“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”– Jesus Christ to the apostle Peter. (Matthew 16:15 NIV)
In my dream, I had landed a job with the United States Postal Service as a carrier, delivering mail to Rickenbacker Causeway. Just offshore from Miami, it’s an island in Biscayne Bay constructed solely to anchor a six-lane highway, flanked by a pebbly waterline and a few straggly trees. Any NFL kicker could punt a football over its width. In real life, there are no buildings; just hundreds of cars whizzing by on their way out to Key Biscayne. But in my dream, I was following the trainer and learning the route as I delivered to offices and apartments on the shore where I once played with my brother Matt.
Last night’s dream seemed to come in response to my struggle to write a Christmas post. For the last ten days, my every attempt at writing ended up in the virtual wastebasket. Finally, God drew me back to the question Jesus asked Peter in Matthew 16: “Who do you say I am?”
For twenty-five years I’ve pursued the answer to this question. The easy answers come from Scripture: Jesus Christ, Son of God, born to save His people from their sins. The star over the stable, the cross on the hill, the Sunday morning sunrise when the stone rolled away.
The harder answers came through my commitment to follow Him. In accepting His invitation and acknowledging His Lordship, I gave Him free reign to make me into the woman He created me to be. He, in turn, accepted the challenge, and so began the journey that led me through the joy and heartache of being identified with Christ.
Jesus has provided me opportunities to learn who He really is, far beyond Christmas and Easter. He helped me overcome addiction and abuse. He called my daughter home when she was only fourteen. He rescued me from my family of origin and adopted me into the family of God. The list goes on ad infinitum. With each challenge I dove into the deep end of faith, thrashing in panic and lashing out in rage ’til I rose to the surface, gasping for air. The hands that took the nails gently towed me to calmer waters where I could catch my breath and begin again. With each recovery came a deeper understanding of His power and my weakness, His goodness and my failings, His love and my need.
All this led me to believe that I know Him, and to a tiny extent I probably do. However, His latest invitation to the deep end of the pool has me tired of treading water. Strangely, it’s a gentler crisis, not the usual drama that sucks the air from my lungs. It’s a call to trust Him for provision when I can’t see any way He can work it out.
The recession left us with our house (so far), and I’m grateful for that. But all our savings are gone, and we’re still helping our son through college. What have no guarantee of work whatsoever. Believe me, I appreciate what we have. But I’m so tired of the struggle, and the call He’s given me to write a book seems ridiculous. When He asked me again yesterday, “who do you say I am?” my answer revealed the worry of my tired heart. I know who He is. But I also know who I am. I’m just fresh out of strength and trust, and I doubt my ability to successfully write, market, and sell a book. The blue depths of the deep end are beginning to look inviting, like the treasure lies at the bottom of the pool and not in the calmer shallows with Jesus.
In last night’s dream, I had landed a job with the Postal Service. My neighbor Randy works at the post office, and he has steady income. And benefits. And health insurance. My postal route covered the upper end of Rickenbacker Causeway, which is coincidentally and exactly the location where my book begins. Even though I was following the trainer, I had no doubt I’d be able to do the job. It was a best-case scenario: guaranteed income where I’d been told to work, confident of my ability to complete the task at hand. It was a great dream!
Message from God or wishful dreaming? I prefer the former but will accept the latter. In any case, Jesus didn’t ask Peter the question in Matthew 16:15 without confirming his answer. The rest of the conversation went something like this:
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-17 NIV)
Peter may have thought he came up with the answer himself, but the revelation of Jesus’ true identity was a gift from God. You’d think that a guy who’d been fishing with the Messiah and hearing straight from the Creator was pretty much set for life, faith-wise. But Peter’s truest test was yet come. Jesus already knew of the upcoming betrayal, but it didn’t change His plans or His love.
I’m no Peter, but I’m encouraged by his story. I’m encouraged by my dream. Perhaps there is hope for me yet. The baby in the manger is the Lord of the Universe, and His plans for me have very little to do with my strength or courage or wisdom. His love for me has nothing to do with my failure or success. In this season of worry I lift my pinky finger above the surface and trust He will tow me back to calmer waters, breathe into my lungs the breath of encouragement, and cheer me on to begin again. Who do I say He is?
He’s my lifeguard, of course. Who do you say He is?
©Rachel Ophoff 2010, Coconut Mountain Communications LLC, All Rights Reserved.
Visit my website at http://www.friendshipwithjesus.com