Saturday, August 2, 2014
When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Mathew 14:23-32)
If nothing else you have to admire Peter's willingness. I mean, at least he desired to step out of the boat and move toward Jesus--and dared to do so. It was not an easy step, to say the least. The step into the deep waters never is. It requires a lot. Jesus was asking Peter to leave the security of the boat and his friends and his old life and ways, and to join him in a totally new and totally unfamiliar place. A place of total surrender and total abandon. That's what real life with God is all about. We can't avoid it or deny it. And when Jesus invites us to that place with him it always requires us to step out of our comfortable and controlled lives (and ways) and step into a life that is completely determined and ordered by him. It is a place where real trust is necessary and real life is experienced. Peter took him up on it. Most of us never get that far. Most of us hear the call and rationalize that it is for someone else. Most of us hear his invitation to this deep life with him and allow the wind and the waves to effect us long before we ever consider stepping out onto the raging sea. Peter's willingness meant that he was able to experience something that none of the other disciples (at this point at least) were willing to. That is often the case. So often we are simply unwilling--be it from fear, or preoccupation, or comfort, or control and agenda--to step out onto the sea (into the deep) with Jesus, where we must totally trust his care and his control. The deep is a place where we cannot touch bottom, where we cannot control things, where we cannot manage life on our own terms. The deep is a place where we have no idea what will happen when we actually set foot upon its waters. Therefore, it is a place of total vulnerability, total surrender, and total trust. Peter was willing to go there. He stepped out. He took nothing with him. He completely let go of everything else but this burning desire to be with Jesus, wherever Jesus may lead, whatever Jesus might ask. The call of Jesus is like that for us all. Are we willing to take that step, whatever that step may look like? Are we willing to join him? If we really want to be his, there is no other choice.
Jesus tests our limits and invites us to go out into the deep, far from the secure shores of large savings accounts, comfortable routines, familiar places and situations. There have been many times when I felt overwhelmed by work and family responsibilities, There have been times when I felt depressed, wanting to escape to the comfort of home or to the security of familiar tasks. I was afraid of what lay ahead. Every year we wonder where the money will come from to sustain our ministry. But in every one of these situations, Jesus has been there beckoning me, beckoning us, beyond the security of shallow water to go with him into the deep.