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The Rock

Guest Blogger: Tiana Akers

It's long... it's sooooooo long and I'm so sorry!

On June 25th, 2016, I stood on the shore of Coca Beach at night looking at the moon hovering over the horizon line. At this particular moment in time I received news that left my heart throbbing with pain. My breath was short, my head was spinning, and crying seemed to be the only physical thing I could do. A good friend of mine walked along the shore with me as I processed a new wave of disappointment, rejection, hurt, disrespect and abandonment. I looked to her, asked for a moment alone, and proceeded to walk a few feet into the water. As the tiny waves gently brushed my feet and the sounds of the crashing waters filled the air, I took a deep breath and stared at the barely visible horizon line. The moon was bright and illuminated just enough to make out the shadows of this vast ocean of which I could only see a portion. I’d spent the entire weekend on this beach developing new friendships, finding myself, and learning more and more about the God of the universe. He and I started a journey just a few months prior, but now He brought me to a place where I knew what I had to do. Through the tears rolling down my cheek with hardly any voice, I softly cried to him and said, “Father… I will leave everything on this shore. I will leave it all here and go as far into this ocean as you want me to go. Just please. Don’t. Leave. Me.”

I wish I could say what happened next was something that is only seen in a movie. That a shooting star traveled across the sky. That the moon flickered for a moment. That a dove landed by my feet. None of that happened. So what did happen? I cried more and let it all out, and then peace took over my anxious thoughts. Peace that said, “Everything is as it should be. Take my hand and let’s go into this ocean together.” Figuratively y’all…not literally. I did NOT proceed to walk into the ocean. But I accepted what was, turned back to my friend and walked back to our hotel, a new sense of hope stirring in me. Not hope that everything would go my way, but hope that everything was going to be okay.

Fast forward to a few days ago. I’m sitting with two amazing women and the next thing I know, I’m sobbing to them. The previous week had brought many many trials. My mentor is comforting me and telling me how right now I’m being hit with one wave after the other. Suddenly I had a vision. Not one of those everything fades and before me I see, hear, taste and smell a new thing. No. Just a very vivid image in my mind of an ocean. After all, just seven months (and some change) ago, I told God I would go as far into the ocean as He wanted me to. At this point, I’m pretty far out in the ocean! But I figured I would be walking on water, skipping even! Instead, the sky is grey and the clouds are thick and ominous and the waves are violent. I’m hit with one wave and I go under, holding my breath. I surface. Just before I can take another breath…another wave. Under I go again, but it hurts to keep holding my breath. I resurface and exhale…inhale…boom! Another wave, this time filing my lungs with water. I cough and try to keep afloat and yet another wave hits, this one stinging my eyes with it’s saltiness. Over and over, wave after wave they come. “LORD! THIS IS NOT WHAT I MEANT WHEN I SAID I WOULD GO!!!!” ….. Ohhh it never is, is it? As I’m visioning this, my mentor goes on to remind me of something said at our Bible study lecture that morning. “We do not run from circumstances. We hold His hand through them.”

A rock. I kid you not. Now there is a rock in the middle of this ocean… but hey, it’s something. So I grab on… and I am holding on for dear life. As wave after wave hits, I cling to this rock for safety. It’s all I have…..

I find it interesting that’s the vision I would have considering my declaration to God about going deep into the ocean with Him. It’s as if He knew what was to come…huh… go figure. But I want to take this to the Bible and explain why this vision is so important to me and how I hope it can help someone else who may be reading this going through whatever trial you’re going through.

THE ROCK (Y’all, I LOVE how God has created everything to symbolize Himself, ourselves, our trials. Every bit of creation is used to help us see Him)

Rocks have some major meaning in scripture. The word is used 142 times in scripture, typically referring to God. A lot of imagery uses rock to describe the Lord. Psalm 18:2, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” He is referred to as the rock of strength (Isaiah 17:10) or the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2). Rock was often a place of refuge, providing shelter or shade. Rock also represented hardness, demonstrating the power of God who breaks the rock. Rock is also a symbol of endurance. Refuge, shelter, comfort, power, endurance. So… here’s this rock in the middle of my ocean. What’s awesome about that? Ever see those beautiful photos of those massive rocks in the ocean in like California I believe? Other places too, but that’s what I remember. What we see is the top…but it goes deep. It goes all the way down until it blends with the earth. It’s solid. It’s a foundation. The rock. Won’t. Move. So here I am being tossed about in the ocean and what does God give me? His hand. A rock. A solid foundation to which I can cling to for safety, shelter, strength, comfort. And it’s not going anywhere. It won’t be moved. HE won’t be moved. I can hold on to this rock as wave after wave hits and it will remain steady. It won’t let me go. But hang on…it gets better…..

