Gay Girl, Good God – Jackie Hill Perry

After hearing a lot about Jackie Hill Perry and listening to some of her spoken word poems and interviews, I decided to buy her book Gay Girl, Good God. Don’t let the title fool you though – this book does a lot more than discuss Perry’s background as a homosexual girl who became straight. This book, at its core, is about the miracle of a person who was “dead in trespasses and sins” that has been brought to life by the Savior Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1-9). This is a story of redemption and restoration. No matter who you are, what you’ve been through, what you struggle with – if you are a believer, this is your story too.

This is a story of redemption and restoration.

The beginning of the book is the story of Jackie’s past – who she was, how she was raised, what she did, what she thought about life – with relevant stories from the book of Genesis laced throughout. Perry uses a whole chapter to shed light on the fall of man and the effects of our sinful nature. From the introduction of Gay Girl, Good God, you can tell that Jackie Hill Perry knows just as well as anyone that there is no such thing as “good sin” or “bad sin”; ALL sin separates us from our Father and Creator.

Gay Girl, Good God

But don’t worry, the story has a happy ending. Jackie explains how she came to know Christ and how He rescued her from “the law of sin and death,” (Romans 8:2). She talks about the people who mentored her, the church she started going to, and the Gospel poetry she started writing. She was sure to include how she grew in her faith and how she was able to overcome temptations when they crept up. Toward the end of the book, Perry discusses our need for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and how God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son,” (Colossians 1:13).

You will be challenged, encouraged, and overjoyed by reading Gay Girl, Good God.

I was deeply encouraged by this book even though Perry’s story is much different from mine. I now have a better understanding of what people who identify as “gay” need from the body of believers that make up the Church. Perry gives these believers a blueprint of sorts in how to most effectively preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who are living in sin. By reading this book, I now understand what it is like for someone to feel rejected and uninvited by the church and what we as the body of Christ can do about that. Through Gay Girl, Good God, Perry encouraged me to be more accepting of others and show them Jesus rather than being hard-hearted and hoping they find Him through some other avenue.

If you or someone you know has ever committed a sin (which we all are guilty of), you should read this book. Be prepared to be challenged, encouraged, and overjoyed by the testimony of Jackie Hill Perry. Her story of being a sinner brought to life in Christ is no different from any other true believer’s story. I hope that you find as much beauty in your redemption story as Perry has unashamedly acknowledged in her book Gay Girl, Good God.

You can purchase a copy of Gay Girl, Good God by clicking here.

Grace and peace,

Bethany

The Weight of Singleness Part II: Goodness, Love, and Contentment

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Goodness

We’ve all heard the saying “God is good, all the time.” Many times, it is said during a moment of celebration and triumph. It is not as often used when someone close to you is diagnosed with cancer, or when a family member loses their job. These situations make it feel like God is good MOST of the time but definitely not ALL of the time. But if that were the case, then God would not be God and He would definitely not be good. Because if God is not good all the time, He is not good any of the time. God’s goodness is a vital part of who He is. It is not only a characteristic He has vowed to live by, it is the very essence of His being. God and goodness cannot be separated. Where God goes, goodness goes and where goodness goes, God goes.

“God is good, all the time.” Over the past few years, I have become more aware of the word “all” in this phrase. All… Every millisecond of my life – past, present, and future – God has been good, is still good, and will always be good. No matter what.

When I am weak, God is good. When I am strong, God is good.

When I am lazy, God is good. When I am productive, God is good.

When I am broken, God is good. When I am whole, God is good.

When I am hungry, God is good. When I am full, God is good.

When I feel hurt and rejected, God is good. When I feel loved and cherished, God is good.

If I (somehow) get married in the next two years, God is good and if I never get married, God is still good.

No matter how I feel or where I’m at, God is still good.

Even when I think that God may not be good, God is still good.

God’s goodness is not contingent upon His love for me. If He did not love me, God would still be good… But in His goodness, God has CHOSEN to love me.

