Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Walk on Water

Wave energy - Fuji FinePix XP20 by kevin dooley, on Flickr

Peter must have been nuts.

After seeing Jesus break five loaves of bread and two fish to feed five thousand people (with leftovers), the disciples were on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night. It must have been peaceful, with the stars overhead, a gentle breeze against your skin and the sound of waves gently lapping against the boat, rocking you to sleep. Until the wind started to bite, and the waves began to roll threateningly.

Soon the disciples found themselves far from any safety facing a storm that no sane man would be out in. All because they followed the advice of a carpenter on when to go sailing. "Smooth move, Jesus" they may have said to one another as they attempted to figure out how they were going to survive this. "Last time we trust a carpenter to put us out on the water. He does not have a clue about how to stay afloat."

All this to deflect the very real looming dread that hung over the group. They might not see the morning.

In their terror, the weather began to play tricks on them. Howling over the waves, ghosts reflected on the water. Soon their dread had developed into a full fledged panic attack. At the height of their panic, a ghost seemed to materialize on the water as they all saw it this time.

Then the ghost spoke.

It was not a ghost, but Jesus. Who was walking on the water. Of course he was, why not?

Now their panic attack became genuine curiosity. Were they dead? Was this some ethereal trick that their souls were succumbing to in their final moments? Count on Peter to look for the concrete. He wanted to step out on the water with Jesus... if this was Jesus. He called out to Jesus to be able to join him on the water.

With the calling of Jesus, Peter stepped out on the liquid, undulating waves focussing on Jesus who stood away from the boat. Even though his mind cringed at the very real thought of drowning, his feet were not sinking into the deep.

Then the wind gripped at his cloak, and the waves licked at his heels. Peter was no longer looking at Jesus, but at the deep, menacing water around his ankles. The he noticed his knees were cold. As his elation of walking on water turned into terror, Peter was sinking and trying to swim in a storm. The waves rolled over his head as he gasped for air between the wave crests. "Help me Jesus!" Peter cried.

There was a hand of salvation, and a word of rebuke. "You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?"

You know this story well. You have seen it played out in your own life over and over again. The high of a miracle, the blame when God seems distant, the lack of trust in the storm, a moment of trust -- and then doubt. It is a story we live day in and day out in our own lives.

Yet Jesus is there.

He wants our attention on him. The storm is inconsequential, the fact that you cannot stand on water is irrelevant. He is God.

Whatever the storm, the waves, the menacing wind in your life -- He is God. This trial will pass, this momentary trouble will fade.

I have lived for the past few months in this tension of trust. The water below, Jesus ahead. There are times when the water envelopes my knees, and my heart is clutched in the claws of terror. He offers me a hand to pull me up out of the water and then invites me to continue walking with him. It is freeing, it is terrifying. That is a glimpse into faith, because it is never safe.

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