Steven Furtick - Winded
Matthew, chapter 14, verse 22: "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn…" In the last watch of the night. The King James talks about the "last watch of the night". "…Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It's a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.'"
This is irrational. I don't care if it is you, Jesus. It's weird that you're walking on water, so I'm still freaked out, even if you are the Son of God. Watch this. This is the part of the story that usually gets preached about, and it's the part I'm going to preach about too, because it's good. "'Lord, if it's you,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water.' 'Come,' he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!' 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". I'm going to give this message a one-word title. I'm calling this message Winded.
Help us, Holy Spirit. Penetrate through the surface. Get deep inside where you can do your work. In Jesus' name, amen.
I know you're tired. You can be seated. Take a seat. Take a rest. Are y'all tired? I mean generally in life. Are you tired? How many of y'all work out so you can have extra energy? How many of y'all work out consistently? How many of y'all work out semi-consistently? How many of y'all are going to start in January with the workout plan and enjoy the rest of the year? I have a confession to make. All right? Here's my confession: I work out a lot. I don't believe in cardio. I like lifting weights…heavy weights too. I was in there squatting big weights the other day, proud of myself. Nobody was in there to see it but me, but I promise you I was squatting a lot of weight the other day. Good form too, going down really deep. I can bench press pretty good. I can move some pretty good weights. I'm not saying I could enter a competition or anything like that. I'm 42. And I do have a lot of injuries going on, and I think I'm going to be on Celebrex for the next 17 years.
The point I'm trying to make is I like lifting heavy stuff, but when I went out to play pickleball with Elijah the other night, because he's got me on pickleball now… Do y'all play pickleball? He figured out really quickly how to beat me: make me run. No amount of biceps, triceps, trapezoids, quadriceps… None of it matters when it comes to lung capacity. The fact of the matter is when I got out there on the court, even though I work out four days a week, five days a week, six days a week… Sometimes I work out every day. I mean, just every day I'll get in there and do something. So why am I out of breath? Why am I huffing and puffing around this court like I weigh 820 pounds, like I'm on one of those intervention shows you see where the person can't get out of the bed? Why am I huffing and puffing like it's my last breath? Yeah, no cardio. Right. Thanks. It's an illustration, lady. (It's supposed to be the volunteers tonight. I have hecklers.) I'm out there for five minutes, and all the strength training in the world isn't doing anything for me. I'm winded. Once he figured that out…Bam! Bam! Bam! If he can make me move enough, I'm out.
Now, I'm probably exaggerating the point, but it's kind of hilarious that I invest so much time into what I call exercise, and I have a 17-year-old wearing me out on a pickleball court. This isn't even a full tennis court. This isn't like the US Open or something like that. It's pickleball. How many of y'all don't even know what pickleball is? I'm out there playing pickleball, just huffing and puffing and blowing stuff down. Anyway, that's not the kind of winded I want to talk about, but I want you to get the feel about it today, because some of you came in like that. The Devil figured you out. He figured out if he can get you running, Bam! Boom! Although you're really, really good at Sundays, sometimes your lack of cardio, Christian cardio, tells on you. Do you know what never crossed my mind all of the times I've preached on Peter getting up and walking to Jesus on the water?
Let me tell you something right now. I have given Peter a thorough investigation, this incident in his life. I don't know why I never thought of this, but I never really stopped to think about how tired the disciples were at the moment that Jesus finally showed up. First of all, they rowed all night, not with any kind of motor. Secondly (this is not quite as obvious, but I think it's worth pointing out), they just finished feeding 20,000 people. "I thought it was 5,000". Five thousand men and women and children. Twenty thousand is conservative. If Larry Brey was counting that, he'd call it 50,000. He has no integrity with numbers. Every other area I trust him, but with a number? Nuh-uh. Cut it in half, divide it by three. That's the number when he tells you a number. I would never let him do my budget. Ever. Love you, Skinner.
When they finished this miracle… Think about how much energy this would take. First of all, there's the fact that they weren't really planning to feed 20,000 people. Imagine the mental stress of having to feed 5,000 men and women and children when you really didn't know where it was coming from to begin with. Even though what God did… I don't want to stay here too long because it's not the real message, but I want to bring you into the miracle honestly. Even though it was amazing what Jesus did by feeding this hungry crowd, it was still exhausting. It was exciting. "We just saw the most incredible thing that Jesus did. I mean, he just kept breaking off pieces. Every time we thought we would run out, we would come back to him, and he would give us more, and we would take it to them and come back to him. It was amazing". But it had to be exhausting.