Love

During this season of singleness, I have come to recognize God’s love for me in many different ways. Through fellowship with other believers, the simplicity of quiet time in the mornings, and the way that the sun sets over my family’s pasture I see glimpses not only of God Himself but of His love for me and the rest of His creation. Oftentimes, I am so captivated by the Lord that I lose my breath and am at a loss for words.

God’s love is absolutely unimaginable. No matter how hard we try, we could never even begin to fathom the love that the Father has for us.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:38-39, CSB).

Not a thing in this world (or the next) will make the Lord stop loving you. God’s love is like His goodness, it is a part of His divine make-up. He doesn’t go anywhere without it. Like layers of skin, God’s love and goodness hold together all that He is. Without these two parts, God would be just like the rest of us but because His love and goodness are holy by nature, He is far greater and far better than any person on this earth.

Just like goodness, love has started to obtain an inaccurate definition in today’s society. It’s actually not just one inaccurate definition, it is many inaccurate definitions. Love has been a catch-phrase of sorts rather than a meaningful word that actually carries weight for the ears that hear it. The word “love” has lost a lot of its power due to being overused and under-utilized. As humans, we can no longer grasp the significance of what the Bible means when it says “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” (Ephesians 2:4-5) or “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16). What splendor is lost in these verses when we can only think of “love” as a shallow, ambiguous term. God has proven His deep, immeasurable love for us by giving us His Son as a Savior that conquered sin and death so that we may know God and live forever in His Kingdom.

The gift of eternal life and a restored relationship with the Father gives us a greater understanding of God’s love and His goodness.

I have recently learned of another way that God has shown His love and goodness toward me: contentment.

Contentment

It’s an amazing thing to find yourself completely content in Yahweh Yireh – the God who Provides. Resting in the fact that He alone can satisfy my most anticipated desires enables me to have a deeper understanding of and longing for His Word and, ultimately, Him. When I put my trust in the God who knows what’s best for me, there is nothing I will miss out on. Philippians tells me that I don’t have to be anxious about anything because I’ve continually taken my worries to the Lord and He has given me the peace that passes understanding, (4:6). {Notice I did not say “He gives me what I pray for” but that’s for a different day.}

I used to hear the word “content” thrown around a lot to apply to certain situations in peoples’ lives. “Oh, you should be content with a 3.5 GPA!”… “You just need to be content while you are still single.”… “Once you become content with your current situation, you will get the [job, guy, house, etc.] that the Lord wants for you.” I don’t have a major problem with these too-often used phrases. I do, however, have a problem with the assumption here. The assumption is that our situations are what makes us discontent or content but, as a believer, I would have to disagree.

If I’m being honest, I don’t think I’ll ever find contentment in my singleness. I don’t want to be single. Period. I don’t like it, it hasn’t been good for me, I want out. BUT my singleness has been marked by a contentment that can be found in Christ alone. Just like the peace that passes understanding, I will find myself completely enthralled by the Lord too much to even care about my current situation.

I like to think that Paul was in this state of mind when he penned Philippians while imprisoned in Rome. He had a longing to go to the church in Philippi but his imprisonment kept him from leaving the house. After the Philippians had displayed how much they cared for Paul and his ministry, though they sent no material gift, Paul writes:

“… I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me,” (4:11-13).

Paul knew that only Jesus could give satisfaction during times of uncertainty. He was aware that his situation was rough but did not make excuses for losing hope in what Christ was capable of doing. Paul clung to the truth and was content while he was imprisoned. Notice I said while he was imprisoned… not in his imprisonment. Paul makes it clear that Christ is the root of contentment, not the circumstance he was in.

If we cling to Him, we will be content through and in spite of whatever circumstance we face. If we find our satisfaction in the Lord, we will never be let down. Surrender your desires to Him. He can see our future; we can’t. Jesus needs to be enough for us in ALL seasons of life.

All the Above

Through God’s love and goodness, He has gifted me with contentment. I could never be content on my own. If I did not know the love and goodness of God, I would constantly be trying to scratch and claw for the things that I want with no regard to who I was hurting or who I was becoming on my path to proverbial “success”.

