Do you think following Jesus is easy and once you decide to live for Him that your life will be all about good times and cotton candy, carnival rides and cupcakes? This is my daughter, Shelby’s vision of Heaven, but it’s not an accurate depiction of the life of a Christ-follower. I just had a couple of verses smack me in the face; some that I’ve read a bazillion times, but never like I just got it, probably because God knew I needed to be reminded of this truth. It’s Matthew 8:23-24, “23Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.” The storm came AFTER the disciples followed Jesus onto the boat. Did you catch that? The disciples were not in the midst of a storm and then followed Jesus who calmed the waters. They followed Him and then the storms came. Now, I’m not saying don’t follow Jesus because life will get rough. Life is rough anyway and following Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. I’m just saying that Jesus does not promise a trouble free life for His followers. In fact, He promised something else entirely. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Instead of “take heart”, other versions say “take courage” or “be of good cheer”, which are all things we can do when we know, we believe and have faith that God is with us and will not allow us to go through the storms alone. He tells us in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” If we go through the storms acting all depressed, beaten down and defeated, are we being good ambassadors for Christ? “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:20. What are we telling the world and more importantly our children and those who know us best when we give up, retreat and hide under the rocks when life beats us down? Aren’t we essentially saying that the God we claim to worship is not big enough to handle our messes? Or even worse, that He’s no real God at all? How appealing does that look to the lost and dying world who desperately needs a Savior? No thanks, they are probably thinking. I can handle my mess better on my own than you are with your God. Aren’t our messes great opportunities to show off our God, the one and only true God? When we can go through our messes with joy, now that says something about us and our God. It shows the world something they don’t have, but need. Remember as we just learned in 2 Corinthians 5:20, God wants to use us to appeal to the world who needs Him. Let’s not let our Father down. Be of good cheer.