Saturday, December 29, 2012

Suddenly Bold

Back a few months ago, I did a talk on faith.  While I was preparing for this short little speech, I was so impressed with Peter walking on the waves.  His faith made me reconsider exactly how much (or more like it, how little) faith I possessed.  I loved thinking about it, pondering the emotions (or maybe it was all testosterone, who knows?) that might have completely surrounded Peter.  My emotions that morning were so amazed by the concept of Peter trusting Jesus enough to excitedly do exactly what was asked.  I was blown away by the trust, the hope and the promise that Peter could in fact do exactly what he wanted to do, because he was so intently focused on Jesus.

Matthew 14:22-33 in the Message is what brought this all about, and I really want to share it...

As soon as the meal was finished, he (Jesus) 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 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 lots 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!"

The morning of my talk, the phrase in this passage that spoke so desperately to me was that Peter jumped out of the boat.  No hesitation, no weighing what the options were, no doubting the churning waves under foot, he just jumped out of the boat.  A month or so back, a dear friend mentioned this same passage, but placed emphasis on a completely different phrase.  I was struggling with something I felt God was leading me to do, and terrified that I would be out of His plan for my life.  I wanted to do what He wanted me to do, not think He wanted me to do something because I wanted it.  She reminded me that Peter had to have been terrified, too, because it says Peter was suddenly bold.  She told me that my disobedience needed to become suddenly bold and do what God had asked of me because my disobedience could be hindering someone else's obedience.  Needless to say, I tried to do what was asked.  Tried being the key word, because I chickened out.  I decided I must have misunderstood what God wanted from me.  I hate how remembering back makes me realize I pretty much told God I knew better than Him.  However, I am thankful that I see the lesson I needed to learn. 

Anyway, re-reading it for possibly the hundredth time since then, I am hit by so many thoughts and phrases throughout this passage.  First, this miracle was performed immediately following 5,000 people being fed by five loaves of bread and two fish.  And not several days later, but immediately following.  This part stuns me, because it has left me tonight with hope.  One miracle might be immediately following another.  God's timing is perfect, and He knows exactly what tomorrow holds. 

Secondly, these disciples at first assumed the worst.  These men were the men closest to Jesus, getting to know more than the typical person.  And, they assumed the worst, instead of assuming it was Jesus.  Really, though, how typical it is for us to automatically assume the sky is coming down around us and our world is coming to an end.  Instead of placing their trust in Jesus, they placed humanly fears in the explainable.  Well, as explainable as a ghost is anyway...

Jesus immediately provides them comfort and soothes their fears.  Without fail and without asking, Jesus calls out, reminding them not to be afraid or confused, He was with them. Their boat would not sink, the waves would not send them going in circles, but instead the he was there, he was in control, and they were safe. 

And, then Peter, suddenly bold, asks to walk on the water with Jesus.  First, he had to become suddenly bold.  He didn't just automatically have the nerve, he wasn't overly courageous, but instead suddenly bold.  Trusting, asking and receiving, knowing if Peter asked, Peter would receive.  And, upon being given permission, propels himself without abandon out of the boat.  Seem a little over dramatic?  Uh, yeah, however, how many of us would just throw ourselves over the side of the boat into crashing waves?  Not very many. 

And then, Peter lost his nerve.  Yup.  So like me.  I get direction, start the process, and lose my nerve.  And, just like He did Peter, Jesus rescues me, without question or hesitation every time I ask him to.  And, tonight, I feel like God is asking me, "Faint-heart, what has gotten into you?"  I know what He told me to do, and tonight, instead of doubting my ability,  I jumped in.  Instead of looking at the waves and sinking down, upset and doubting, I am gonna remind those waves exactly who my God is, and know He will have the victory, whatever it may be.  The thoughts have hit whether or not suddenly bold was enough, whether it was Peter's quick feet or his ability to remember who to ask for help that saved him from drowning.  My wind and waves will die down, and His plans for me are still the same. 

As the story plays over and over in my head, I am reminded that the very same trust, hope and faith present in Peter needs to be fed in me, and without circumstances to strengthen my trust, it will grow weak.  I gotta remember who I am walking towards, instead of focusing on the waves crashing underneath me, bringing new hope every day.  If only I could remember to quit looking down, but instead up to the one where the ultimate source of help, direction and healing come from.  That said, I gotta turn this brain off for a night...   

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