9 February 2021
As we navigate our third lockdown inside of a year, when walking with one other human being has become our only form of social contact, the image of walking with Jesus seems particularly relevant. What does it look like to walk with Jesus in the ordinary, everyday, personal moments? How do we grow in intimacy and rest in His presence more, finding deep joy and truth in this knowing, no matter the challenges of homeschool or furlough, isolation or illness?
I have spent 37 years of my life walking towards and with Jesus. The longer I know Him, the more I love that language: I am walking with Jesus.
Last year, from August to December, I got to step back from my normal rhythms at Creation Fest for some time of intentional leadership development. For the first time in my life, and I got the chance to do something I’ve often spoken about.
I had time to simply enjoy Jesus.
The whole invitation of our lives is simply to enjoy Jesus. To know Him is to love Him, and I’m all about the long, whole life walk towards Him, and the way that our hearts and lives are shaped by this adventure.
As we navigate our third lockdown inside of a year, when walking with one other human being has become our only form of social contact, this image of walking with Jesus seems particularly relevant. What does it look like to walk with Jesus in the ordinary, everyday, personal moments? How do we grow in intimacy and rest in His presence more, finding deep joy and truth in this knowing, no matter the challenges of homeschool or furlough, isolation or illness?
In Matthew’s gospel, we are told the story of Jesus walking on the water:
Matthew 14: 22-32 “Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
In this passage, one of the most interesting and often commented upon realities is that Jesus, the Son of God, the One of miracles and endless strength and power, the One living and walking among us, wholly human and wholly divine, spent time alone in prayer talking to His Father.
Even in lockdown life, ten thousand things can keep us from quiet prayer and attention to God. I find this so often, and I live alone. A quick load of laundry, a check of my Instagram, ping back that email, clean that countertop, reply to that tweet, watch my neighbours and silently judge their pyjamas, and before I know it, my prayer time has been robbed by a whole lot of….nothing.
In this passage, Jesus takes action. He:
And while we aren’t given the exact length of time this involves, we get the sense that it’s a long time, because evening comes and his disciples are far away by the time he rejoins them. It seems that prayer was to him a delight, a way to be lost in the presence of and conversation with Father God.
In this new normal, it may be easier for you to carve out distraction-free time and space to be with God, or it may have become infinitely more complicated. But whatever our circumstances, delighting in the life-giving presence of God restores our soul and reorders our mind. It’s worth making time for.
After this long time of conversation in prayer, Jesus does not remain distant, but immediately re-enters the world of His companions. By this time, they are wondering where Jesus is. The wind is against them. They are being battered by the waves and they are weary and fearful. I spoke to the Bishop of St. Germains last week, and he reminded me that, for the past nine months, we have been told over and over:
You could die any day
Your neighbour is a threat.
The weight of the fear and uncertainty that we carry at this moment is more than we have begun to acknowledge. Most of us have had plans erased and confinements placed upon us, many of us have experienced anxiety, loss, heartache, even death. And whilst this is true of all of life, there is a unique grief to this moment, and we find echoes of that battering in this story of the storm. And into this, Jesus speaks these simple words:
“Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
To our deepest fears, Jesus simply offers us His presence. I have found more of the presence and comfort of Jesus through His Word during this season of my life than ever before. It is one of the sweetest ways that we are invited to know God. Here are three practical ideas to help you engage with Scripture during this time:
In this story, Peter begins to walk towards Jesus – and then he sinks. The winds and the waves, the circumstance in which he finds himself are all too much.
And Jesus reaches out His hand, into the doubts and questions and the sinking of His follower, and calms the storm. Let me be clear; our lives are rarely as straightforward and linear as this story. I find that the versions I live are much messier, much snottier, much more awkward, much slower, much less dramatic and much longer than this one. I can tell you a thousand stories of the ways I have failed but this has been the recurring theme:
Jesus is faithful. In every moment I have been sinking, he has rescued me.
In this story of Jesus and His followers, this leads them to worship. To be clear, worship is not the songs that we sing but the attitude of our heart. Worship is when we choose to say that we hold no other gods before our God (and idols will always break the hearts of their worshipers). Worship is when we choose to fix our whole attention on Jesus. Here are three practical ways that I choose to worship:
I’ve been walking with Jesus for 37 years. Like most of us, I have never experienced a year like this one, but every single day I set my mind to learning to love Him more. My prayer for you at this time is this: that whatever you have walked through this year (or are still walking through right now), that you would know the presence and intimacy of Jesus in the places of your greatest joys and your deepest fears, and that you would bend your heart to worship Him with your whole heart regardless, every, single day.