Steven Furtick - When The Wind Is Against You
This is an excerpt from: Winded
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".