One Easter, we had about eight or nine worship services just at the campus where I was preaching live. The day after Easter, I couldn't get out of bed. The next day I couldn't get out of bed. Back then, before I had any good sense to play a video so I can be around past age 45, I'd preach all of them live, one after another. About Tuesday or Wednesday, when I still couldn't get my energy up, I started to feel like I wasn't honoring God, because he had done such an amazing thing. I think we had 2,000 people give their lives to Christ that Easter. I was excited/exhausted. I was so happy what God did. I was so thankful that he let us see it. I was so amazed I got to be a part of something of that magnitude.
I mean, that was absolutely incredible, and I was absolutely exhausted. I thought it was a sin, but I was just winded. I thought I wasn't grateful. I thought, "I should be running around, giving God a Shabbat praise. I should be running around, clapping my hands all ye people. I should be giving God praise for what he did, and all I want to do is just lie here, because I gave everything I had to give, and I'm winded". "It was wonderful, but I'm winded". Because guess what? I had to preach the next Sunday and the next Sunday. Back then it was Saturday and Sunday. Any of y'all remember Saturday night church? See? Y'all do that with excitement. I'm having PTSD from running from the ball field over to the church on Saturday night. "I'm trying to be a good dad, but I need to be a good pastor. The people need a word from the Lord, but the kids need a dad on the sideline. I just told you everything I know about God last Saturday night, and now you want me to say something else".
I get winded. It's the worst thing in the world to have a job you have to do when you, yourself, are winded, especially when you don't want to show anybody how bad your cardiovascular conditioning really is. Winded. I said, "Lord, that's a weird thing to call a message…Winded. Why would I call it Winded"? He said it's because in the text it says the wind was against the disciples, but even before the wind started blowing against their boat, they were already exhausted. That is a picture… The people who are in here tonight are people who understand what it's like to try to worship God when you're winded and work for God when you, yourself… I mean, it's not like you get to just sit around all week waiting for Sunday. I came out here one Sunday to preach. I'm preaching hard too. Boom. Boom. Boom. I'm going for it. I feel no response from the people, no love from the people. I go backstage. I'm like, "God, what was the problem? Did I use the wrong text? Did I exegete it wrong? Did I dishonor you? Did I not put enough attention…"?
The Lord said, "They're tired. It's an 8:30 a.m. service. They're tired. Some of them aren't sleeping well anyway because they're worried about their job. Some of them aren't sleeping well anyway because they're sleeping in a separate bed from their spouse, and they don't know how to get the marriage working again. Some of them aren't sleeping that well anyway because they're staying up all night playing out things in their life, reliving things from their past, worrying about things in their future. They are tired". At that point, the Lord told me I would need to stand up in my pulpit every week, and no matter how winded I was from my own life, I would have to learn how to depend on him, to depend on his wind, to depend on his Spirit, not to need from the people a response in order for me to preach God's Word.
When I'm winded, I am susceptible to forms of discouragement that I don't even pay any attention to when I'm full of energy. When I'm winded, I am vulnerable to temptations that don't even incite or arouse my craving when I have my full strength. When I'm winded, I start trying to give up on stuff I fought the Devil to get in the first place. When I'm winded, I start thinking crazy stuff. When I'm winded, I don't even know if I can sit here with my family, even though I know I love them, but I don't know how to be present, because I'm in three places at once. I'm winded. Watch this. It's not that everything that's happening in my life is bad. What they just saw Jesus do was amazing. They're not complaining, but they are human. I want you to write something down. The Holy Spirit does not consult human schedules.
I know you don't want to hear that again, but I'm going to say it again. The Holy Spirit does not consult human schedules. Jesus did not turn to the disciples after the feeding of the 5,000 and say, "Y'all feel like making a little trip"? It wasn't any RSVP. Look at how the Bible says it in verse 22. I'm going to show you this. Y'all have Jesus in your head way too soft. I'll show you. Verse 22: "Immediately Jesus made the disciples…" No church vote. No sabbatical. Jesus said, "Get in the boat. I'll see you on the other side". And that's it. So, famously, he sends them into a storm, and they have to deal with the struggle of going through something they did not foresee. What's interesting about this room is that… I don't know if you've just been serving in this church for two weeks or… Somebody was over here. We were celebrating 10 years. What an amazing thing. What do you do again? Production. That's really cool. Who was it back here who was doing the data entry? Yeah, Cindy. Cindy, has it ever been windy?
