BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER
If it doesn’t scare you, you’re not doing it right.
In order to grow your faith, you must take some bold steps.
You must choose between moving back toward safety or forward toward growth.
It’s a recurring theme in the spiritual lessons of my life—you don’t get anywhere meaningful without taking the first step out of your comfort zone. I feel like I’m constantly confirming the lesson that growth and transformation is uncomfortable. The further and more boldly I move out of my comfort zone in pursuit of Jesus, the more unsteady I tend to feel.
After taking a bold step just the other day, I lay awake in the middle of the night reeling from an anxiety that caused the physical sensation of literally being on a boat in the thrashing waves. My breathing was rushed, my vision was throbbing, I broke into a cold sweat, and my heart was skipping beats. I’ve grown enough in the last few years to recognize that sort of acute spiritual torment—but recognizing it doesn’t do anything to stop it. In fact, the more I choose to follow Jesus and respond to the call of the Holy Spirit, the more jealous the tormentor becomes. The evil whispers attack my credibility, authenticity, dignity, capability, even my sanity at times.
Now, honestly—I’m not going to stop following Jesus, but sometimes the torment tempts me to slow the rate of my pursuit. And I’ll admit that as I was being tossed about in that metaphorical boat the other night, I wanted to row back to shore and avoid testing those waters again. But then, a different voice cut through the darkness.
“Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Jesus was on that boat with me. Like His disciples, I let myself come undone by the storm. I lost sight of the fact that I had been led into the waters for a purpose, and by someone who came to earth Himself and experienced the anxiety-causing struggles we all face daily. I’m not alone in any of this. And even if I forget to invite Him into my boat before I push off from the shore, He will walk out on the water as soon as I call.
As I continue on this spiritual journey, I’m forever grateful to Jesus for calming the waves and helping me to leave that nagging tormentor spinning in our wake.
Questions for Reflection
Study and meditate on Mark 4:35-41 and Matthew 14:22-33. What stands out to you?
Think about the times and situations that stir up stress and anxiety for you. Is there a common thread or pattern you can identify? Do you experience physical sensations in response to spiritual discomfort? Take some time to observe your experiences with stress and anxiety from a distance, noting how it makes you feel and how it influences your behavior.
How can Jesus relate to to your individual struggles? What does He want to point out to you about the experiences, skills, or emotions that you hold in common?