I Am Courageous
I have anxiety, but anxiety does not define me.
I have anxiety, therefore courage defines me.
Every day that I live I overcome fear. Every action I take is a step of courage. When COVID hit and there were so many people not knowing how to deal with the fear and anxiety a pandemic brought…that emotional strain is my everyday life. And I felt no greater anxiety about it than any other day. In fact I felt, for once, that I was not alone in my struggle. And I felt, for once, as if my struggle was finally justifiable. As if I didn’t believe that the struggle I had was honourable: that it was just a weakness, and a symbol of my failure as a human being. But now I have seen how so many have collapsed at such a small taste of my everyday, and I know that I am strong. And I get to lead yet again, only this time I lead in the strength of my weakness. In the familiarity of my fear. I am courageous, and maybe now the world can see that.
Maybe now I can see that.
Fishers of Men
It scares me to share this.
When I worked as a minister I felt that I could never make my questions, doubts, or concerns about faith public until I had reached what would generally be considered a satisfying conclusion to them. But those who are close to me know I have been struggling with my faith a lot over the past year. It is difficult for me to reconcile the Jesus I read about in the Bible with the Jesus I have experienced in my life. My main question, my main wound through my recent experiences, is that when I was at my weakest and most broken, when I needed the voice of God to speak to me…to just sit with me…there was nothing.
The response I have heard-and spoken-a thousand times before, is that God was speaking, and he was there: I was just not able to see or hear or sense him; he never left me.
But to me that does not sound like one who sticks closer than a brother (Prov 18:24). Or one who is the great counsellor sent to minister to our hearts and souls (Jn 16:7). Surely God would have been able through that time to speak to me in a way that I was able to hear him? To sit with me in a way I was able to sense his presence? I was not asking for a cease to the suffering I knew I had to endure, I just wanted the God who says he loves me to be present with me.
Where was my God?
I still search scripture. And I still pray. I still seek Jesus. Even in this time of shattered heart and doubting faith, I look for love and hope and life. It is a refreshing thing to be able to seek, to be allowed to doubt. But it is also a scary thing: what if I don’t find the answers I’m looking for? What if the conclusion I reach is not what I hope it to be? And what if I come to the wrong decision? It can be paralysing. But I am told that if I seek Jesus with all my heart then I will find him (Jer 29:13). And what else can I do? As I read and study about him, I only the more wish to meet him. To be in his presence again.
And with that in mind, here is a small thought I have had regarding the nature of the Jesus of scripture.
Large bodies of water are a metaphor for chaos and darkness, a place without God. You can see this from the creation narrative, to the story of Noah, to the mythology of monsters in the book of Job, to the chaotic storms and terror when the Sea of Galilee rages.
When Jesus called the first disciples they were hauling fish into their boats on the Sea of Galilee. Finding sustenance for their physical bodies from the deep and often dangerous waters. Jesus said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19).
If I am eisegeting here, please let me know. But it appears to me that Jesus paints the picture of mankind being like the fish: under a blanket of chaos and darkness. It also appears to me that just as bringing fish out of the sea brings sustenance to the fishermen, so what is sustenance to God is for humanity to be brought out of that chaos and into his kingdom.
This thought is furthered by Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well, when Jesus tells his disciples, “I have food to eat you know nothing about” (Jn 4:32). He was nourished by his ministry: his soul was fed by bringing life to the woman he had met.
There have been many times that I have been so wrapped up in writing, or talking with friends, or in prayer, that I have forgotten (or deemed it not important) to eat. This is because what I was doing was nourishing my soul. And what nourishes the soul of Jesus Christ is for people to be set free from darkness and chaos: for people to know his great love for them.
This is the Jesus of scripture. This is the Jesus my soul yearns for. This is the Jesus I want to know.
Lord Jesus, please make yourself known to me.