PETER!!!!!!!! Whaaaaaaaat? Random, right? Except not! What does Jesus say to/about Peter????? Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Remember up until now he was Simon, son of John. But because of his bold declaration “YOU ARE GOD,” (Matthew 16:16), a declaration that would have been punishable by death, he is then given the name Peter (Cephas…meaning rock). Peter means rock! Ok…cool…where are you going with this T-Square???? It all comes back to the ocean!

Ok…not really an ocean. It was a sea…more so a really big lake. But it’s big! And it’s a stormy night, the waves are going nuts and the disciples are freaking out. As they look out upon the water they see a ghost! Ok it’s Jesus, but they THINK it’s a ghost. Bla bla bla, some conversation later, whoooooo steps out into the water? Who says, “Tell me to come out there to you!”? It rhymes with Peter…. PETER!!!!! Peter… Cephas… rock. ROCK. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THE ROCK IS NOW IN THE OCEAN! But…slight glitch. Peter takes notice of the storm around him, becomes filled with fear and begins to sink. So what does he do? He cries out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:31-32 “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said. ‘Why did you doubt.’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.” So here’s the funny thing… Jesus rescued him. Great, awesome. But…they climbed back into the boat. So like, one of two things had to happen here. Either Peter stood up again and walked on water once more, this time WITH Jesus, OR, Jesus carried him back. Peter was never left alone.

So what’s my point in this? What’s the direct correlation?

GOD CALLS US TO DEEP WATERS AND IT’S SCARY. As lovely and as comforting as the shore is, He has no intention of us staying there. He wants us to step out into the waters. Go deep into the ocean. And the truth is when you get out there, you are going to find storms, and storms are strongest when they are over the waters (scientific fact, I won’t go into full explanation so I can spare you another 20 minutes of reading. Which, by the way, thank you for sticking with me this far). It’s not going to be easy. You will be hit with wave after wave after wave of trials and hardships and hurt and lies. But that is where God is calling you to.
GOD WALKS WITH US. Matthew 14:31 says Jesus IMMEDIATELY reached out his hand. He didn’t just stand there and stare at Peter while he sank below the surface of the water. No! He immediately extended His hand and Peter grabbed on. Mind you, the following verse tells us that the winds didn’t calm down UNTIL they climbed into the boat. This probably means that as they were heading back to safety, the storm was still raging. Jesus didn’t take away the storm. He walked with Peter THROUGH the storm. 
GOD IS THE ROCK. Two chapters later, Peter would declare Jesus as Lord and become the rock upon which Jesus would build His church. Obviously Peter is not a literal rock nor was any sort of structure built on top of him or in his name. So what did Jesus mean? Peter made a statement and a bold one at that. Like I stated earlier, he was calling Jesus God which in those times was a sin punishable by death. Peter was putting his life on the line. But I suppose if I walked on water and had Jesus save me, I would probably make the same declaration. It was Peter’s faith that changed his name. I believe it is on this faith that Jesus plants his church. Not the building in which we gather to fellowship and worship, but the Spirit and the foundation. I believe Jesus was saying that our faith, our declaration that He is Lord, is the foundation on which we build our church, our relationship with God. Our declaration of faith becomes this rock which we can hold on to in a sea of crazy storms.

So if you’ve journeyed out into the water, and you are hit with wave upon wave of trials and tribulation, know that your faith is something you can call upon. The name of Jesus is one you can use and immediately, He will be that rock in the middle of your ocean. He won’t make the storm go away, but He will be there for you to hold on to for shelter and comfort as it passes by. And you will either walk on water again…or He will carry you back to safety.

Tiana Akers

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