“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
On November 27, 2019, a strong storm with high winds and massive waves struck Lake Michigan. The storm uncovered a shipwreck that had been buried for over a hundred years.
A storm has a way of bringing things under the surface out into the open. This isn’t only true in Lake Michigan; it’s also true in our lives. A storm may uncover issues in our hearts that weren’t visible until the storm hits.
In Matthew 14:22-31, Jesus told his disciples to cross the lake without him. While they were sailing, a storm came up, with strong winds and high waves. About 3:00 in the morning, they saw Jesus coming toward their boat, walking on the water.
Peter, impulsive as always, asked Jesus to let him walk on the water, too. Jesus gave Peter the OK, and Peter jumped over the side of the boat. He didn’t sink. Just like Jesus, he walked on the water.
Peter had enough faith to jump off the boat. But when he started noticing the violence of the storm, his faith wavered. The blasting wind and crashing waves were too much for Peter. He doubted, and he began to sink. Jesus said, “You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?”
Peter had a heart issue that needed attention—faith that wavered during the storm.
Isn’t it that way for all of us from time to time? On the surface, we seem to be doing well. We help little old ladies across the street and are kind to animals. We have a freakishly-upbeat attitude. We blast worship music and sport our Jesus t-shirts.
Until the storm hits. We lose a job. We battle an illness. The mortgage is due, and we have no money to pay it. We find ourselves stressed out, surly, impatient, and afraid. We snap equally at those we love and the slow drivers who annoyingly won’t get out of our way. We let the old ladies cross the road alone and we yell at the dog to get out of our way. We’re OK when we’re safe in the boat, but we’re not OK in the storm.
In the storm, issues of the heart rise to the surface and become visible, both to us and to others. During a storm is the perfect time to examine the condition of our hearts. Is our faith, confidence, joy, and patience strong in the face of the storm? Or does the storm cause fear, anger, bitterness, or resentment in our hearts?
When heart issues come to the surface, we can pray as David prayed in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
God is in the heart business. He creates clean hearts. He renews hearts that have fallen back into old, negative attitudes. We can safely open our hearts to God. When we do, he will lovingly clean and renew our hearts, giving us strength and faith through the bad times as well as the good times.
Lord, help me with my heart. Help me notice when I have an issue with anger, a lack of faith, bitterness, or anything else that keeps my heart from belonging completely to you. Make my heart clean. Renew my spirit. Fill my heart with faith, peace, and joy. In Jesus’s name, amen.