But glory be to God that I no longer have to live like that. I can rest in the promises of my Lord and know that His plan for me is greater than anything I could choose for myself. My life is to be lived in pursuit of the One who gave His life to save mine. Contentment is founded and grounded in Christ alone.

Grace and peace,

Bethany

Calming the Storm – Part IV: Matthew 8:26b-27

“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’” – Matthew 8:23-27

This is the last part of the series! (*tear*) I hope everyone has enjoyed this series and been challenged by it just as I have. In the next few days I will post some closing remarks and include a few different resourses that I’ve used throughout the course of the series.

If you’ve been keeping up with the series, you know that I have been using questions for each of the previous three parts of the series but we’re going to drop them for this post. Hopefully this decision will make sense as you read it…But let’s go ahead and jump into the last part. This is where everything comes together, where it all makes sense.

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Click the picture to see more of Alison’s art!

Let’s do a quick recap before getting into the last part of verse 26 and verse 27.
1) Jesus had been preaching all day and wanted to cross the sea so He could preach to a different crowd. He calls the disciples onto the boat after telling them the importance of following Him. (Part I)
2) While they are at sea, there comes a storm that starts constantly swamping the boat with waves causing it to start sinking. During this time, Jesus is asleep. (Part II)
3) The disciples wake Jesus up because they need His help. He questions their lack of faith in Him. (Part III)

After Jesus is rudely woken up from His nap and then questions the disciples faith, some pretty crazy stuff happens:

Jesus stands up after exploiting the lack of faith in the disciples and shuts up a storm that is threatening the lives of the people with Him: “Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm,” (v. 26b). The guy SPEAKS to the storm and it LISTENS! I love the word “rebuked” here because it is translated to “correct” or “warn”. Only someone who has control over something is able to effectively correct or warn it. Jesus was in control of the storm from the beginning. With just three words – “Peace! Be still!” – the storm is put in its rightful place under the authority of Jesus Christ.

How amazing would this have been to witness first-hand?! You’re standing in the boat shoveling water out when Jesus stands up, says three simple words and the waves are stilled, the thunder is hushed, and the clouds are rolled away. I don’t know exactly what I would have done in that moment, but something tells me that my reaction would look something like: “I’m with that guy! I don’t care where He goes or what He does but He has authority and I’m going wherever He wants me to go and doing whatever He wants me to do.”

In verse 27 we see how the disciples react to Jesus’ authority. As Jewish men, they were very familiar with passages like Psalm 89:9 which says, “You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them,” and Psalm 107:29: “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” These were verses that the disciples had known about (and possibly memorized) from a very early age. They were aware that God was able to calm storms and settle waves and now that Jesus had demonstrated that same power in front of them, they were amazed at the possibility that Jesus could in fact be the God of the universe.

And now we come to the main point in the entire story: Jesus is God! The authority that belongs to Yahweh of the Old Testament is the same authority that belongs to Jesus the Messiah. Jesus is Creator and Ruler of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE. He is powerful, He is holy, He is perfection. He quiets the storms, He heals the lame, He raises the dead. Jesus is the God-Man who holds authority over all of nature. Jesus demonstrates this authority by correcting the actions of the storm. And He wants us to submit to His authority over our lives. He wants to bring us into the boat with Him so that He can demonstrate His power over the storms that often wreak havoc in our lives. He alone has the authority to settle them. No effort we could give will ever be enough to calm the storms. We can try our best to get the water out of the boat but as waves keep crashing in and our physical ability starts to decline, Jesus is the only one who can effectively say “Peace! Be still!” over the storms in our lives.

What a gracious God we have the opportunity to serve! Jesus continues to demonstrate His authority over the storms in my life and I pray that He is doing the same for you!

– Bet

Calming the Storm – Part III: Fear vs. Faith – Matthew 8:25-26a

“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’” – Matthew 8:23-27

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Click the picture to go to Alison’s art page!!