What I mean by that… Let me clarify. Let me do this for the whole room. I don't want to pick on Cindy, but we'll use Cindy for an example because it works really well phonetically…windy, Cindy. How many of y'all are greeters in the church? Isn't it fun to greet people when it's fun to greet people? Isn't it fun to greet people when you got a good eight hours? Isn't it fun to greet people when God just answered your prayer? Isn't it fun to say, "Welcome to Elevation" when you're happy to be there too? Yet the measure of discipleship is not the enthusiasm you bring to a task when the waters are still and the lake is calm and the stomachs are full. Watch this. Everybody in the crowd is leaving with a full stomach. The disciples are exhausted. Having to take the bread individually to 5,000 family units… Do you know how much cardio that involves? And then pick up all of the basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over? Do you know how big and heavy the baskets were?
This is a picture of why some people leave church on Sunday with big smiles. "Oh, that was wonderful". The ones who leave early before the invitation even happens so they don't have to fight traffic with four cars in the parking lot while somebody is being snatched. That's wonderful, but sometimes you have to leave saying, "I'm exhausted. I'm excited. I'm tired. I'm fired up. I don't know how I feel, but I want to do what you want me to do, Jesus". Don't trust a Christian who never breathes heavy. Don't trust a Christian who never cries tears. Don't trust a Christian who never comes in looking like they've been through hell, smelling like smoke but saying, "There was a fourth man in the fire". This is what it really feels like to do ministry. It's like, "Oh, that was amazing. I'm exhausted. I feel used by God. I feel used. I feel taken for granted".
"Pastor, you got that camera put in my house again"? Yeah. I have a camera that's way better than one in your kitchen. The Lord showed me what you've been dealing with in your spirit. So, I'm going to give you something he gave me from my private stash. I don't let just anybody have this. When they take you for granted in what you do, do you know what that means? You're good. It means you have gotten so good at what you do that you are on par with oxygen. People don't even think to thank the air. They just breathe it. When you get really good, nobody says, "You showed up on time"? They just assume that if you signed up to do it… When you said you would do it, you meant, "Come hell, come high water, come storm, come wind… If I said I would, I will".
That's one of my biggest goals in preaching. I want to be good enough to be taken for granted. I want to get to the point where… I told somebody the other day, "The proof that you are really preaching is they stopped thinking about preaching and started thinking about Jesus in the middle of your preaching. The Holy Spirit was speaking to them so much you just became a ghost in a black hoodie. Nobody even cared who you were at the end of the night. It was the Holy Spirit speaking to their soul". Yet the challenge of this, if we're honest, a lot of the times as we are moving and maneuvering through the demands of our lives… It is very difficult for us, between breaths, to see the big picture of all God is doing, but I'm going to help us with that.
If you came in winded, spiritually… This could be from the long marathon. Many of you aren't winded because of your role in the church. I understand that. For many of you, that's your happy place. That's the one time in the week where you feel like, "Man, this matters, and I love this". I know what you're thinking, because you're like, "Yeah. I'm happy to be here. I'm really glad to be here". No sooner do they get in the boat than they feel the wind is against them. For all of you Christians who try to prove you are in the will of God by the absence of contrary wind… In other words, we think everything God gives us to do, the proof he called us to do it is that it's easy. It said from the moment they set out the wind was against them. The crazy thing is if they would have turned around and went back, the wind would have been blowing for them.
"But I can't go back, because I had a word from God. He said he expected to see me on the other side". "We've been out here an hour, and this wind keeps… We've been out here two hours". It's already late. The whole reason the disciples wanted to send the crowds away in Matthew 14 when the hunger arose was because it was already late. So imagine. It was already late when they started feeding people. Do the math on how long it takes to get food distributed to 5,000 family units, and now they have to go three more miles. And they do…against the wind. Well, here comes Jesus. The Bible said he came about dawn. Or, more specifically (verse 25), "Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them…" I'm going to ask a question, and it's not rhetorical: Why did he wait so long? You're like, "He didn't know they were in trouble".
It's Jesus. And he was on a mountain, so he could see them on the sea. Why did he wait? "Well, he was up there on the mountain praying for them". Maybe he was, but at this point, I could use Jesus as a thirteenth rower, because y'all know Judas wasn't rowing anything in the boat. Judas was back there pulling the other way. He shows up at the last possible moment before the darkness goes away so they can have trouble recognizing him because the sky is not illuminated, so they would have to trust him by faith based on not what they saw with their eyes but what they heard with their ears. Peter goes, "I want to do that". Peter just has to be different. It's not enough just to fall in line and row. Peter does well. He starts walking in the direction of Jesus.
