A sail is flapping on the soaked mast of an old, tattered boat. Alone in the midst of the sea, this craft slings across waves. Above, the clouds are dark and full of electricity, producing rain that pierces the wooden boards and surface of the ocean. Below the textured water, there’s peace. Inside of the boat lies a woman, crumpled and clinging for her life. She grips the side of the boat, as the wind grows stronger. It’s only a matter of time before she’ll lose her strength, but she clings, leaving marks in the wood. The boat continues to rock and water floods the inside of the vessel, where she loses her hold. She’s suspended in the air, and for a moment, she’s weightless.
Stormy seas – a common metaphor used to describe life or various events we experience– tragedy, trials, trepidation. We all have a moment (s), some heartbreakingly more than others, where we’ve lived on our tattered boat, clinging for dear life. Some of us have been thrown overboard, some thrown multiple times, and some have gone down with their ship.
I have a rather large tattoo on my arm that paints a similar scene. It’s a glorious image of a broken boat caught in rough waters. Dark, ominous clouds surround a beautiful sun and its rays cast a perfect light on the boat’s distress. My tattoo proclaims my viewpoint on life despite the “storms” and “high waters,” but the truth is, I have been no better than a tattered, broken vessel being tossed around in the ocean – suspended, scared, stuck.
So, what is it then? Where does my uncertainty and instability come from? Of what am I afraid? Why is it that I feel like a wave tossed in the wind?
James 1:6 reads, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
This verse was a literal “palm-to-forehead” moment for me. I’ve realized that the doubt and insecurities I possess in myself have completely hindered me from experiencing God-given opportunities and plans. I’ve missed out on the Holy Spirit moving in my world and in other’s, all because I get in my own way.
To be clear, the doubt/insecurities I feel are mostly – my own biblical knowledge and abilities to lead and use my various (God-given) gifts. One of my beautiful friends termed that I “clip my own wings” because I am scared of what’s on the other side. A prime example - instead of opening my mouth to share the truth to a fellow sister in Christ, I choose not to because I am not confident enough in my memory of scripture. I choose to be quiet with my words in all forms of my gifting: written, taught, and sung. Feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit is an understatement. So, my next thought was obviously, how in the world do I get out of my own way? How can I find security and stability in Christ?
1. Remember the Holy Spirit lives in you. Literally. How empowering to know that we serve a God who not only sacrificed His son, beat death, and promises us eternity, but also gives us the power of the Holy Spirit? That same power that conquered the grave lives in each of us – let the Holy Spirit guide you, give you words, and flow from your soul.
2. Come to Jesus. In Matthew 14, the disciples are on a boat and caught in a storm. They’re scared. Of course, Jesus shows up, nonetheless by walking on the water and they initially think He is a ghost. Jesus immediately reassures that He is the Lord and to not be afraid. Then Peter decides to take it a step farther by asking Jesus to command him to walk on the water. Jesus replies, “Come.” This passage not only tells us to get out of the boat and walk to Jesus without doubt or fear, but it reminds us that we serve the Lord who created and controls the seas, the winds, the storms, everything. If God is calling you, even out to open water, go to Him.
3. Pray to Him specifically and with thanksgiving. Philippians 4: 6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And let the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” There is no need to be anxious, but there is great need to be in prayer. With this prayer and connection to our Father comes peace. What I’ve found is that doubt and insecurities disrupt this peace, so it’s vital we pray for freedom, give Him control of our lives, and allow Him to rule our hearts. Also, this verse says to be thankful in our prayer, so even when we are in a storm, how can you be thanking God?
4. Rely on the strength of the Lord’s might. We live in a broken world where we’re exposed to many distractions. The devil is a jerk, y’all. He wants us to see those magazine covers in the grocery store, go home, and shame our bodies in the mirror. He wants jealousy to rot our hearts and create a divide between the women in our church. He wants you to be tempted by the men you see at the gym. The list goes on. Ephesians 6: 10-12 reads, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over the present darkness, against the spiritual forces if evil in the heavenly place.” Paul is describing life as suiting up for a battle, because life is one! Not only do we fight against spiritual warfare, but we also battle ourselves – our flesh vs. the Holy Spirit. All of this being said, the demons tremble when they hear His name, y’all – and we’ve got Him in our hearts!
So, even in the worst storms and scariest places, listen to Him calling for you, and if He is, run to Him with faith. Lay your doubt and insecurities at the foot of His cross because He has got plans for you.
So long doubt and insecurity. What I’ve realized is that all they have done is have me focus on ME instead of Him. Here’s to a new season of mountain-moving faith, treading water, and complete confidence in my perfect Father.
She hits the floor and all of a sudden, the storm stops and the sea calms. Through gasping breaths, she looks up as the clouds part and the sun shines. Without hesitation, she stands and leaps from the boat, diving into the water. For a moment, she pauses underneath the surface, completely submerged, letting the peace cover her. She allows her body to slowly rise until her head and arms feel the crisp air, clean from the storm. Unsure of which direction to go, she feels the heat of the sun and is comforted – she begins to swim.