Monday, June 29, 2009

Walking Out in the Storm

Have you ever scampered out onto the lake after Jesus? Maybe there has been a moment in ministry or worship, where you rush out, before you realize that you don’t have the credentials, or the education, or the talent to be doing the thing you are doing? That is exactly where Peter found himself one stormy night…
Matt 14:22-33 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. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth 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." "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. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
So many times in our lives we get the opportunity to truly see Jesus—we know what He wants of us. We know what the right thing to do entails. Do we rush lovingly out on the water? Or do we tiptoe in and let fear overwhelm us?

This exchange between Peter and Jesus is so fascinating, to me. First, they don’t believe it is Jesus, thinking that He is a ghost. But notice that is it Peter who has the presence of mind to ask the Lord to command him to come to Him. Peter knows that even though the task is impossible in his own strength, if Jesus commands it, it can be done. He knows that with certainty or he would never have left the boat deck. Everything is going along swimmingly until the moment of “realization.” As long as his eyes were on Jesus, and on doing as He commanded, everything was a-okay. When he looked at the circumstance: dark night, stormy waves, possible death by drowning… he gets a little panicky.

We all have that moment where we can choose to give in to fear, or we can do what Peter does next, which I think is the most profound part of the story. He cries out to Jesus to save him!!And what does Jesus do? It is Jesus’ point of view that had most interested me, as I tried to imagine His perception of this whole event.

“Oh, Peter. My beloved friend. So much enthusiasm and belief. And he will struggle the most. My denial will be his near-undoing. But he will be the rock on which I will build the church. If a simple fisherman with no formal education can love me honestly, he will show the world that great love—through his flaws and weakness. There he is on the boat. Of course it is Peter who asks to come out! Good job, Peter. You know I won’t let you fall! Keep looking at me, keep your eyes right here… that’s it!! A few more feet, you are almost here!! Look at that? Doing something humans aren’t supposed to do!! Oh, he got scared. ‘I’ve got you. If you’d only kept believing you would have made it, Peter! Why did you forget who I am? ’”
And Peter’s response (and everyone who watched) is to worship the Lord!!

How many of us have watched a child learning to walk, thinking those same kinds of things in our minds? Watching how they fall, we encourage them to try again. Even when we know we will rush in to pick them up, when they have reached their limit.I am grateful for a personal God, a living Savior—who expects wholeheartedness from me. Solitary confidence in Jesus, is the only thing necessary for a powerful walk with Him. He is not there only in the turbulence. He is there encouraging us, celebrating our joys, longing to bless us in small ways that make our hearts sing. He is willing to teach anything we ask to learn. And when we ask Him to call us to come to Him—He always will. And we can charge headlong into any circumstance, knowing that what He has called us to do, He will give us the power to do.

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