Today in our series about trusting God in deep waters, we welcome Anne Rice. She is a woman of steady faith in an everyday world. So often we think deep waters have to be something raging, something major and dramatic. When in reality the simple streams we traverse all the time can be the place God uses to show us faith. Please join us in welcoming Anne!
Simon Peter answered him, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:68
Imagine a small stream, with gently flowing water. Then imagine stones in that stream, some big, some smaller, some smooth, some jagged, others crooked. I am walking through that stream, walking, hopping, sometimes leaping from one stone to another, as the Lord calls me onward and forward.
Sometimes the water flows over my feet and I can’t see the stone ahead of me. Sometimes the water is so murky and dark, I am almost sure there is no stone to step on as He beckons to me. But indeed, there is.
That’s what my faith journey looks like, at least in my mind’s eye.
It’s not a very exciting picture, really. Not very adventurous. Just a steady path through life. Perhaps a storm here and there, making it hard to know where to step next without slipping and falling. My husband likes to joke that his testimony is a lot like bologna on white bread. Pretty boring. Mine is very similar, just simple faith that sprouted when we were young and started to grow in earnest when we were in college.
But it has been in the “everydayness” of life that we have discovered Jesus and learned to hold on to him – through hopes deferred, through times of confusion, through difficult work situations, through the joys and challenges of raising kids.
At some point during my journey, a passage in John 6 became especially meaningful to me. I’m not sure how I even discovered the passage or why it “stuck.” But I have come back to it over and over again. As I ponder that stream, going from stone to stone, I like to think of many of them as “John 6 stones.”
In this entire chapter, Jesus gives what some of his disciples called a “hard teaching.” He calls himself the bread (manna) that came down from heaven, and that “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” (John 6:54)
We as the modern church have a frame of reference for this and immediately think of communion. But the early disciples were confused. I can just see them, looking at each other, scratching their heads. “Eat his flesh? Drink his blood? Huh?”
Some of his followers left at that point, leaving the journey Jesus had them on. Jesus then turned to the Twelve, his closest followers and asks, “You do not want to leave, too, do you?”
Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Peter knows. He knows who Jesus is. It’s why in spite of the “hard teaching” that other followers couldn’t quite grasp, Peter makes no move to leave. In fact, he takes a step closer to Jesus.
Throughout my own faith journey, I too, have known. I was first introduced to faith through a classmate and a neighbor who cared enough about me to lead me to Christ at 9 years old.
I never forgot those first days of faith, though it took me a decade to go my own way and come back to Jesus. Coming back was a leap of faith onto the next stone. There have been many others since then.
Like when the Lord called to me as a young single woman, struggling to make friends and find my way in a new town with a stressful job that took about everything I had. One evening, I cried out to God. John 6:68 came to my mind. I had a choice to make. Choose Jesus – again – or try to find my own way. I chose Him, because in the end, there is no other way. Such a simple moment with huge implications. Another step forward with Jesus.
There was a series of stones when my husband and I entered a season of confusion, of hopes deferred and of waiting. We look back and aren’t quite sure how we made it, but we did. Most of the time it felt like we were standing still while the water rushed over our feet and couldn’t see the way. But we kept moving forward in the things the Lord asked us to do. And God was faithful. We leaned in to who we knew He was and He guided our steps.
Right now, the stepping stones of faith seem very small and sometimes insignificant. Life revolves around my two boys, ages 2 and 4. It’s a life of potty-training, breaking up squabbles, bedtime routines and swimming lessons. Hopping to the next stone looks like biting my tongue and showing tenderness when I’d rather get angry. It looks like saying “yes” when my 2-year-old asks me to read him a story when I’d rather lie down and rest. Dying to my flesh, yes. But more days than not, it feels so much like bologna on white bread.
Every once in a while, God shows me the beauty of these stepping stones of faith. I have a ritual with both of my sons. I’ll say, “How much does mommy love you?” They’ll stretch out their arms as wide as they can go. “This much!” they answer. “Who loves you more?” I say next. Without hesitation, they both say, “Jesus.” They know at 2 and 4 what took me decades to understand and make my own. That is the faithfulness of God.
A stream of “John 6” stones.
Anne Cumming Rice is a freelance writer living in Highlands Ranch, CO. She spent 10 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter and five years teaching college journalism. The loves of her life are Jesus, her husband and their two sons. She enjoys photography, the outdoors, travel and preserving memories through scrapbooking and mixed media.
You can connect with Anne on her blog: The Other Anne Rice as well as on Facebook. She would love to hear about your journey along the stream.