BETH CORTEZ 4_1_19 BLOG.png

I have to admit something about myself. I have areas that I literally ask God not to touch. “Lord, I will move to California, but not to Africa.” Or, “I will have two kids, but not four.” And, “I can cut sugar, but I will never cut gluten.” Since the time of those adamant discussions, God has literally given me four kids and a gluten allergy. I’m starting to wonder when I am moving to Africa, at this point.

Do you do that? Do you tell God certain areas of your life are off limits to him? Do you tell him he can’t, and then with tenderness, love and a bit of force, he starts pulling open the proverbial hands that are clenched tightly like fists around them? If so, I have a story for you.

I remember it so clearly, the beginning of our friend’s decent into a life strangling disease called ALS. Drake was spending time at our house while his wife, Betsy, was traveling for work when he told us he was having what seemed like sciatica or just some pesky, super uncomfortable lower back pain. He was telling us that he had always had pretty much incredible health and really never dealt with those weird ails of getting older. He said, “I guess I have to start facing the fact that I’m aging.” None of us had any idea that it wasn’t as benign as a little bit of a pinched nerve. We didn’t even stop to consider the possibility that within the next few months, he would be telling us he was actually suffering from ALS, a paralytic condition which would eventually deaden his nerve pathways to the point of being unable to raise and lower his chest to breathe.

This news began to take us all, his friends and his loved ones, on a journey that we were both unprepared and inept to take. We had to struggle with God’s plans in tension with our longings and desires. We had to hold on and let go all at once. We had to look into the kind, loving, gracious eyes of God and accept that he had a purpose in leading Drake through this unbelievable journey of loss and pain. After staring into that reality for some time, the next logical question to ask, that was almost too much to muster, was, where will you, then, lead me?

Drake shared early on that it was so similar to God calling Peter our of the boat to walk on water. Do you remember that story?

“As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:22-33‬ ‭MSG‬‬

The disciples were terrified, but, Peter looked out and asked Jesus to call him out onto the stormy water with him. He went out into the fear. He understood something that I didn’t/ don’t. Jesus was in it. Jesus was in the storm in the deepest place of fear, calling out to him and rescuing him amidst his doubts. As he took his eyes off of Jesus he began to sink, but Jesus took his hand and lifted him up. He calmed the sea and led him to safety.

Drake taught that his paralysis was similar to Peter’s storm. Jesus called him into the storm and was leading him somewhere terrifying and majestic all at once. He was in the midst of a dichotomy of a dying body, yet a spirit that was coming alive like never before—-and it was Jesus saving him. As certain as the sun, Drake was being renewed, day by day, becoming whole and complete, without shame, without doubt, alive and free...while his body did the exact opposite...unto death.

Before his departure to heaven, we would pray fervently for his healing. I think my prayers began like most everybody’s. “Lord, we know that you are good and you are God of heaven and earth. All power, all breath, all life and all death begin with just a word from your lips. Speak it Lord, and it shall be done. Please heal our friend.” God answered. It just looked different than what I envisioned, though it was glorious, nonetheless.

In light of the storm, the terrifying fear of disabling ALS, and the healing, saving hand of Jesus Christ, I think Drake was telling us that if we could look into it—into our fear, and ask Jesus to call us out into it, we would be met with something entirely different than what we were expecting, and it was good. It was so good, in fact, that one would not trade the new reality for the old.

And he ministered to us about what and why and how God heals us. It’s from the inside-out. As God strips away things we cling to, he teaches us that we are clinging to something less, something inferior than the possibilities that await a heart ready to venture out to where Christ is calling us. I believe Jesus would meet us quickly with comfort saying, “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Jordan Hudson