I don't know what kind of encouragement is going on. Jesus tells him to come. I don't know if he reinforced that over and over again. The text doesn't say. It could be that this is all Jesus said and Peter had to go off of that for the entire journey. I do know Jesus wasn't exactly close to the boat, because if he had been close enough to the boat, they would have recognized him as Jesus and they wouldn't have said, "If it's you…" So, I know it's some distance, and Jesus is coming up from some distance, and Peter is moving toward him for a long time. We don't really know how many steps he took, but he famously fell. That's what the Lord wants to speak to us about tonight: right there, in verse 29, where Peter got down out of the boat, walked on water, and came toward Jesus. "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!' Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'"
Now, that's a complicated question. "Why did you doubt"? It's not easy to explain the reasons that we begin to doubt what God has called us to do. It's not as easy… You know, people will give you simplified solutions for spiritual struggles: "Just trust the Lord," and stuff like that. What about the trauma that makes it hard for me to trust anybody, especially a God I can't even see? And when you tell me to trust the Lord, how do I know it's him I'm trusting and not just my idea that I had when I stepped out in faith? That is a very complicated question. "Why did you doubt"? Did somebody else's voice get in his head? It's a complicated thing to describe your insecurities to somebody. A lot of people look at you, how handsome you are, how beautiful you are, how strong you are, how gifted you are, how talented you are, how effervescent your personality is… They look at you, and they're like, "She's so effervescent. If I had her effervescence…" "Oh man. Cindy is so strong. Cindy is so steady and so consistent". But it gets windy for Cindy too. "Why did you doubt"?
Why were you having a conversation with yourself this week? "Does it really even matter what I do, and does anybody really care that I do it, and am I even really good at it"? You can get quiet. The Holy Ghost told me this message, so I'm not confused about it. I know. Meanwhile, the Devil tells me the same stuff, so I know what that feels like. I know exactly what that feels like. I can't tell you exactly why I get in that place. I can't tell you exactly all of the psychological and neurological factors. I don't know all of the things that accumulate in one's life to bring you to a point where you begin to doubt. When you're doing so well, you know, really staying on top of it, really doing well with the diet, really doing well staying clean, really doing well… "I'm going to confess the Word. I'm going to think positively. I'm going to have a Bible reading streak. I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it".
It's really hard to understand what goes wrong in those moments when you sink. So, rather than answer that question, "Why did you doubt"? (which is never explicitly answered in the text, probably because it's far too complicated to be included in this simple story), I want to answer a simpler question. Instead of asking why he doubted, I want to ask the question…When did he doubt? The answer is in verse 30. "But when he saw the wind…" There is nothing in this text that indicates the wind got stronger at this moment and knocked Peter off his balance. From all appearances, the wind was blowing at the same velocity as it had been blowing the whole time he stepped toward Jesus, and he has walked a long way against the wind. It doesn't say when the wind picked up Peter fell. It doesn't say when the wind gained and started to gust and thrust with momentum Peter fell because the wind got so bad. It doesn't say when the circumstances got worse Peter's faith weakened. Actually, a lot of times, when the circumstances get worse, that's when our faith actually locks in and gets stronger.
Now I know I need God and I can't play around. Now I'm getting to the place of realizing that if I don't have Jesus, I'm going to sink out here. No, no, no. It wasn't when the wind got stronger that Peter fell. It said when he saw the wind, the same wind that had been blowing against him the whole time. It was still blowing, but for so many steps he wasn't paying it any attention because he was locked on Jesus. For so many steps, he wasn't paying attention to how the water was moving. He wasn't paying attention to how it was rocking this way or that way or the waves. He wasn't paying any attention to that. The wind didn't pick up. His focus changed. His eyes shifted. He started looking past the one he was walking toward. When he did, he saw the wind. When did Peter fall? Winded.
When did you start focusing on all of the things that are going wrong so much that you forgot God brought you from a mighty long way? When did you forget that his blood prevailed at Calvary, that one drop was enough? When did you become one of these "Hand in my pocket" Christians? You used to be wild. You used to be a worshiper. You used to be like David. You used to be undignified. You used to cry when we sang about the goodness of God. When did…? Maybe he got tired out there. It's hard walking on the water. It's hard keeping your focus. "I've been rowing all night. I've been feeding people I didn't plan to have come over. I've been smiling at people who came in grumpy. I've been trying to be nice. I've been trying to be kind. I'm winded".
