Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Waves.

This past week I had the honor of sharing a devotion with a group of police officer's wives in our community. The room was filled with wives who send their husbands out each day into this broken world to serve our community. I am so thankful for the women and men who faithfully serve our city each day. 

They are the hands and feet of justice, they go into homes, remove children, they deal with drunks on the streets and see the brokenness in our world. Here is the devotion I wrote for them, it is geared towards the fear of their day to day but we all can relate, fear is fear. We are living in uncertain times, fear is creeping up around us all! 

The days following the election were very telling of exactly how broken our world is. People exercising freedom of speech, by tearing each other down, leaving paths of destruction. In the midst of the current events, where do we rest our focus? The world is unstable, there are no guarantees, we can not put any hope there. How do we handle it when fears of the unknown are invading our very homes?

The key to dealing with the unknowns is perspective. The lens must shift, changing how we view this life. The fears don’t go away, they change, shift and intensify during the course of life. They show up as lab results, children, job security, cross country moves and loss.

Often our fears go unnoticed, they are sneaky and quiet. They dwell in the corners of our heart, just stewing. Anytime there is an exterior force pressing us, those fears come out shredding our souls.The key is acknowledging the fear but learning to keep it in its proper place. Fears left unchecked can consume our entire life.

My greatest fears are consumed currently by eight sticky little hands who hold pieces of my heart.The constant ebb and flow, changes, questions, fears, tears, visits and court hearings of foster care endured for two years. We fought the hard battle and in hindsight I didn’t realize just how tired and afraid we were from fighting until the termination came through.

March of this year, the court order finally read termination, the fight was over. The bittersweet reality that the rights of two parents are severed and given to me, the line that once read birth mom’s name, was replaced with mine.

On May 12 we made our adoption final, we stood before the judge and a room full of our loved ones declaring forever to be a family. That was the moment we all sighed relief, nothing would ever separate us. It was that moment that fear was lifted, I know longer feared the call that they would be returned at any moment.

While I have the honor of being the forever mama of my crew of three, we have a fourth, a bio baby sister. Who’s story is still unfolding, she has come and gone twice in our home, we have deeply grieved as a family. The call for her second return to birth mom came the exact same day our adoption was finalized. In the midst of great celebration came the paradox of this life.

On our second last night together, I held her for as long as I could. Fearing the realities of dawn. Fearing sleep knowing time would pass us by and it would be time to say goodbye. Fearing the calls from workers, when their voice is heavy and tone is sullen.

Haunted by the memories of buckling her into her car seat while she screamed, arms outstretched, “mama.” Haunted by the state in which she was returned to our home.

Those are the fears that consume me, the things that I can’t shake. The things that plague me in the stillness of night, each day wondering if she is safe, loved and cherished. At times I am overwhelmed, by the sheer weight of the unknown.

In the darkness of those moments, when the weight is unbearable, there is hope. 

Matthew 14:22-33 (John 6:16-21; Mark 6:45-52)
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.”

Jesus is the source of hope, He is the one who captivates the waves. This is a beautiful picture, an act of trust Peter steps out of the boat. At first he is doing great, looking into the eyes of the one who knows his name, the source of hope. Then Peter notices the waves and in a second he begins to sink below the surface. He cries out to Jesus, seeking his source for hope, security and safety.

The waves will always be there, but we don’t have to give them our attention. The same waves were there when Peter stepped out of the boat. The waves are constant but so is Jesus, He was keeping His eye on Peter. Never losing sight of him, He was ready to reach out, to grab hold of Peter.

Peter was confident, he climbed right out of the boat. Keeping his eyes on his savior, he walked with confidence upon the water. Then his perspective shifted and he saw the waves and he started to sink, the very waves he once was walking on were now consuming him.

He realized he was sinking and cried out to Jesus, who immediately reached out His hand. He pulled Peter to safety, reminding him exactly who He was. The very waves that Peter was walking on, know the name of Jesus and they obey him. Jesus challenges Peter in that moment on his faith, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus knows the power that resides in Himself. He knows the power of His presence, He is the greatest fear stopper of all.

When defeating our fears we must identify them as fears, then we must surrender them to our ever capable Savior. In the presence of God our fears fade away for He has us. I love that instantly upon seeing Him the disciples were afraid but Jesus called out, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Jesus has a beautiful way of consuming us in such a way that you don’t notice the world around you. He becomes the source that keeps our heads above the water. He becomes the very gaze we hold that adjusts the lens allowing us to see it all through a different filter. The key is to look to Him, for when we do, it’s not that the rest doesn’t matter. It’s that the rest of it all fades away.

So when the calls come, the stories are told and the television highlights, we stop take those thoughts captive and trust in the one who walks on the waves. God is not the God who sits distantly observing this all play out. God is here, near to us in our fears, questions and tears. He is the God who sits beside us and cries with us. This world is broken and you in this room know that better than most. His heart breaks, His eyes see and He is redeeming it all, each and everything moment. Evil does not win this war, take heart for He has overcome this world, the victory is ours.

We doubt, we get scared, hurt and nervous. We hear the stories of terrible things and we find ourselves only seeing the waves, consumed by their force. We must get in the practice of stepping out keeping our gaze upon our savior. Taking the steps towards Jesus, with our eyes fixed on Him. The waves will never stop, but rest confidently that when the waves are crashing around us He will find us.

Violence and hate is all around us, this past month national news of police killing has now come to our backyard. Families are being torn apart as so many, spread such hate.

Families of Justin Martin and Sgt.Tony Beminio, two Iowa police officers murdered this month, are grieving this holiday season. While justice has been served the ripple effect of the loss and hate still radiates. Let us pray for the brave men and women who serve our communities, leaving their families each day to protect ours. We are so thankful for your service and dedication. We are praying for the things your eyes see, the burdens your hearts bear and the brokenness you see every day. Thank you. 

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