entry one day late.
On Wednesday we had decided to leave the health spa a few hours early after Annie was beginning to feel very sick. We were told by the radiologist that due to the radiotherapy focussing on her lower back, it was possible that her insides would feel the effects and begin to act in the way insides do when they get all sensitive and upset!
This made the whole of yesterday and last night feel like a stormy boat ride with Annie’s old and most unwelcome companion, nausea. And as nausea does, it has come in waves. Like the old poem about the little girl with a little curl (hopefully some of you remember it!), when Annie was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid – health-wise! In the evening she was able to join me on a small trip up to Birmingham Airport to pick up a dear friend, Anna, from the Czech Republic who will be staying with us for a week. But on the ride home nausea struck again and she began to feel woozy. By the time we had got home, she had started to pick up again.
This morning Annie was experiencing the sickness again and I called up the hospice nurse who recommended that the visiting GP come out to see Annie. We thank the Lord that the doctor on call that day happened to be Annie’s GP, who is really caring and takes Annie’s health and needs not only seriously but with great sympathy and sensitivity. We were so thankful to the Lord that this was the doctor on call because you feel like you have to start from scratch with other doctors. Annie has been prescribed a couple of options to help deal with the sickness and right now, I can hear Annie laughing with Anna as they play Skip-Bo. I know Annie and I would love it if Grammy and Gramps could come and join them around the card table!
Meanwhile, we await another visitor, our cousin Doug from the US, who arrives tomorrow. We really have prayed that the Lord would give Annie health to enjoy Anna’s and Doug’s visit. Please continue to join us in that prayer. When we had spoken about the arrangements a few weeks ago we had both prayerfully decided that whatever the state of health when our visitors arrived, we would ask the Lord for the S,P,J and H to glorify Him come what may. We both know that there may be times in life when we need some alone time, but we also feel it is easy to hide life away or behind a mask when times are hard, whether that be financially, physically, spiritually or something else. Whatever befalls, we trust that the Lord gives not only the S, P, J and H that we need but that He is made all the more evident and present through our weaknesses.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the account from the gospel of Matthew when Jesus walks on water. You may remember that one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter (who else would it be!) decided to ask Jesus for permission to alight the boat in order to meet Him on the water. In my mind, this must have taken incredible faith for two reasons…
Firstly the account tells us that the disciples were not even sure it was Jesus! They were terrified and thought it might be a ghost! Even when Peter asks he seems to be uncertain at first:
“Lord, if it’s you…tell me to come to you on the water.” – Matthew 14:28
Secondly, Peter was asking to do something which is physically impossible! He was asking permission to get out of a boat, which was a considerable distance away from the land, and to join Jesus, standing on the water! Peter was a fisherman, not a physicist nor a marine biologist, but he knew as well as them all, when humans get out of a boat, on deep water, they sink, or swim. They don’t stand or walk, in his words “on the water“. That is enough of a faith feat in and of itself!
In the following moments, Peter’s gaze of faith on Jesus’ face and command to leave the boat and come, has him walking on water…right up until the moment his flesh tells him that those chemistry and physics teachers knew what they were talking about! Peter’s faith in Jesus has him do the impossible; Peter’s flesh however, has him drowning in fear.
I love how my Jesus responds.
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:31
The very first thing He does is show practical love. He doesn’t preach at Peter while he gasps and flaps like a fish out of (or rather, on the) water. He reaches out immediately and saves Peter from drowning. Then He lovingly rebukes Peter. We think Peter had great faith, but Jesus calls it little faith. Faith isn’t something you do once, or up to a point. Faith persists. Faith continues to gaze on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1). Faith continues to meet with God’s people, around God’s Word whatever the storm, whatever the distractions around us, be they attractive or destructive.
When the hours are stormy, just like recent days, we desire and determine to just keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. As His disciples we don’t need to weigh up the threat level of whatever seeks to distract us. We keep our eyes fixed on Him. We read the bible and hear His voice and remember His love, His promises, His commands.
I just love how that passage in Matthew ends.
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” – Matthew 14:32,33
Despite Peter’s unfinished, unpolished (even little) faith, Jesus is still glorified. Jesus does as He promises in Matthew 17:20 and takes faith even as small as a mustard seed and does something great with it.
Honestly, sometimes we are distracted. Sometimes it is really hard not to take our eyes off Him because in our peripheral we see storms; and our flesh tells us that they are too big and too menacing to ignore. No matter how unfinished or unpolished our faith sometimes is, Jesus if faithful and never takes His eye, His Hands, His heart off us. And that, is truly comforting.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2
Fixing our eyes on our Jesus,