When did your feelings…? I'm not picking on Peter. Man, it's hard enough for me some weeks to get a haircut and pick out a shirt and get up and grab a microphone and preach, so God knows I love him for trying. "But when he saw the wind…" It wasn't like it just started at that moment. That would make sense. But you've been doing this the whole time. We'll walk you through it sometime. We'll walk you through those moments where you quit caring. We'll walk you through those moments where you started believing… I was writing in my journal one day, and the Lord gave me something very powerful and painful to hear. He said, "You stopped believing your faith can change situations. Now you use it as a coping mechanism. You don't put your faith on stuff like you used to".
When did…? Why did he doubt? I don't know. I'm not Peter. Only he can answer that. I don't know why Peter doubted, but I know when he did. When he started looking at what was against him. Am I talking about Peter or am I talking about you? Wouldn't it be foolish for you to get fixated on all of those who didn't love you and not receive from those who do? When did you get hard-hearted? You used to be open. You used to pray for other people. You used to do that. And you know what? When you prayed, you expected something to happen from it. You checked up on it. You were texting them 10 minutes later. "Did it happen yet? Okay. I'm going to pray more. Did it happen? Okay. I'm going to pray in tongues. Did it happen yet"? When did you stop being that little girl? You used to sing to Jesus. You used to sit in your room and sing to Jesus. The Devil stole your song because you went in a storm. When did…? It's just a question. When did you take your eyes off of what Jesus was moving you toward and start only thinking about what was coming against you?
Hey, reality check. When did Jesus know there was going to be a storm? When he told them to go. He knew exactly what these fools were about to face. He's not shocked. Hey, everybody in here who's struggling with, "I don't know if God can use me because I've been struggling with some stuff in my life…" Well, let's get that figured out. Let's not have you wallowing around in sin, just wrecking your life and all that. But when did God set you apart? Before you were born. One Bible verse I would like you to learn is in the New Testament book of Romans. It says, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". So, if he called me (Jeremiah 1:6) and set me apart from my mother's womb, and then he saved me while I was still a sinner, why would he stop using me now just because I struggle with something?
Do you know what else I never really realized? I love the Bible. I think I'll probably preach this Bible story once a year and see if God will show me something new in it. I never thought about how far Peter came before he fell. How did I miss this? It's in the text, y'all. Verse 31: "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him". We have already established that Jesus was at a far enough distance where they could not see him except through his silhouette. You mean to tell me Peter got all that way? The Bible didn't say when he cried out Jesus ran over and picked him up. "I'm coming, Peter". No, the Bible said, "Immediately…" Peter was within arm's reach of Jesus. And you want to fall now? You are this close to your breakthrough. You are this close to being the person God… You are this close to your freedom. You are this close to your kids turning around and coming back to God. You are this close to your miracle.
"I didn't come this far to fall down now". It taught me a lesson. It taught me the times when I'm tempted to look away are going to be the times when I'm closest to where God is bringing me. The Spirit says, "You're close. Keep coming. You're close. Keep coming". You're closer than you think you are. You're closer than you've been before. You're closer than my Hammond B3 organ. You're closer than you've ever been. You can't go down now. You can't tap out now. You can't die now. You can't turn around now. There's nothing to go back to. "I'm close, baby! That's why this wind is blowing so hard. The Enemy knows I'm close". You're close! I don't know who this is for, but you're close. You're so close. You are so close.
See, the Bible says they worshiped him when he got in the boat and the wind died down. That's one way to do it. "O God, I'll worship you when this battle is over. O God, I'll worship you when I'm done with this situation. O God, I'll worship you when you restore the relationship". But why not worship him while you're still in it? When did you praise him? In the middle of the storm. When did you praise him? In the middle of the night. When did Paul and Silas start to sing? At midnight. When did you start shrinking down your God to the size of your problems? When did you stop telling your problems how big your God is? Just telling God all the time, "Oh, my problems are so big. Oh, my bills are so bad. Oh, my cholesterol. O God". You can list that all day or you can shift your attention back on Jesus.
I feel a shift happening in this room tonight. It's a subtle shift, but it's a saving shift. It's a small shift, but it's like a rudder. It's going to turn the ship back in the right direction. So, Jesus gets in the boat. How many want him in your boat tonight? Come on. "I want him in my boat". He's not going to come if you golf clap. You have to really want him in your boat. If this word is for you, receive this next part. When did the disciples know why Jesus sent them into a storm? When they got to the other side. Let me be your pastor for a moment. It won't make sense until the other side. Verse 34: "When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed".