This study has been so good for me so far. Over the past few weeks, we have learned about the disciples following Jesus into the boat (click here for Part I) and the incredible storm that they have found themselves in the middle of (click here for Part II). In Part III, we will see the disciples’ reaction to the storm and what Jesus says to them. This next section of the passage has convicted me more than any other section. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that this is when Jesus finally wakes up and says something or if it’s because of the combined rebuke and calmness He has when questioning the disciples’ faith but I really learned a lot about the character of Jesus from verses 25 and 26 which we’ll get into later. But for now, let’s jump into what is going on in this passage.

1) What is happening in this verse?

We find out that there is a bad storm in verse 24 and in verse 25, we see the disciples’ reaction to the storm – they were freaking out! Since Jesus was asleep and they probably needed all the hands they could get to help bail water out of the boat, they felt the need to wake Him. But take a look at the words that they say: “Save us, Lord…”. The disciples were either aware of the fact that Jesus could save them or they just needed Him to help them with the water buckets. Either way, they needed Jesus’ help. They recognized His presence as a beneficial resource for them but did not trust that He was in control of the situation. Hence, the alertness in their call for Jesus to wake up.

The disciples were fiercely panicking at this point. After waking Jesus up, they say, “We are perishing.” Now, that’s a little extreme. But it is true. They were on the brink of death when they woke Jesus up. But what the men in the boat didn’t have faith in was the fact that Jesus was in control the whole time. They only wanted Him to wake up and do something about the fact that they were sinking.

Then, Jesus says to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” This probably took the men in the boat a little off guard because the waves were still crashing over the edges causing the boat to sink lower and lower. But Jesus decides to use this moment to teach his disciples. They lacked the faith that Jesus expected them to have at this point in their journey with Him. They had already seen Him perform miracles that proved His identity and power but they did not believe that He had control over nature. Jesus wanted them to know that He had the power to keep them safe from the storm. He was disappointed to find out that the disciples didn’t have much faith in Him.

The phrase that Jesus uses to call them out – “O you of little faith…” – is the same phrase He uses throughout the New Testament when the disciples are not displaying a proper amount of faith in who He is. Jesus begs them to stop worrying because He is in control. He knows that if they have faith enough to believe that He is in control, they will be content in whatever situation may arise.

2) What does this verse mean to me?

The easiest way to determine what this verse means to us as readers is to mentally put ourselves in the boat with Jesus and the disciples. Imagine you are using small buckets to help scoop water out of the boat. Imagine waves are crashing in on every side, causing the boat to toss and turn. Imaging Jesus laying there asleep in the boat after a long day of preaching and teaching. What do you do in that situation? Do you start freaking out like the disciples? Or are you calm, knowing that the Man asleep in the boat has authority over the winds and waves? Would you have trusted that Jesus has the ability to quiet the raging storm with His powerful words?

Our faith in Jesus depends on who we say He is and vice versa. If we believe that Jesus has all authority over Creation, there is no doubt that we would trust His ability to silence the storm. But if we constantly question who He says He is and do not recognize His power in all situations, we will be less likely to have faith in Him while the storm rages around us. I think it is easy to say that we would have that kind of faith looking back at this story, but when we mentally put ourselves in the boat with the disciples, it is harder to admit that we would believe in the authority of Jesus.

3) What does this verse teach me about Jesus?

I discussed a bit about Jesus in the answer to the first question but I want to look at something else interesting that Jesus does here in my answer to question 3: Jesus does not have a “what is going on…” moment after being woken up. He doesn’t freak out, He doesn’t complain about the storm or the water in the boat, He simply asks what the disciples are afraid of.

Notice that He disciplines the disciples prior to calming the storm. If He wasn’t in control of the storm, He would have urgently tried to calm the storm first and then lectured afterward. But, He had time to question their faith before calming the storm. He was in control the whole time and it was important for the men on the boat to see that. Jesus uses this moment to show that He is the founder and perfecter of the disciples’ faith (Heb. 12:2) by calling them out on their lack of faith in the middle of a raging sea storm.

