God gave me an encouraging and beautiful vision today as I sat down with Him during my devotional time on my day off. God told me to remember a time when I knew He was with me. With His help, I recalled the time I was in Beit She’an in Israel on a trip with Bridges for Peace. Some of the group were walking along the ruins and we saw a small lamb in one of the interior parts of an old ruined marketplace stall. It was bleeding over its ear as if another animal had tried to bite it off. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen – lonely, helpless, lying there bleeding, making bleating sounds, with its legs tucked underneath it. The ruins in which the lamb was lying added to the overall sadness and sorrow of the scene. All at once some of us in the group were overcome with the symbolism of this small lamb. The lamb – alone, no shepherd in sight, wounded among the ruins of a once-great city. The lamb who was slain for us – Jesus, son of God – wounded and alone, saving us because of our sin and the deteriorated state of our souls. This memory has allowed me to come the closest to a meager understanding of the great sorrow for Jesus’ death on the cross for my sins. He agreed to suffer so that my soul could be rebuilt and so I could see a new city someday – a city that never sees deterioration.
As I recalled this memory I saw myself gazing into Jesus’ eyes and saying I was so sorry He had to suffer for me, knowing I will sin again and hating myself for it. But I saw Him look down off the cross, the cross disappearing behind him and seeing Him in the flesh. He looked at me and took my hand. He turned me around and all of a sudden I was facing a beautiful white and shining city across a huge body of water. I was standing on the opposite shoreline of the city and I wanted to get there so badly. I was unable to judge the depth or width of the huge body of water in front of me. And I had no way to cross it to get there. But all of sudden I did know – Jesus walks on water and I was holding His hand.
At the same time of the realization that Jesus was holding my hand, I reached several conclusions:
- I would reach that city someday, but my choices and faith would determine the hardship of the journey to get there.
- Jesus’ hand would always hold me unless I purposefully let go. And then there was no telling what I would face on my own until Jesus’ hand reaches out again, grabbing hold of me, and asking me, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)
- I may not always see where I’m going, depending on the height of the waves, the wind, the rain, the fog which represent all the distractions, trials and troubles of life, but Jesus’ hand still holds me fast and all I need to do is refocus on Jesus to have comfort of His hand in mine.
- I must stay close to Him, abiding in His Presence, which will give my heart comfort, peace and rest.
I asked God why I sometimes feel as though my emotions are like the waves of the sea- tossing me up and down, here and there, making me doubt and wondering if He really does love me and whether He is truly there for me. In a still small voice He answered me saying that I have the wrong perspective. I am in turmoil because I am taking my eyes off of Him and away from the knowledge of His hand in mine and instead focusing on my environment and my circumstances. I become ineffective as I forget the one thing God repeatedly speaks to me over and over again on my journey:
“Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4-5