Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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Reverse Psychology with Satan {On Obedience & Fear}

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The sun was going down. The air was warm and still.

Let’s go across the lake, Jesus said to his friends.

Jesus had been helping people all day and now he was tired. So they left the crowds at the shore and set out in a small fishing boat.

Jesus climbed into the boat to take a nap. As soon as his head touched the pillow, he fell fast asleep.

It was a beautiful evening. A gentle breeze rustled the sails. The friends were chatting happily as they headed out into the middle of the lake. Everything was perfect. Just right for a nice quiet sail…

They were only about halfway across when, out of nowhere, whirling winds swept across the lake, fierce and strong, like a hurricane! A blinding flash of lighting lit up the sky. Thunder roared right overhead!

The storm blew the water into towering waves that hurled the little boat up, up, up—then sent it hurling, CRASHING back down, down, down!

The fishing boat was blown and buffeted and tossed and turned—back and forth and up and down and left and right and round and round!

And in the middle of the storm, Jesus was sleeping.

Now Jesus’ friends had been fishermen all their lives, but in all their years fishing on this lake, they had never once seen a storm like this one. No matter now hard they struggled with their ropes and sails, they couldn’t control their boat. This storm was too big for them.

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Baby Eliza wiggled and twisted as her Daddy read these words tonight. I pretended to be busy, putting away clean laundry and picking up more dirty clothes. My two loves cuddled on the bed, sharing these words from our Jesus Storybook Bible.

My thoughts raced back to the darker parts of my mind. The parts where I don’t like to go.

The parts where I seem to be camped out lately, with cooling ashes and lonely wilderness—and no s’mores in sight.

I’ve played the whole I’m so excited to move to Asia card over and over. And it’s true. I really am excited about the adventure ahead of us. I’m nervous and anxious and more than ready to be settled somewhere again.

But in the mix of these emotions, there’s another one I’m not proud of: FEAR.

I feel like the apostles, just stepping into a boat to go across the lake. My lake just happens to be the Pacific Ocean.

I’m scared to death of the whirling winds of disease, the blinding lightning of break-ins, and the roaring thunder of accidents. It’s inevitable. I know it’s coming. But I fear that it will be worse than I anticipate.

In the past year or so, I’ve watched three families serving overseas experience tragic times.

My dear friends working in Peru came home on furlough to have a baby. Days after this baby boy was born, their daughter was diagnosed with an aggressive form of liver cancer requiring a transplant.

A family I admired for their work in India suffered great loss when the husband died in a Mumbai hospital from a diabetic coma. His wife and two daughters remain there trying to finalize a local adoption.

A couple in Uganda was driving down a dark two-lane road when the husband struck the back of a parked semi-truck going 50 mph. Their two-week-old daughter was killed instantly and the mother’s legs were severely broken.

It’s a storm. A storm that’s too big for me to imagine. A burden too great to bear.

I hear these stories of valiant warriors for Christ and my faith begins to waiver. I convince myself that, clearly, my lot in life is to suffer great things. And I carry around a heavy cloud that’s just bursting at the seams, ready to pelt me down with never-ending raindrops. I prepare to be swallowed whole in a torrential thunderstorm.

If I’m honest, I fear that Satan will see the obedience of my family and choose to strike us with unimaginable grief. I’m afraid Jesus will be asleep and won’t stop it before it comes.

One minute I think I’m strong. Yes, God, send me into battle!

But the next minute I’m unable to control the waterworks.

I climbed into bed this weekend, snuggling close to my husband. It hit me again how much I love that man and that’s all it took.

What if Satan sees us as a threat? What if he does something to try and hurt us? To hurt you? To make Eliza sick? What if our marriage fails? What if something happens to our families back home?

I laid face-down on his bare chest absolutely drowning it with tears and runny mascara as I described how I bargain with the Enemy.

I tell him all the time that if he tries to mess with my family, I will press on. I will continue to serve. I will never, ever curse God. My obedience will only make His name greater.

So, I figure, it makes a lot more sense to leave us alone. And then I end it with, Got that, Satan?

There’s my logic. There’s my reasoning.

It’s sounds a lot like reverse psychology with the Devil, Lauren.

Yes. He discovered my twisted way of avoiding hurt.

As I type this out, it disgusts me how weak my faith is. It terrifies me how much I long for comfort more than the cross.  I beg Satan to leave me alone so that God WON’T be more glorified. It makes more sense to leave me alone?

I have so much growing to do. And it starts with the end of this story and Jesus calming the storm.

It’s about me realizing that everything is His already. It’s about me surrendering it all from the beginning.

It’s about sharpening my faith before I truly need to use it.

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But the storm wasn’t too big for Jesus.

Help! they screamed. Wake up! Quick, Jesus!

Jesus opened his eyes.

Rescue us! Save us! they shrieked. Don’t you care?

{Of course Jesus cared, and this was the very reason he had come—to rescue them and to save them.}

Jesus stood up and spoke to the storm.

Hush! he said. That’s all.

And the strangest thing happened….

The wind and the waves recognized Jesus’ voice.

{They had heard it before, of course—it was the same voice that made them, in the very beginning.} They listened to Jesus and they did what he said.

Immediately the wind stopped. The water calmed down. It glittered innocently in the moonlight and lapped quietly against the side of the boat, as if nothing had happened.

The little boat bobbed gently up and down. There was a deep stillness and a great quiet all around.

Then Jesus turned to his wind-torn friends. Why were you scared? he asked. Did you forget who I Am? Did you believe your fears instead of me?

Jesus’ friends were quiet. As quiet as the wind and the waves. And into their hearts came a different kind of storm.

What kind of man is this? they asked themselves anxiously. Even the winds and the waves obey him! they said, because they didn’t understand. They didn’t realize yet that Jesus was the Son of God.

Jesus’ friends had been so afraid, they had only seen the big waves. They had forgotten that, if Jesus was with them, then they had nothing to be afraid of.

No matter how small their boat—or how big the storm.

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Do you have fears that you just can’t seem to shake? How have you overcome a lack of faith when you worry about your family’s safety?

Comments

comments

AprilFebruary 4, 2014 - 8:21 am

I can so identify with what you are saying here and I’m not even moving across the world. I identify with your fears of something happening to your family because you are choosing to live your life for Jesus. I cannot even imagine the pain that your friends are going through that had those horrible things happen to them. I will pray for them and for you. We love the Jesus Storybook Bible too. We read through it all around Christmas and our son, who is 3, loved it! Now when we ask him which book he wants to read he goes and picks that one out from the hundreds that we own. Makes me so proud!

Clifton CorneliusFebruary 4, 2014 - 8:46 am

i deal with this fear at times too. Thank you for being honest. Jesus is with us. Bless you & your family.

Lauren PinkstonFebruary 4, 2014 - 10:15 am

Thanks, Clifton. Jesus IS with us. It’s nice that he sends us reminders, isn’t it? Blessings to you as well!

Lauren PinkstonFebruary 4, 2014 - 10:17 am

Thank you for your prayers, for us and for these families. I’m so glad you’ve found the Jesus Storybook Bible – it’s such a great resource for our kids, but I’m learning so much from it, too! It’s put everything into perspective for me in that ‘every story whispers his name.’ Thank you so much for the dialogue!

Ashley Nichole WilliamsFebruary 21, 2014 - 1:21 am

I’m so humbled by this blog… it’s really increasing my hunger for God and makes me want to strengthen my walk with Him…