There are moments and even seasons in our lives when we feel like we are drowning — when life feels overwhelming.
I remember one of those moments a few months ago. A situation had occurred that threatened to steal my peace and joy.
One morning, I awoke literally feeling as if waves were hitting me, and I was at risk of drowning. The storm of my situation was overwhelming me. I heard God speak very strongly to my heart: “Look at me!” I still was too overwhelmed by “wave” after “wave” of emotional pain to look up. Two more times, I heard God speak very firmly to my heart: “Look at me.” The tone was more firm than I typically hear. It was the tone of how a father might speak to a child that is terrified and losing control. It was a tone of firm and loving authority. His third call to me was finally the “lifeline” I needed to begin to look up.
I then asked God, “What do you want me to see?” He immediately answered me with a picture of Him hanging on the cross. I asked Him, “What more do I need to know about the cross?”
Circumstances in life can quickly descend upon us with an unanticipated fury, and depending on our position in relation to our view of those circumstances, we can quickly be swept “overboard” and drown in the “waves.”
A few months ago, God reminded me how the Israelites were brought to an impossible situation when escaping the Egyptians. They were in a narrow valley, surrounded by steep mountain cliffs, trapped between the pursuing Egyptians on one side and the Red Sea on the other side. Their obvious choices were to either die by the sword or die by drowning.
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. 3 Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” 6 So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. 7 He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. 9 The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.
10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the seaon dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
God did the miraculous and parted the Red Sea! What was impossible suddenly was possible! Where there was no way, God made a way. The Israelites didn’t have to choose the least horrible method of dying. God gave them an entirely new solution!
I find it fascinating that so often what we see in the Old Testament, we see in a bigger and more incredible measure in the New Testament!
In the New Testament, we have the story of the disciples on a boat on the Galilee Sea when they see the figure of a man walking towards them on the water. Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk towards Jesus… on the water!!! The Biblical account then goes on to say that Peter began to see the wind and began to drown. Jesus immediately comes to Peter, and Peter is able to safely return to the boat.
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
What I found interesting is that before Peter took his eyes off Jesus, he was able to walk on water!!! It was only after he began to focus on the wind and waves that he began to drown. It wasn’t that Peter’s circumstances changed; it’s that his perspective changed. His position then changed in relation to his perspective: he began to sink. Instead of walking on water, which speaks of authority, he began to succumb to the water and drown.
What stood out to me was that in the Old Testament, God parted the waters so the Israelites could walk through the sea without it touching them. In the NT, Peter had authority/position above the waters. He walked on the waters. His position was based on His “view” or relationship to Jesus.
What so profoundly spoke to me is that in Jesus, we are “positioned” to walk above our circumstances, meaning to have authority over them. I know this can be quickly misunderstood, but we have authority in Jesus as His sons and daughters to “walk” above our circumstances and to not be victim to them.
We keep our eyes on Jesus. We understand our position in Him — that we are not victims, but we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us!”
At the cross, Jesus won for us all that He is and has. We are no longer helpless and hopeless. We are positioned in Jesus to be victorious!!!