Michelle, are you really living, or are you just surviving? I know that whole TV shows have been made around the quest for survival. But is simply surviving what most of us long for? Generally not. Unless we’ve sadly given up on the possibility, we long to not only “get by,” but to have full, free, meaningful lives. We long to truly live.
But I think I picked a bad time to write on this topic… You see, I’m a worker. I somehow happen to have about three jobs at the moment and I’d say that now could qualify as the definition of “crazy” in my life if any time could. And in times like these, it’s tempting to just “survive.” Stop and smell the roses? Ain’t nobody got time for that! I mean, if I make it to next week still sane and without a bunch of things falling through the cracks, I’ll be doing well! So in times past I’d just be gritting my teeth, plowing through it, and inadvertently boarding the express train to burnout in the process.
Yeah, we can only “survive” for so long. Enough time fighting, controlling, and running like crazy while neglecting our relationships, our God, and ourselves, and eventually something within us snaps and says, “Enough is enough.” So we sign up for “over committers anonymous,” run away, blame circumstances, prioritize, downsize, or in some other way try to either escape or regain control. And to a degree, we may succeed. We may legitimately need to change some of what we’re doing so we have more time for what’s most important – more time to “live.” But I don’t believe this is the full solution.
You see, while taking on duties and expectations that the Lord’s not asking us to can definitely be a recipe for disaster (trust me…), believing that we can only truly “live” when things are smooth, quiet, and under control can be just as big of a disaster formula. Last year, after a particularly taxing time, tired and hoping for a “break,” I found myself face to face with the Biblical story of Peter walking on the water. Here’s this crazy guy, in the middle of a storm they believe is going to kill them, asking Jesus to let him walk on the water. And he does! Now he almost drowns and has to be rescued in the process, but all Jesus says to him is, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). Jesus doesn’t say, “Why didn’t you wait for me to calm the storm before you started walking?” Or, “You should have known better than to get in over your head.” Instead, He basically just says, “Don’t you believe that I’m big enough to take you through this?”
And that’s my challenge: Do I really believe that my God is big enough to take me through this? Because if I don’t, I will always live in fear of the storms. I will always be controlled by the circumstances or futilely fighting to save myself from them like the disciples in the boat. I will always be struggling for survival.
But on the other hand, if my God is truly big enough to take me through any storm, what CAN’T I do? In fact, maybe I can truly relax, truly enjoy, truly live. Just like Jesus sleeping peacefully in the boat during the raging tempest of Mark 4 or walking right on top of it in Matthew 14, I believe God wants us to live in secure confidence – whether in my preferred shallow kiddie pool, or in the midst of the deepest, darkest ocean. And in that trust, there’s freedom.
So today, in the midst of the crisis, will I choose to trust? Will I choose to risk my survival? To go through the storm – not avoid it, not attempt to control it? Will I choose freedom? Freedom to quit surviving. Freedom to live.