That’s my grandson Asher standing at the very edge of the Grand Canyon. I start taking real shallow breaths as I look at this photo. Grab me a brown paper bag, I think I am hyperventilating. Such a brave 9 yr old! My daughter wouldn’t let Lucas venture out to that rock. She is a very wise mom.
Sometimes I feel like I am on the edge of that cliff. The events in my life seem to have blown with hurricane force and have pushed me right to the very edge.
Jesus changed Simon the fisherman’s name to Peter. “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Matthew 16:18 I wonder. I wonder when Jesus named him Peter, did Peter remember the time crossing the lake, fighting the heavy waves, and seeing Jesus walking on water? Did he remember Jesus calling him out of the boat to walk on water with Him? Did he remember taking his eyes off Jesus and the waves enveloping him and nearly taking him under into the shadowy depths of the sea? Did he remember the hand of Jesus firmly grab him and lifting him above the waves? Did he remember the look in Jesus’ eyes as he asked him, “You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?” I wonder when Peter heard his name changed to “The Rock,” did he scratch his head and say, “Your kidding right?”
Again grab me a brown paper bag. I feel the hyperventilation coming on. I read this passage and I know the feeling of the waves about to take me under. The disciples once found themselves in another fierce storm. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
“Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
Yep been right there with you buddy. I identify with their reaction. You should see me in a panic situation. I start shouting also. You bet I would be waking Jesus up in this storm, and it wouldn’t be with a gentle nudge either. Peter was in this boat at this time. Again facing fierce waves. His name was still Simon at this point. Did Peter remember that storm as he heard Jesus christen him with his new name “Rock”?
I scratch my head and ask these questions because I look at my life and my reaction to pressure situations and I see anything but rock like characteristics. When Jesus made this bold statement about Peter, they were traveling through desert terrain. In my mind I picture the boulders and rocky plataues that surround the Grand Canyon. The rock Jesus was referring to looked something like the strong sturdy rock Asher stood on at the edge of the Grand Canyon. This rock is an element that can not crumble about even under severe pressure.
I can’t get that definition out of my head. An element that can’t crumble even under severe pressure. Do you know how diamonds are made? Most natural diamonds are formed at high temperature and pressure at depths of 140 to 190 kilometers in the earth’s mantle. Carbon-containing minerals provide the carbon source, and the growth occurs over thousands of years. (I looked that up. You gotta love wikipedia.) That whole diamond process is my point of this post. I want to be that diamond in the rough for Jesus. I want Him to see inside of me and mine a diamond. I want him to rename me “The Rock.” Why not? I have had the same reactions Simon had in pressure situations. I have asked multiple times throughout my walk with the Lord, “Teacher, don’t you care that I am about to drown?” I cannot tell you how many times I have taken my eyes off Jesus and focused on the violent waves raging all around me. Yet still…. As I type those words I just want to scream “Yet still!!!!” There is a hand that reaches out to me as I feel the waters rising.
How do we become an element that won’t crumble under pressure situations? How do we stand so confidently at the cliff’s edge when the hurricanes of life have pushed us there? No really, I’m asking. What do you say when your good friend is so broken because her 3 yr old grand niece just got the report that the rounds of chemo did nothing to attack the neuroblastoma tumors throughout her body? What do you say when those you love look to you for answers when it seems as if God’s help is not soon forthcoming? What do you say when Christians who just want to love and serve the Lord find themselves swirling in a mist of lies and slanders? When innocent little children are put into foster care? Life is real. Life is hard. People are faced with impossible situations. They ask difficult questions. How do we as the body of Christ, the church, (UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH AND THE GATES OF HELL WON’T OVERCOME!) how do we not crumble under these pressure situations? How do you become an overcomer when you feel as if you are anything but? Really I’m asking you guys to respond back!
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego once said this as they faced a fiery furnace with their hands tied behind their backs, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. but even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Jesus definitely mined a diamond out of these three as he walked around with them in that blazing furnace.
My answer to the above question. “This time I will praise Him.” This time I will count my many blessings and name them one by one. This time I will recall all the answers to the prayers I have called out to God. This time when I miss my dad and long for his advice, I will sing “Death has been defeated! It has been swallowed up by the empty grave! Hallelujah!” Another faith lesson I have learned from watching Landry play football through out the years… Listen to praise and worship songs with noise canceling headphones. All of us face pressure situations everyday in our respective jobs. Our situations are no different than Landry’s. I think of the generals in our military in charge of sending young soldiers to fight battles that take lives. That’s a pressure situation. It is just that Landry’s pressure filled job is displayed for millions to view. I can’t speak for Landry. I am not in his shoes out there as he looks across the line at a 300 pound defensive lineman staring back at him, knowing all the while that look in this lineman’s eyes is the same look as a ravenous lion. I don’t know how Landry keeps his thoughts together and calls out signals and recognizes coverages with this much pressure boiling down on him. I can only speak for myself as his mom. I know what I have done when I watch my son be the field general. “Yet I will praise Him!” It is better than taking a Xanax. When you are at Seminole Stadium in Tallahassee Florida and the down position is third and twenty-eight, you feel the Seminole war chant rising up through the bleachers, through your feet and start speeding up your heart beat… “Yet I will praise him!” I can’t hear the war chant because I am listening “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!” I can’t see my son facing this pressure backed deep in Seminole territory where the war chant raged the loudest cuz I have my eyes closed, praying like Hannah prayed when Eli thought she was drunk. Then I feel the war chant stop and the Sooner nation erupt and high fives are flying all around me because the Sooner’s have moved the chains in an impossible situation. Yet I will praise Him! When your son’s team is loosing at half-time to Texas A&M in Aggieland and not many completions happening, and you hear the song, “Lord You Light Up the Skies,” and you pray God help Landry light up the skies, then Landry connects with Kenny Stills for a touchdown… This time I will praise Him! I ask the Lord while walking around Jacksonville Jaguar Stadium, “Lord please let Lander throw a touchdown pass. It has been a couple of years now.” Then I hear a worship song, “Women of God rise up make a sound there is about to be a breakthrough in the heavenlies!” So I think why not. I start stomping my feet and shouting, “God you are good!!!” Then I hear the announcer shout, “Landry Jones first NFL touchdown.” God you are good. I tell people all the time, “I have a love hate relationship with football season.” Kevin and I lean with each play hoping to tip the scales. Kevin runs through my gold carpeted living room stiff arming the air like he is Martavis Bryant. Kansas City Chiefs are right around the corner for us. Still not sure whether Landry will get the nod. Kevin keeps telling me the Chiefs lead the league in quarterback sacks… “THE GOD WHOM I SERVE IS ABLE TO DELIVER LANDRY! GOD WILL RESUE HIM FROM THE CHIEFS POWERFUL LINEMEN” But no matter what… “This time I will praise Him!”
I want to stand at the edge of the cliff and be able to face my storms, though conflicts threaten to tear my heart apart, I want to stand as confidently on my Rock as Asher is in this photo. When I learn family members are facing medical tests and my thoughts start swirling in thousands of directions on all the ways this could go wrong, I am learning that to be able to be a rock, to be able to have a diamond mined from my soul, I have to go out take a walk and shout to the heavenlies, “THOU ART THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD! YOU DO ALL THINGS WELL!”