I think it is also important to point out that Jesus does not even get up from where He was laying to address the disciples. He “rose” just before He rebuked the winds and the sea. He was still either laying down or sitting in the boat when He questions the disciples’ faith. This added a more dramatic effect to what happens next when Jesus does finally calm the storm which we’ll get into in Part IV.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it!

– Bethany

Calming the Storm – Part II: The Storm – Matthew 8:24

“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’” – Matthew 8:23-27

Before getting into Part II of the “Calming the Storm” series, I need to apologize – 1) for not posting this on the date that I said I would and 2) for putting things into the passage in Part I of the series.

As for the first apology, I’ve been so busy but that is no excuse. I said it’d be up by Sunday 7/8/18 and it wasn’t so I’m sorry. I will try to do better about getting these posts up when I said I would.

For the second apology, I want to take this time to talk about the value and danger of interpreting Scripture. In Part I (which you can read here), I tried to over-apply it to my life and your life. While the things that I said in the post were true, this is not a passage that we can just put our life circumstances into and use for our benefit. The particular message of this passage is more beautiful if we take it as it is and do not add more meaning to it. This is not a parable that Jesus is telling to crowds, this is real life. This story actually happened. There were actual boats with actual people and an actual storm. This is not a hyperbole that we can apply to our lives, this story ACTUALLY HAPPENED. I think when we try to add to Scripture we can start to have a “fairytale” mindset about what we’re reading but that is very misleading. We have to understand that many of the things we read about in the Bible (unless they are parables) are real-life stories.

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Let’s look at verse 24 of Matthew 8:

“And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.”

Now, for the questions that I am going to answer:

 

1) What is happening in this verse?

2) What does this verse mean to me?

3) What does this verse teach me about Jesus?

1) What is happening in this verse?

This verse is pretty straightforward for the most part. In Part I, we looked at what was going on right before the disciples got onto the boat (Jesus told them about the importance of following Him), and now they are on the boat at sea in the middle of a big storm.

For context in verse 24, we have to consider who all is on this boat (there are multiple boats on this trek across the Sea of Galilee as told in the book of Mark 4:35-41, but we’ll just focus on the boat that Jesus is in). From looking at verse 23, we know that this boat has some of Jesus’ disciples in it. We know that many of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen by trade. This is significant because many of the men on this boat have probably had experience dealing with storms at sea. Why is this significant? Well, we’ll get into that in the next part of the series. But for now, we just need to know that there are men who used to work as fishermen on the boat with Jesus and that they have more than likely been through storms at sea before.

I also want to take a second to look at the word “swamped” in the middle of this verse. It says that the boat was being “swamped” by the waves. What does this mean? Is it just a simple rocking of the boat? No. This word “swamped” also translates to “covered” or “veiled”. The waves are crashing over the side of the boat and covering it with waves. These guys are not on a yacht or a cruise ship going across the ocean. They are in a little wooden boat trying to get across the Sea of Galilee. Let me just say that this is not the type of boat I want to be in when a big storm comes. Knowing that the waves were “swamping” the sides of the boat makes me scared for these men because there was not a lot of room to hide from the storm.

Now, this seems like a bad deal and all but check out what Jesus is doing. THIS GUY IS SLEEPING. We know that He just got finished preaching a possibly day-long message to a crowd of people and he is currently on His way across the sea to do the same thing. So, I understand that He is tired, but what in the world?! These waves are crashing over the sides of this small fishing boat and Jesus is ASLEEP in the middle of it.

2) What does this verse mean to me?

Since I kind of got onto myself for reading into the passage in part I, there is not a lot to say here. Yes, Jesus is with you always but that is not the point of this passage. Yes, Jesus can calm the storms in your life but that is not the point of this passage. Yes, there are going to be times when you feel like Jesus is “asleep” in your life but that is not the point of this passage.

For now, what this verse should mean to you is that Jesus and his disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a crazy-bad storm came up and Jesus was sleeping through it. That’s all for now. It would be dangerous for us to lose sight of the actual meaning of this passage by putting our own story in it and making it a story that it was never intended to be.

3) What does this verse teach me about Jesus?

