Happy New Year, and SURPRISE! Welcome to my new blogging home, The Life I Need!
What does The Life I Need mean?
While I loved Hallelujah is My Song, it was tough for people to remember/spell. When I was praying about what I wanted my blog’s new home to be, I had two criteria for choosing the name:
- Easy to remember/spell
- Personally inspiring every time I type it in
The Holy Spirit delivered big time!
When I was riding home from a funeral last year, I put on a podcast of Fr. John Riccardo’s Christ is the Answer. Party people, if you’ve never listened to Fr. John Riccardo, you’re in for a treat. Go, download his podcasts, and come back to tell me all about it! Back to the Fr. Riccardo podcast…He was preaching about the problem of pain and suffering in a way that I had never heard before. His preaching was inspired by the story of Jesus walking on the sea in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 14:22-33). As Fr. Riccardo says, this Gospel reading is “remarkably relevant” for our times. Fr. Riccardo’s words are so inspiring that I transcribed them here. Please, do yourself a favor, and read the entire thing. Better yet, listen to his podcast if you’d like to hear Fr. Riccardo deliver the message himself.
Fr. Riccardo opens by praying,
Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, send your Holy Spirit now upon us all. Help our ears to be attentive now to Your voice and to those things that You wish to say to each of us. Put Your words in my mouth, that I might get out of Your way. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
That’s my prayer as a writer. Lord, put Your words in this blog, that I might get out of Your way.
After that opening prayer, Fr. Riccardo jumps into the story of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. Chapter 14 in the Gospel of Matthew opens with Jesus miraculously feeding the 5,000. Immediately after, we read that Jesus “made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds” (Matthew 14:22). I cannot emphasize that verse enough. Jesus made the disciples get into the boat. He knew exactly what was going to happen to them, and He allowed it to happen to them.
As the disciples obediently started to cross Galilee in the boat, Jesus “went up into the hills by himself to pray” (Matthew 14:23). This is an image of the Church today. As Jesus’ disciples, we get into the boat. We don’t know what storms lie ahead, but we trust that He will guide us safely home.
Scripture scholars and the Church Fathers tell us that the sea that Jesus walked on was the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is relatively narrow, so it should not have taken the disciples, some of whom were fishermen by trade, very long to cross to the other side. They likely left shore around 6 o’clock in the evening. Shortly after setting out, they found themselves caught in terrifyingly strong storm, and the boat was “beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them” (Matthew 14:24). Fr. Riccardo that the translation from the Greek into English minimizes the intensity of the storm. He says, “The Greek word actually means, ‘tortured,’ by the waves, ‘harassed,’ by the waves.”
Then, Christ comes to them during the fourth watch of the night. First century Jews split the evening hours into four watches of three hours each, so that means that Jesus would have come to them between 3 and 6 in the morning. If we remember that the disciples set out around 6 p.m., that means that they battled the storm for 10 to 12 hours. Understandably, they are freaked out when they see Jesus, who they think is a ghost, walking to them on the water. He says, “Courage. It’s I. Do not be afraid.” Fr. Riccardo says the Greek literally means, “I forbid you from fearing for one more second.”
Peter says, “Lord, if that’s really You, call me, and let me walk.” So, Jesus invites him out onto the water, and Peter walks on water! Then, Peter does exactly what I would have done. Fr. Riccardo describes the scene like this:
And, so long as his eyes are up, so long as his eyes are on Jesus, Peter walks. But the Gospel says that he began to see the wind, to look around at the waves, to see the lightning, to hear the thunder. And the moment his eyes are off of Jesus and on the circumstances around him, again, our translation is a little pathetic. It says he, ‘sank.’ He didn’t sink. It’s more literally he ‘plunged into the depths of the sea and he drowned.’ And as he’s drowning, he cries out, ‘Lord, save me!’ And Jesus immediately grabs him with his grip and jerks him up out of the lake. And then Peter hears these words from Jesus. ‘Oh, you of little faith. Why did you doubt?’
I used to hear Jesus’ words to Peter like a rebuke, but Fr. Riccardo makes the case that Christ is more likely pleading with Peter.
Son, why’d ya doubt? What were you afraid of? Don’t you know Me? Don’t you know your life is in my hands? Don’t you know my grace is sufficient for everything? Don’t you know that I am greater than this storm? Don’t you see how much I care?
That change in tone from a rebuke to a plea changes everything. It changes Christ from some angry, sadistic God on a power trip to an all-loving, all-knowing, all-merciful Father.
So, what could that possibly have to do with any of us? Huh, well, we want life to be easy, don’t we? Life is never easy. We live in the illusion that once this is over, things will settle down. But after this, that comes. And after that, something else comes. All of life is a storm. We are constantly ‘assaulted,’ ‘harassed,’ ‘tortured,’ by waves, meaning we have endless opportunities to be afraid and to be anxious. And Jesus says to you and me right now, in the midst of whatever storms are going on in our lives, ‘Eyes up. Put ’em on me.’
When I consider my sin, I drown. When I consider my health or the health of those I love, I drown. When I consider all the pressures that are on me at work, I drown. When our eyes are on any of the many things that are going on all around us, we just plunge into the depths of the sea and begin to sink.
Storms are a given. They will not end, and, in fact, God, in His great love and in His severe mercy, sends them. He sent the disciples into the storm. He wanted to remind them that they are in need. He wants to remind us that we are in need. But even more so, he wants to remind us that we have a Savior, and His love for us is beyond anything that we can imagine. And His power is literally beyond all comprehension.
Let’s pray for ourselves and for each other, mindful that we are all getting ‘harassed’ by the waves. Let’s pray that the Lord would keep our eyes up, fixed on Him, on His cross, on His mercy, on His power. Let’s pray that He would banish from us, by His grace, and by His power, all fear and all anxiety.
That, my friends, is what The Life I Need is all about.
If you peek at the header of the blog, you’ll see a boat. The boat is there to remind me that even though my life is pretty darn blessed, God will allow and even send storms into my life–just like He did for the disciples that he commanded to get into the boat. On the other side of the header, you’ll see a symbol combining Christ’s cross, His Sacred Heart, and an anchor. This is to remind me that when I put those storms to work, when I actively unite them to His cross, and when I put my trust in His Sacred Heart, I will be anchored in Him. He will allow the storms and the waves to “assault,” “harass,” and “torture” me, but he will not let me drown. He may not always give me the life that I want, but He will always send me The Life I Need. As I work to perfect within myself those virtues of hope, faith, and love, I will be able to imitate the disciples in the boat who, after having endured a dark, stormy night, were able to worship Christ, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
At The Life I Need, I’ll share the good, the bad, and the ugly of my life. A lot of it will just be the ordinary, everyday musings of a homemaker from Nebraska. I’ll share stories about the other people in my boat–my precious family and friends. When the storms come, I’ll share ’em. God-willing, I’ll also share the sunshine that follows them. I’ll share the times when I’ve taken my eyes off of Jesus to look at the storm, and I’ll share my desperation when I start to drown. Then, I’ll share how Jesus mercifully reaches out His hand to save me.
I look forward to continuing to share my life with you at The Life I Need, and I hope I’ll be seeing you here on a regular basis!