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  • Writer's pictureJason E. Fort

A Test of Faith - Don't Lose Sight of What We Ask For

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I was inspired by an old friend, and one of my son's mentors growing up, as he spoke to FCA for about fifteen minutes this morning. He talked about the story of Jesus and His disciples, when the disciples saw Jesus walking out on the stormy sea, and thought he was a ghost. He made special reference to Peter, and how he was the only disciple who dared to test Jesus. But what Peter really did was ask the Son of Man to test him. Observe from the book of Matthew:

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

---- (Matthew 14:28, NIV)

It was a test of faith, whether Peter realized it or not.

"Come," He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus." ---- (Matthew 14:29, NIV)

Can you imagine what that was like? Have you ever asked God to guide you on your path in life, and decided for yourself to take conscientious steps forward on a certain path because you were doing it for God? When you felt like it was the right decision, did it not feel like you were doing what God wills for your life, because you devoted that action to Jesus?

But wait - do you think Peter felt pretty confident at first, when he trusted in Jesus' words, and found himself to begin to WALK ON WATER? Talk about a confidence booster... at first.

Sometimes, we think everything is hunky-dory when we start off on sure footing. But then we have misplaced confidence. We take our attention off the One that got us there, and we start to struggle. My friend's message made me think about that. He forced me to reflect back on my life.

I thought about when I was in college, and I knew what an impact both my grandmother and my mom made in the field of teaching. I thought God had put me in a position at Erskine College to put me on a similar path. When I first started teaching, I was focused more on glorifying God every day in some way, even if it just meant being a positive male role model to students. But I let things distract me from my work, both at work and at home. I let things creep into my sight, kind of like the crashing waves that took Peter's focus off Jesus. And slowly but surely, my education career began to sink. Once I was aware of the problem, I had to reach out a hand to Jesus, to get me back in the boat.

Then I started again for the YMCA, and just knew that one day I could make that positive impact on the community where I grew up one day, in the organization that helped raise me...the Young Men's Christian Association. Once again, I started out on fire for working for God through my work as a Wellness Director and Youth Sports Director. This time I even got to rely on my background in the church, and my slowly maturing Christian faith. I got to even share that faith publicly at times, not having to worry about separation of church and state. But as one major door on my career path was slammed in my face, I felt like I was drowning again. I stopped putting in the effort. I began to be quite disagreeable and even apathetic towards everything, including my family, and I knew something had to change. This time, it was like Jesus had to squat down and actually lay down on the water to reach under and grab my arm before I sank to the bottom. Back in the boat I went.

Then I prayed. I listened to other people and some of their advice on where I might make a good fit. I prayed for revelation. I remembered a childhood dream that I had blown off a long time before, thinking I would never be able to do something like law enforcement. Then I prayed some more for wisdom. I did research about law enforcement. I had people telling me I would make a great police officer, both at church and at the restaurant and bar where I worked security. I prayed with my wife. I told her about some of the things I needed to really consider before going into law enforcement; I wanted her to know what she would be getting into, being the spouse of a police officer. I wanted to also influence my young son at the time, who had young, innocent dreams of serving his country in uniform one day. My wife was so supportive, and she has been my rock ever since. Although it has not been an easy path, my faith has grown stronger and stronger during my career in law enforcement, and that has given me strength and hope in this career, despite certain failures along the way. In some sense, I think God rewarded some of my focus and perseverence by placing me in the perfect job, at the perfect school for my personality. Before that, I found myself in a unique training postition that also catered to all my strengths. And yet, even now, perhaps my focus on Jesus has still not been as sharp as it needs to be. My strong side hip has caused more and more pain; it has forced a permanent limp in my gait (though Wing Chun and hurrying after someone can still be done with smiling grunts), and I feel ten years older than my actual age from my lower back down. There are days when I feel like God reached out and touched my hip, just like He did Jacob before he crossed the river to catch up with his family and belongings on the way to see his brother Esau. The sinking feeling that Peter may have experienced before the Lord helped him up, has crept back into my life.

So what am I doing, as I think out loud in paragraphs typed on a screen?

I still strive to persevere in the place where God placed me. I have too much love for the kids and coworkers in my life to just give up - but I also pray fervently every morning in the patrol car. My focus has sharpened. What will it mean, when I finally take the plunge to answer a call that has slowly been churning through nine years of writing books, and exploring more and more knowledge of faith in Jesus? Become a chaplain, I answer - and why not? One of the first classes I have taken has stringently emphasized the importance of chaplains in our military. I am the grandson to a World War Two Veteran who came back from the Pacific and still pursued a dream to answer the call of ministry as a pastor. Why should I not try to honor his legacy? No, it won't be on the physical battlefield, but I will set out to help those who wear the badge. Especially the guys on the road; they face a different battle every day, mostly against unseen forces. But I want to be there in the 'darkest hours' for whoever needs me. Chaplaincy could be the one answer I've been looking for to keep my focus on Him.

Now I am a little different from Peter. I didn't necessarily come right out and request a test of my faith. But maybe it was an unwritten requirement as I've come along in this simple life I've made. For many years, I thought my faith was surely the one thing that is strong enough. My body might not have ever been as strong as I wanted, I said to myself, so I stayed in the weightroom all the time. But surely this faith, that has been engrounded into my very being, my heart and soul - surely it's strong enough? I honestly think I am truly about to find out. We saw what happened when Peter took his eyes off the Lord. I've experienced little metaphorical drowning moments myself, in this simple life. Maybe the Good Lord has been trying to tell me something all along.

What about you? Is our faith ever really strong enough? Have you ever asked for your own faith to be tested? If not, when or if you do, remember to stay focused on Christ. I know that is what I will continue to improve upon every day.

Food for thought on this 18th of April, 2024. God bless you all-


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