While it blows my mind that Jesus is asleep in the boat, one of the biggest things I have gathered from this is that Jesus feels so secure in the hands of God the Father that he can peacefully sleep, no matter what is going on around Him. And, though we’ll get into this later in the series, this proves to me that Jesus is not just a human. He is also a divine being who can literally sleep through anything.

In Part III – Fear vs. Faith, we’ll be taking a look at the disciples’ reaction to the storm and their reaction to Jesus being asleep. I hope you all have enjoyed reading through this study so far and, as always, if you have any questions for me, please ask them!

– Bet

Calming the Storm – Part I: Follow Him – Matthew 8:23

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’” – Matthew 8:23-27

 

Throughout the course of the “Calming the Storm” series on the blog, I want to answer three questions for each part of the series:

1) What is happening in this verse?

2) What does this verse mean for me?

3) What does this verse teach me about Jesus?

I also want to encourage you to ask me questions in the comments or just email them to me if there is something that you are confused by or if you just have a question about the passage as a whole. My goal in this study is to encourage a deeper understanding of God’s Word and a longing to know Him better so that we may fall more in love our Creator each day.

Now, let’s get started…

 

1) What is happening in this verse?

Matthew 8:23 is a very simple sentence when you first read over it. It is pretty clear what is happening here: Jesus is leading His disciples onto a boat.

He had just finished preaching about parables and had healed quite a few people which resulted in a large following. As with most cases when Jesus started to inherit a large crowd, He wanted to leave, so they got into the boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.

But I want you to take a look at the previous two verses (21-22):

Another of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.’”

This makes verse 23 that much more important:

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.

Jesus had just finished talking about the importance of following Him; how it should be the most important thing in our entire lives. We know this from other instances in Scripture (Matthew 4:19, Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23) but I wanted to point out the hidden message in this passage and how each part of this story can apply to our lives.

 

2) What does this verse mean for me?

The correct response to Jesus’ leading us is to follow Him. We may not know where we are going or the condition of the boat we may be getting into but the application for us from verse 23 is to have enough faith to follow Jesus onto the boat. We will see later in this passage that having faith to follow Him onto the boat is not going to be enough. But it is the initial step of faith that the disciples demonstrate in this verse that we must also display in our own lives.

This could look a lot different for each one of us. For me, having enough faith to step onto the boat could mean that I take a job as a volunteer middle school girls youth leader. I could have made up excuses for reasons that I couldn’t be their youth leader or I could have just flat-out said “no” but I decided to follow Jesus into the boat that He has led me on to. It took a lot of faith in who He is for me to be able to say “yes” to that position but I know that I have a great opportunity to pour into the lives of these middle school girls and that Jesus is with me always.

For other people, stepping into the boat may be moving away from home for the first time. Freshmen in college will be moving into their dorms in about a month from now and I know that it is scary to move away from home for the first time. But if you have prayed about your college decision and have found a ministry to get plugged into while you are away from home, you have displayed enough faith to follow Jesus onto the boat.

For many of us, the biggest step of faith we ever had to take was confessing Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It may not seem like it for all of us but stepping onto that boat was the hardest decision in our entire life. Some people had to give up hobbies and interests, some people had to give up friends, and some people even had to give up family members and careers as a result of following Jesus onto the boat. It took a lot of faith to give up those things and follow Him.

The biggest point of this verse as far as what it means for us is that Jesus is worth following. It is the most important decision we will ever make this side of heaven and it is indeed one that we will regret if we decide not to follow Him.

I also want to point out that we should never stop following Jesus. Following Him onto the boat is one thing, and it is indeed a great thing. But once we get to the other shore, we can’t just say, “Okay, I followed Him onto the boat once so I’m done following Him.” Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:24 to take up our cross DAILY and follow Him. It isn’t something we do once and then forget about. Following Jesus is like a job: if we don’t show up, we don’t get rewarded. We either have faith to follow Him onto the boat and recognize the importance of that, or we don’t. There is no in between.

 

3) What does this verse teach me about Jesus?

