Have you ever felt like the whole world is out to get you? Like everything is going wrong?
That’s how I felt this morning.
For starters, I was in meetings all day yesterday which meant that I did not get as much work done on a Tuesday as I normally do. Which I think is part of why I woke up in a weird mood today. I woke up annoyed, tired, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I felt like I had a lot to do today. But as I looked at my schedule, it was looking like a pretty normal Wednesday. I still felt anxious to get “everything” done though.
I did have a good workout at the gym this morning, I ran my fastest mile in months, and was able to distract myself of my busyness. But as soon as I walked out of the gym, I started worrying about my “to-do” list.
When I tried to get to work, I was not having very much luck. Many of you know that on Wednesday’s I like to go sit at a coffee shop to work for a couple of hours. After finishing the devotional, I am usually able get a lot of work done. So today, I was very excited to get to said coffee shop and get to work. Except, as I pulled in, I noticed there were not parking spots available. I drove around the parking lot for about five minutes and no spots opened up. I drove over to another coffee shop and that one had parking but no available seats. I got back in my car and drove over to a third coffee and they were out of the drink I wanted. I finally settled for a little breakfast joint with free wi-fi.
While this may not seem like a big deal to you, I like routine, and every time I had to drive to another coffee shop, I felt like I was wasting time and I felt like others were infringing on my routine. It is not easy to explain how I felt. It’s hard to be frustrated over stuff that you know would not frustrate you any other day, but on this particular day, I was.
In retrospect, my morning hasn’t been that bad. But it has felt bad to me.
In last week’s devotional we talked about Matthew 14 where the disciples see Jesus walking on water and they think he is a ghost. If you have not read it, you can go to www.midcity.church and click on the “Devotionals” tab. This week, I want to focus on that same scripture, but look at a different character, Jesus. Before he walked on water and the disciples thought he was a ghost, Jesus was in the mountains by himself, praying.
Let’s do a quick synopsis: in Chapter 14, Jesus feeds the five thousand, sends his disciples on ahead on a boat and he goes up to the mountain to pray. I always pictured Jesus going up the mountain as Jesus going to some secluded mountain top full of trees where there were no distractions. I pictured Jesus sitting under a starry night, where you could hear owls hooting (remember it was night time) and he could simply catch his breath and pray. But maybe that’s not what it was like.
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to go to the Holy Land and stand where Jesus would have fed the five thousand. I got to sit on a boat as we crossed the Sea of Galilee (where the disciples were) and feel the wind pick up and stir the waters. I even got to look up at the mountain where many believe Jesus would have been praying from.
I was surprised to see that from where Jesus would have been praying, he would have been able to see the entire scene. From where Jesus was praying on the mountain, he would have been able to see the storm coming in the middle of the night. He would have not only seen the wind, but he would have felt it too. He would have not only seen the waves getting stronger, he would have been able to hear the waves battering the boat. He would have been able to see the disciples anxiety levels rising. He would have been able to see the whole thing and yet, according to scripture, Jesus waits until morning to go to the shore and walk out in the middle of that storm towards the disciples.
He sees the storm. He feels the storm. He senses the fear in the disciples. But he chooses to stay and pray before stepping out in the middle of that storm.
I think that that is what has been missing in my life the last couple of days. And perhaps the reason I felt like the world was against me this morning. I walked out towards the storm too soon.
You see, even though Jesus could see the storm ahead of him, he chose to claim that spending time in prayer was more important to him than fighting the storm. It’s as if Jesus understood that the storm would still be there the next morning and therefore the storm could wait. In that moment, before ever responding, he needed to spend time in prayer.
Jesus gives us the perfect example of what we are to do when we wake up and see the storm that lies ahead of us: stop and pray before facing the storm. As we prepare for the day and we begin to think of all the stuff that has to get finished, the cleaning that has to be done, the errands that need to be run, the deadlines that need to be met, the meetings that need to be had, the million different places you need to be at the same time, we have to stop and pray first.
We stop and pray because in doing so, we begin our day by filling ourselves with the peace and strength of God. In doing so, we are reminded that God is bigger than everything we have to do and will help us overcome the things we have to do. And even if we do not overcome the storm as we had hoped, we know that Jesus is still more powerful than that storm and we will overcome.
As I read through Matthew 14 this morning, I had to stop and pray. And in choosing to stop and pray, I started feeling like I was in control of my storm once again. But here is the reality: I know that tomorrow when I wake up and begin to stare at the storm before me, I will have to do it again. And then again the day after that. And again the day after that. I have to choose to pray every morning, before every stepping out onto the water to face my storm. So today, I commit to starting my day with prayer tomorrow. Will you join me? I promise it will change everything for both of us
Together on the journey, Pastor Fernie