by Pastor Tim Burt
Note from Pastor Tim: This Fresh Manna was written by my daughter, Stephanie Gutierrez. She and her husband are pastors and missionaries along with their two daughters (my granddaughters of course) in the developing country of Peru. Poverty is steep and the country relatively poor. As non-Peruvian citizens, they are not allowed to make an income in Peru. And so they survive as missionaries by support from churches and individuals. This and other mission work are an extension of what we do through Tim and Renee Burt Ministries. I hope you’ll be blessed by her post today!
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:38-39
I woke up at 4:30 AM to go the bathroom, and when I lifted up the faucet handle to turn on the water to wash my hands, all I heard was a dry, scratching, hollow sound. And all I saw was nothing. No water. Not a drop.
To give you some background, our house has had more water issues than “Carter’s got liver pills,” as my grandma says. Whether it has been the tubes busting, the water tank frying out, the water company shutting off the neighborhood water, or a city sewage backup, we have lost water for sometimes hours, sometimes days on end, so many times I can’t count. And no matter how many times it happens, most times it still initially throws me for a loop.
In those moments, I feel panicky, powerless, angry, frustrated and honestly, flat-out terrified.
All these water-less moments came to a head in 2017 when Lima, which usually gets less than half an inch of water a year, got more than ten times that. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes, many died, and nearly the entire city lost water to their homes and businesses for roughly five days.
I will never forget the fear and uncertainty we all felt.
Toilets couldn’t be flushed. Showers couldn’t be taken. Priority was just finding water to drink. And it got to the point that grocery stores ran out of water to sell. I remember the joy of, after driving to three different supermarkets, finally finding one would sell me two 7 liters.
Understandably, I’ve never looked at water the same way.
We haven’t lost water since then, thankfully. A year and half with no water issues has been glorious. Until the other day.
And that morning, at 4:30 AM, all of the emotions came flooding back. My heart began pounding. My body began trembling. My mind began racing.
Even though logically, I knew everything would eventually be ok, my body couldn’t seem to be convinced. And neither could my emotions.
I crawled back into bed and lay there for the next two hours, weaving in and out of water nightmares, quietly repeating over and over to myself, “You’re not in danger. You’re not in danger.”
When I finally couldn’t take laying there anymore and got out of bed, I felt so frustrated with myself. I’ve been through this before! I know we will survive! It might take a while––maybe even a few days––to find a solution, but we will. So WHY AM I FEELING THESE EMOTIONS?! Do I not trust God to take care of me?
Right then, I realized something. Something I’ve subconsciously believed for years but never was really aware of.
I believed that the mature Christian life was devoid of negative emotions. Sure, we mature Christians can and should experience joy, faith, and peace––but anger, fear, and sadness? Those were for the newbies and faint of heart.
It sounds ridiculously to that say out loud. And I certainly never would have counseled anyone that way, but for some reason, I believed it was true for me.
The anxiety I felt that morning I saw as a sign of weakness. A sign of my lack of faith. Because if I really had trusted God, I would have just reacted like this: “Oh, the water went out again? No big deal. God’s got this. I’m not worried a bit! Been here, done this before.”
That is how SO DESPERATELY I wished I had reacted! I did get to a place of peace several hours later, but I wished I had walked in perfect peace from the moment I had realized what was happening. But I didn’t, and I felt like a failure.
The Christian life isn’t the emotionless life. It’s not the robotic life, the plastic, cartoon-perfect life. It’s a REAL life. The real, perfect Jesus filtered through the real, imperfect me.
No, Jesus doesn’t want me to live in panic or fear. Of course, he wants me to trust him, because he sees the big picture and knows I’ll be ok. But he also understands me.
And feeling fear while choosing faith doesn’t make me weak. It makes me strong.
Jesus, when in the Garden of Gethsamane, with beads of anxiety rolling down his face and thoughts whirling around in his mind, chose faith.
The acknowledgement of the intense feelings we are experiencing can make the decision to trust, despite our emotions, even that much more powerful.
And each time I choose to trust, with the beads of anxiety rolling, I grow in that trust. I am maturing. I am learning. I am seeing how God is greater than my feelings, wiser than my thoughts, and so much bigger than my fears.
Feelings may come but they don’t define me, they don’t control me, and they don’t decide for me. I won’t pretend they aren’t there; instead I will acknowledge them and then choose despite them.
In fear, I choose faith. In sadness, I choose joy. In desperation, I choose hope.
Yes, I feel. But then, I decide.
(Oh, and the water problem was fixed later on that evening. *breathes sigh of relief)
Psalm 42:5 (NLT2) “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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