Here is where I will park the “boat”, so to speak. This verse is very simple, as I said before, but there is SO MUCH to say about who Jesus is from these 11 words.

The first thing that I want to point out about Jesus in this verse is that He gets into the boat with the disciples. Now, this may be a very minor point if we didn’t know one other thing about Jesus. But in Matthew 14:22-34, we know that He possessed the ability to walk on water. Could he have walked on the water beside the boat in this passage in Matthew 8 too? I believe He could have if He had wanted to. But He opted to get into the boat with the disciples. Why?

I think it is no simpler than the fact that He knew the limitations of the disciples and that they were tired from walking around with Him all day. He met them where they were at and stooped down to their level. He knew that they didn’t have the ability to walk on the water like He did so He led them onto the boat. Now, Do I believe that Jesus could have helped them out onto the water as He did with Peter in Matthew 14:22-34? Absolutely. But we have to remember that the disciples had just started following Jesus only a few chapters earlier and maybe didn’t have that much faith in Him yet. Heck, they barely had enough faith to get into the boat with Him. I’m sure they would have thought He was crazy and dipped out if He had told them to walk on the water with Him.

I think that this story really demonstrates Jesus’ ability to relate to us as humans. I know that I often think of Jesus as much higher than us, reaching down to pull us up when we don’t have enough faith but that is not always the case. We need to understand that Jesus constantly reaches out to help us where we are. He relates to us so impeccably that He was able to take our place on the cross and bear God’s wrath for us. He does not reach down to help us, He reaches out to save us. He is standing in front of us, leading us onto the boat knowing that He is all we need to get through whatever comes next.

Like I said at the beginning of the post, please do not hesitate to ask me a question via comment or email. I will be glad to answer any question that comes my way!

I hope y’all enjoyed reading this first of four “main point” posts from the “Calming the Storm” series. I really enjoy writing about the Bible and showing people more of who Jesus is. If there is a topic that you would like for me to write about, let me know! I have ideas for upcoming series’ but I want to know what you guys want me to write about. Let me know in the comments!

Peace and Blessings,

Bet

The Weight of Singleness

Hello. My name is Bethany… I am 25 years old… and, yes, I’m still single. I have never even been on a date. Many times, I question what is wrong with me. Is it my personality or my attitude? Is it my face or my hair? Is it my weight or the way I dress? Is it my obsession with football or my incredibly inappropriate sense of humor? Many people would say that it’s none of these things and, most of the time, I’d have to agree with them. There are still some days though that I feel broken, I feel worthless, I feel helpless, I feel lonely, I feel unwanted, unneeded, and unloved.

It hasn’t been until recently that my singleness has weighed so heavily on me but in the past three years, I have wrestled with the Lord over my never-changing relationship status. I’ve prayed and cried myself to sleep for fifty-leven days, umpteen hours (catch the Usher reference?). I have read article upon article and book upon book about how to be content in my singleness. I have had many conversations with godly women about being single and how to be patient with the Lord. Sometimes these things work and sometimes I’m left even more confused than I was going into it. But I recently came to the realization that there is no person on this earth that can give me the perfect answer to my frustrations. The only One who can help me in my sorrow is the Lord.

He is the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. He knows the number of hairs on my head, the amount of money in my bank account, and my GPA. He knows the exact time and place that I will meet my future husband, where we will have our wedding, and how many children we will have. I do not need to provoke the Lord to act. He will act in His perfect timing. I need to trust Him in every season of my life. I need to understand that He knows what is best for me. While I can only see the moment I’m in, He sees my whole life. Though I try to wrestle this weight of singleness off of me, He is the only One who can make this burden light for me.

Singleness does not equal brokenness.

Singleness does not equal worthlessness.

Singleness does not equal loneliness.

Singleness does not equal punishment.

Singleness does not equal pain.

Singleness does not equal an inability to be loved.

Singleness does not mean that the Lord is holding out on you. It does not mean that you’ve done something wrong and does not mean that you aren’t doing the right things either. Singleness does not make you less important than being in a relationship does. Most importantly, singleness does not make you less qualified for salvation and sanctification than being in a relationship does. My identity is not found in my singleness. My identity is found in my Savior.