When did they know why it was important to get through the storm? You reckon it took about three healings? It says the whole city started coming to Jesus when they got there. Did it take 5? Did it take 10? Do I hear 12, 15? Do I have a 15? Do I have a 20? I mean, certain disciples probably saw it really quickly. "Oh! That's why we had to get here". Some of us are a little slower. How many ways is God going to have to show you that everything he takes you through he takes you through for a purpose? Let everything that has breath… If I'm still alive, if I'm still breathing, if I'm still standing, there's a reason he didn't let me go down. He's not through with you yet! If he said, "Go to the other side," he'll meet you there! You have to get through it.
I don't know who this is for or what you've been contemplating, but you have to get through it. You have to press through the doubt. You have to get through the unbelief. You have to get through the crowd. You have to process the trauma. You have to move through the emotions. You have to get through it! It will make sense on the other side. You don't know what's on the other side of your storm. Only he does. You don't know what's on the other side of your obedience. Only he does. You don't know who you told "Welcome to Elevation Church" when they walked in Sunday. Only he does. You don't know who you gave a smile to. Only he does. Only he knows what's on the other side. Only he knows what he's taking you to. You don't know. You don't have to know. You just have to get through it.
When did you stop believing that God can get you through this? You may not even know why. You may not even know why I came all the way back here. This is Jody, y'all. This is his wife Emily. If you can see her on the camera, she looks a lot like Holly…because they're sisters. Not only is Jody a David Crowder impersonator by day; he is also the instrument God used after my mom taking me to church every single week as a little boy… Some plant. Some water. So, when did I meet this bald beauty? My junior year of high school. When did I give my life to Christ? After he sat down with me for three hours at Alex's Restaurant in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. When am I going to take my hand off his head? When I'm dang well ready. This is my volunteer night. I only get one a year.
After answering three thousand of my questions… I asked this man everything I could think of, because I wasn't sure the God my mom had raised me to believe in was real, but that didn't stop her from taking me to church. So, here comes Jody. My man was on a traveling revival team, Life Action Ministries. He was a singer on the Life Action Ministries revival team, traveling with the revival called America, You're Too Young to Die. Truth under God. Then he pulled me out of church the next night. The preacher hadn't even started his sermon yet. He grabbed me. He said, "Let's go". He sat in a room with me until 2:00 in the morning. I told him I wasn't ready to give my life to God. I said I didn't want to miss out on my high school experience, all of the girls I would have been… Whatever. But he sat with me. He said, "All right. I'm going to pray. I'm going to just pray that you change your mind". I came back to him the next night. I said, "What did you do to me? I think it worked".
Let me ask this question: When did Elevation Church begin? In 2006 when we had our first service? In 1980 when Faith Furtick welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world and took him to church? My grandfather dedicated me and baptized me to the Lord in the Methodist church. That's one answer. When did this church, this ministry begin? When a boy from Warner Robins, Georgia, sat down in a restaurant in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, and answered me when I said, "Where did the dinosaurs come from"? Who asks this stuff? I did.
Then I think about my mom up there, and I think about Jody right here. (And I think about LJ playing softly so I can start closing this sermon.) I think about me being in the middle of y'all, even just how this feels right now. I think about when you walked in the doors of our church for the first time, and I think about when God grabbed ahold of you and you said, "You know what? I want to be a part of something bigger than me". When did…? I know you feel sometimes like… At least I do. Maybe you're just more mature than me. I know you sometimes feel like, "I can't keep doing all this. It's too much. I can't keep fighting this. I don't feel like trying today. I don't feel like being me today. I don't feel like sowing into somebody else today".
I want you to take comfort in this: Jesus not only saw the storm before he sent them into it; he saw what was on the other side. Receive that. I want you to just breathe as deeply as you can. I promise I won't turn it into yoga, but just breathe as deeply as you can. God said he wanted you to catch your breath before you leave here tonight. Sometimes it just knocks the wind right out of you. You can get one text. It'll knock the wind right out of you. The moment he fell, Jesus was right there, and he still is. There are miracles on the other side of this. You know that. Right? They got to take Jesus to Gennesaret so he could heal an entire city. You are carrying the presence of Christ. It's exciting, and it's exhausting, but I promise you one thing: it's worth it.