There’s a line in a Casting Crowns song titled, “Just be Held,” that the Lord keeps reminding me of lately. It says, “If your eyes are on the storm you wonder if I love you still, but if your eyes are on the cross you know I always have and I always will.” As I keep thinking about the focus Scripture from the first week of the Fearless study that I’m going through from Thistlebend, Matthew 14:22-33, I keep thinking about the storm that the disciples were sent out into and this song lyric.

Matthew 14:24 says, “but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.” Jesus had sent the disciples out on their own in their boat and then this storm comes. Fearless prompted me to think through how the disciples must have been feeling in those moments between Jesus sending them out ahead of Him and when He came back to them walking on the sea. I imagine this was no small storm. “Beaten by the waves” makes me think of a major tsunami of sorts where water is crashing inside the boat, the disciples are being soaked, barely having enough time to catch their breath before more wind and waves crashed against them. They had to be scared. Jesus didn’t come walking on the water to them until the fourth watch of the night, which, according to my study notes, is somewhere between 3:00 am and 6:00 am. They had to be exhausted. I also would imagine that they were confused, maybe even angry that they were in the boat alone, that Jesus had sent them out by themselves, and they had no idea where He was. I just keep thinking about movies I’ve seen before where I’m watching a storm and someone in a boat, out in the middle of nowhere, and there seems to be no hope in sight. What a gut sinking feeling that must be.

While I wouldn’t classify the storm my husband and I currently find ourselves in tsunami waves, I definitely feel as if we’re being beaten by the waves and that the wind is against us. We’re still newlyweds by some standards and our current schedules have left us exhausted and left us feeling separate without even the end of the season in sight. This past weekend I could hear down trodden sounds of discouragement come from both our voices. My fear begins to kick in as my mind automatically goes into panic mode. I imagine that we’re on this pattern of living separate married lives. And with our first sweet one on the way. As most people will be quick to tell you when you share you’re pregnant, “Wait till kids come into the picture, then the honeymoon ends.” And I fear that we’ll stay in this storm, or that it will get worse for us and there won’t be a point of return. We’re tired, we’re scared, we’re confused, and honestly even typing this out brings tears to my eyes thinking I want nothing more than a down day alone with my husband to regroup. While it’s a different fear than maybe what the disciples were feeling, I believe I can relate.

This morning as I was confessing all of my fear and feelings to the Lord, tears streaming down my face, the Lord brought to mind the Casting Crowns song lyric. When Jesus came walking on the water, the disciples even feared that at first, not knowing who He was. But with the arrival of Jesus, their minds came off the storm, and after Jesus got in the boat and the wind completely ceased, the incident ended like this in verse 33: “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” When their eyes were on Jesus, they had no other response but to worship and be hopeful, without fear.

The Lord sweetly provided an extra 20-30 minutes this morning for my husband and me to talk about this passage of Scripture and the current storm we are in. I realized as I was confessing to my husband all of my fears and worries that I really don’t like my boat to be rocked at all. Calm waters is all this girl wants. We started talking about how Jesus sent the disciples out into the storm they were in and while they probably questioned His love, it really was a storm for their well-being. They came to the end of the storm having a deeper understanding of who Jesus was and they praised Him. This is exactly what I’ve been praying for, a deeper understanding of my Lord and Savior, a deeper love for Him. But because my eyes were on the storm, I was missing the whole point and just sulking. Now, I’ll be honest, writing this is a good reminder this afternoon of what the Lord even revealed this morning, my flesh resists looking to the cross and His love for me and wants me focused on the storm and how things could be so much better IF… The words after that “if” could go on forever, but as I can see in this story of the disciples and as I can see right now, the Lord is in the midst of the storms. There is no reason for hopelessness and there’s always reason to praise the Lord. My husband and I needed this reminder this morning, and I needed it this afternoon, and I’ll probably need it again in an hour, maybe even in a minute. And maybe you need it too. But His grace is sufficient and we can look to the cross and know that we have nothing to fear. Let’s not look at our storms, let’s look at our GREAT GOD!

Planted for His Glory


Good morning sweet sisters in Christ! You all just came to my mind as I sit here working on Day 3 of my Fearless study. I must confess as I come to the bottom of the page and it says, “Read John 15 before you close,” I could physically feel my flesh once again inwardly sigh. (“What? A whole chapter?!” she whines…) But what the instruction says is for us to “Read John 15 before you close AND BE ENCOURAGED.” So if I give in to my flesh, guess what? I’m going to miss the encouragement! So I turn to John 15 and right off the bat this is what I read: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).

We didn’t know we would be doing Fearless after Heart of a Woman when Laurie first wrote Fearless. I love how the Lord speaks at just the right time through His Word. He knows our needs. He is our loving Father. Now I confess again my fear of pain. But that is my flesh. My flesh doesn’t want to be pruned. But when I read this, the Spirit in me rejoices and says, “Yes!” I want to bear more fruit. I want the dead branches gone! The dead, putrid, rotten fruit is disgusting! It’s only worthy of the trash!

Praise be to God that He is the Vinedresser. He is working all the time. Yes, we have work to do. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” (Phil. 2:12a). But the second half of this verse says….”for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12b ). And moreover, God tells us in Phil. 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” I am encouraged this morning to continue forward by grace through faith to work out my salvation with fear and trembling by working on filling out my “tree of righteousness” handout, putting my hope not in my own efforts or how well I fill it out, but in the truth of God’s Word that He is the Author of my faith and the Perfecter of my faith and He will complete the good work He has begun! No matter what!Photo to go with W7 post

My daughter and I are with my hubby in California this weekend. He had a business trip here and so the Lord provided for us to come with him and my husband and I are super thankful to have this weekend alone with our daughter as she prepares to leave for college in a few months. We have stayed at this hotel before and it is a favorite of ours. This time we were given a room where you can actually see the Pacific Ocean. Which is, of course, completely amazing. But even sweeter to me is that our balcony is right in front of this amazing tree that I have always noticed and loved when we have been here. I don’t know what kind of tree it is, but I have never seen anything like it. As I read John 15:1-2 and look at this tree, my heart fills with love and gratitude and hope in Jesus. I pray He encourages you all as well.

Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace