I Got You!

 A universal truth in life is that we will have stress.  Acute’ stress is short-lived, situational, but can be earth-shattering—death of a friend, stuck in traffic, argument with a spouse, child, or boss. Acute stress passes. Following an experiment demonstrating  how acute stress can increase mental acuity one doctor wrote, “I think intermittent stressful events are probably what keeps the brain more alert, and you perform better when you are alert,” she said (Sanders)

Chronic stress is just nasty, it increases risks like “chronic obesity, heart disease and depression (Sanders)." Chronic stress can come from the constant presence of acute stressors partnered with no way to escape. There is no control over those things that bring chronic stress into our lives.

The biggest contribution to date by atheist Dr. Richard Dawkins (IMHO), is gifting the world with the word ‘meme’. They are important because they allow us to deal with some of the stressors we face in our world on a daily basis. ‘Memes have become a very common part of social media culture (Cole-Black).” These photos, quips, and the like summarize what we have been thinking for too long. The purpose run the gamut from pure entertainment to “how we record our history through our lens (Cole-Black)” commented a 20-year-old. “Memes have become a common way of processing fear and tragedy through humor (Al-Heeti)." Our laughter does help with acute and chronic stress.

COVID-19, international political issues, and even killer wasps are just a few of the stressors in our life—acute and chronic. Couple these with the normal stresses we face—kids, work, homes, and the rest and it becomes very desirable to find a place free from stress. You might recall the old commercial “Calgon take me away”, but UC Berkeley did a study in which an amoeba, living in a stress-free situation didn’t thrive, but died (Ortberg 47).

If we are going to face stress and we need stress to continue to live how can we manage what happens so as to honor God? First, when God appears in the midst of our stressed lives, He will demand a response from us. Often, what God calls us to isn’t simple, clear-cut, or easy.

Jesus, walking on the water is in all the gospels except Luke. Only Matthew tells us of Peter walking on the lake. We’ve seen this story in our minds a million times. A storm on Galilee, seasoned fishermen trying to row. A mysterious person walking toward the boat. And in a moment of faith Peter calls to Jesus and the Lord invites Peter to join him. Peter becomes fearful, sinks and Jesus grabs him.

The fact is there is no storm. They are rowing into the wind which is difficult.  John alone says the “sea rose” which could be a rough chop to large swells. Four of those, at least, fished for a living. They knew what they were doing out on Galilee. They’d rowed and sailed that lake almost daily. This trip wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as fearful as when the woke Jesus up certain they were going to die.

It was about 3 a.m. and these men had been rowing and covered about three or four miles by 3 a.m. They weren’t afraid of the wind or the weather but when they saw someone “walking on the sea” and “they were terrified.”  It wasn’t the weather but an apparent ghost coming toward them.

Jesus knows they’re afraid and identifies Himself. Peter exhibits some faith when he “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Peter climbs over the side and starts to walk toward Jesus. We don’t know how far he got but we do know is that the wind was easier to notice than Jesus and so he sank shouting for Jesus who grabs Peter, saves him, and calms the winds. Question Peter’s faith all you want but how many of us would have even stepped over the side?

Peter recognizes Jesus

What gives Peter the guts to do the unthinkable is that Peter recognized Jesus. He’s afraid, like the rest, but he’s also sure that if this really is Jesus everything will be okay. It is John 21 in which Peter recognizes Jesus and plunges into the lake to swim to shore.

If we’re waiting for God and God shows up it’s a good thing to be able to recognize Him. I wonder how many people have missed God’s call and purpose by failing to recognize Him and His call. Lois Prater, in 1991 at 76 years-old she sold her Seattle-area home and most of her belonging and became a full time missionary into orphans in the Philippines. She started an orphanage there and in the 13 years she was there she

“suffered a broken leg, been hospitalized with pneumonia and tuberculosis, and has been ill with intestinal worms during her tenure in the Philippines. The hot weather, the spicy food and the distance from her family add to her hardships… My only regret is I didn’t start earlier when I was young (Wood).’’

Had she recognized Christ early on can you imagine what might have happened. You know those who have recognized Jesus’ claim on their lives. Some step out in faith and others reason themselves out of it.

Acting on what Jesus says

Peter doesn’t question Jesus’ intent when he says, “If it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Read ‘if’ as ‘since’ and you understand that Peter is confessing his belief in Jesus.

Those who recognize Jesus have to ask if we believe that He knows what’s best?  When Jesus tells us to not be afraid do, we believe Him and throw our leg over the side of the boat? I wish I could shout, “Of course, here I come Jesus” or do we talk ourselves out of it.

In obedience to Jesus and with a faith in Christ’s word Peter walked to Jesus and sank. This happened because Peter focused on his situation and not the savior. Peter was distracted by the wind so that he lost sight Jesus.

Today, in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic where is God? What does He call us to do? I haven’t received a vision of God’s wishes, but I can tell you that it is easy to get swamped by the details and the destructive power of the stress and lose sight or our Lord.

Let me offer us some guidance from God’s Word as we go through this time of stress. Approach any and all answers, truth, stories, and even your own feelings with a humble attitude. Being humble doesn’t mean we believe everything we hear and read but that we, like Mary that first Christmas, “pondered all these things” 

Secondly, remember that God is in charge. The “devil may be in the details” but the real, life changing power is in Christ. In the 1978 movie, Superman there is a scene in which Lois falls off the Daily Planet and, of course she is caught by Superman who says,

           Easy, miss. I've got you.

           You - you've got me? Who's got you (Donner)?”

We will sink from time to time. We can fall into thinking we know best. We can even believe we’re doing what God wants us to do when we know it goes against Jesus teaching. Even in the midst of such things we’ve been ‘got’ by Jesus. One last thought—as safe as staying on board may seem, it was not where Peter belonged. No matter how ‘safe’ your life is. No matter how safe and secure you want it to be. No matter how uneventful you desire to live your life. Jesus has other plans for us. I pray we will not be so afraid of abandoning ship that we abandon our first love instead. Let’s pray.



Works Cited

Al-Heeti, Abrar. "Coronavirus Memes Help an Isolated World Cope With 'Existential Dread'." CNET. 2020. Web. 7 Aug. 2020.

Cole-Black, Ameena. "The Purpose of Memes." BEACON. 2020. Web. 7 Aug. 2020.

Donner, Richard. Superman. Hollywood: Warner Bros., 1978. film.

Ortberg, John. If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of The Boat. [S.I.]: Zondervan, 2008. Print.

Sanders, Robert. "Researchers Find Out Why Some Stress is Good for You." Berkeley News. 2013. Web. 7 Aug. 2020.

Wood, Gail. "Lois Prater's Childhood Missionary Dream Is Fulfilled--At Age 76." Charisma Magazine. 2002. Web. 7 Aug. 2020.

Works Consulted

Al-Heeti, Abrar. "Coronavirus Memes Help an Isolated World Cope With 'Existential Dread'." CNET. 2020. Web. 7 Aug. 2020.

Cole-Black, Ameena. "The Purpose of Memes." BEACON. 2020. Web. 7 Aug. 2020.

Donner, Richard. Superman. Hollywood: Warner Bros., 1978. film.

Ortberg, John. If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of The Boat. [S.I.]: Zondervan, 2008. Print.

Sanders, Robert. "Researchers Find Out Why Some Stress is Good for You." Berkeley News. 2013. Web. 7 Aug. 2020.

Wells, Madeline. "Funny Quarantine Memes to Help You De-Stress." SFGate. 2020. Web. 7 Aug. 2020.

Wood, Gail. "Lois Prater's Childhood Missionary Dream Is Fulfilled--At Age 76." Charisma Magazine. 2002. Web. 7 Aug. 2020.

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