As a massive Darlington Football Club fan, the journey of following them has required an immense amount of faith! My first ever game was when they sealed promotion back to the football league. This sparked scenes of wild celebrations, people running onto the pitch, singing, lifting players in the air, it was an incredible atmosphere! On that day, you felt like you supported the best club in the world (madness I know) who were unbeatable and would go on to achieve great things.
There have been many other amazing moments too, a last minute winner at Wembley, 4 promotions in 5 seasons...high scoring victories along the way and you dream that anything is possible for this football club. However, this has not always been the case when supporting Darlington. We have suffered relegations, been put in administration several times and even currently, we are not in a good place football wise or structure. In these moments, you feel like you can’t see the point in supporting them, in fact, you wonder why the football club bothers to exist at all.
In the same way, this speaks to me about my own journey of faith in God. There has been moments of seeing people healed, like a leg actually growing right in front of your very eyes, to people who had blindness being able to see. I’ve witnessed people come to faith, had their lives transformed by accepting Jesus. I’ve seen people feed the homeless and look after people who have been released from prison. I’ve seen God do so many amazing things in my own and other people's lives that you can’t help but to believe, praise His name, worship, pray and truly believe that all things are possible with God.
In the same way, I’ve seen some of those coming to faith drift away, to even have no faith at all. I’ve seen people pray for healing and it’s not happened, even to the point where even that person has died. I’ve been through times where I don’t feel like I’ve heard from God or I don’t see how God is even working in a situation. At these points, I sometimes ask myself, is God even real?
You can see this in the Bible too! I often laugh at the disciples and think, how could they not understand who Jesus is when they are walking with Him? How can they not believe when you look at all the things they have achieved through Him? I think it’s madness, until it suddenly dawns on me, that I am exactly the same as a disciple myself, in fact, it’s probably more laughable because at least I have the New Testament to read first where they didn’t! Like supporting Darlington, being on the journey of discipleship requires faith and grace. The faith to believe God is who He says He is in EVERY situation and the grace of God to save us and deliver us when we get it wrong. There are many times I need a full on kick up the backside from God to sort my own faith out, but then there is this story that I love in the New Testament, that reminds me in the chaos of life, sometimes we just need a gentle shoulder!
In Matthew we read these words, “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
You can imagine it can’t you, Peter stepping out onto the water, walking towards Jesus and with every passing step he would be thinking about how incredible this was and that all things were possible with Him. Peter, full of faith, is walking on water, making his way to Jesus...wow!!! Until that moment when he gets distracted by what’s going on around him, which makes him afraid of the wind, causes him to panic and begin to drown...how often do we do the same? We can be full of faith one minute and then overcome with fear and doubt the next, but what does Jesus do here? He simply takes Peter by the hand, walks him back to the boat and gently asks on the way across the water, “Peter, why did you doubt?” He doesn’t scream and shout at Peter, doesn’t just let him drown for his lack of faith, doesn’t turn His back on him! Instead, Jesus takes Peter by the hand step by step, back aboard the boat where everyone, including Peter can see that Jesus truly is the Son of God! What faith, belief and praise must have followed on the rest of that journey.
Be encouraged that faith is a journey, that there will always be moments of unrivaled praise and worship, times when you believe all things are possible for Him who made us, when you feel closer to God than you have ever felt. Also remember that life will throw up storms, where you too will feel like you are drowning, like God isn’t there and if it causes us to doubt. In those moments, allow Jesus to take your hand and guide you back to the boat. It’s a crazy journey, but it’s a worthwhile because God is who He says He is and He will never let you down and He will never let you go, His grace is sufficient for us all, at all times and in all situations! Just remember to keep talking to Him, to keep lifting His name up high and watch as He works through you!