I find encouragement in passages like Hosea 2:19-20 which says: “I will take you to be My wife forever, I will take you to be My wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. I will take you to be My wife in faithfulness, and you will know Yahweh.” These verses can seem kind of odd to some people, but as a believer, this is my hope. I need to be in love with Jesus first and foremost. He has forgiven me like no one else ever will. He has saved me from sin and death like no other man can. He has redeemed me and made me righteous and that is something I can never repay. Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn, authors of Every Young Woman’s Battle, put it this way:

“If you have asked Jesus to live inside your heart, He wants to live there permanently, not just rent a room there during seasons that you don’t have a boyfriend. Don’t force God to take a backseat to anyone. Keep guys in their rightful place in your heart, and make sure you keep Jesus as your first love. Of course, God wants you to love other people, but not more than you love Him.”

I have started to enjoy my singleness more and more as I think about the things the Lord has done for me. I have also been able to do a lot more for His Kingdom than I would be able to do if I had a husband and a family. There are some things that have helped me become more patient and content in my singleness and have helped me learn a lot about the things that I need to change in myself before I am able to effectively be in a relationship.

Here are the things that have helped me find my identity in the Lord rather than in my singleness and I hope they can help you too:

  1. Stop using “I want” statements when you pray. I started writing down my prayers and I realized how much I say the phrase “I want” while praying. “I want a relationship… I want to pass this test… I want my team to win…” But I soon found out that using “I want” statements is not what prayer should be about. Prayer is about being in awe of who the Lord is and surrendering everything to Him. If we pray out of reverence, we will be more pleased with our prayer. It turns our hearts toward the Lord and allows us to want what He wants for us. Though our wants may change, the Lord stays the same.
  2. See your singleness as an opportunity rather than a punishment. When I started to see my singleness as an opportunity rather than as a punishment, I felt freed from a lie that held me down for so long. I am able to work with a youth group, take more trips, and spend more time with my family. I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of the things that I have done if I had been in a relationship.
  3. Fast from things that make you wish you were in a relationship. For me, this usually means fasting from social media and certain types of entertainment. The way that I fast from these things has changed over the past few months. The most effective way for me to fast from social media is to pick one or two days per week to completely avoid the social media apps on my phone. I have them all in a folder on the last page of my home screen. I can usually fast from music and movies by only allowing myself to listen to Christian music and watch family movies/TV shows. Just like a normal fast, fasting from social media and entertainment can be very helpful. It forces you to spend more time with the people around you and it forces you to ultimately spend more time with the Lord. Find out what triggers you to want a relationship and take a break from that thing. Fasting from social media and secular entertainment has provided me with seasons of growth and maturity.
  4. Read a book (or 6). I haven’t always enjoyed reading but lately, I have read quite a few books that have really challenged me in the way I think about my singleness:
    • Every Young Woman’s Battle – Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn (this is the book I referenced earlier in the article)
    • Passion and Purity – Elisabeth Elliot
    • Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? – Carolyn McCulley
    • Embracing the Love of God – James Bryan Smith
    • Biblical Femininity – Chrystie Cole
    • Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
  5. The most helpful thing that I have done as a single woman and one of the most important things that I will ever do as a believer is memorizing Scripture. And I mean memorizing a lot of Scripture. I am able to recite whole passages to myself in difficult situations. I can easily have a conversation with someone about the Lord without having to pull out my Bible. I’ve been able to cross reference verses in my head when I’m listening to a sermon. Memorizing passages of Scripture has become one of the most under-rated tools in churches today and it has become one of my favorite things to do during my quiet time.

If you’re like me and you are constantly trying to fight to remain content in your singleness, remember that Jesus is near. When you’re fed up with the world questioning why you’re still single, remember that Jesus is right there with you. You only need to have faith that He will give you the patience and peace you need to get through this season of singleness in a way that will glorify and honor Him.

Grace and Peace,

Bethany