I get a little perturbed with people who rationalize their safe, puny way of life by their faith. They give in to their own insecurities and quarantine themselves away from the real world. They take their “salt and light” and hide it under the bushel of a church building, never thinking God might want them seasoning and shining in a lost world.
We have Christian music, Christian sports for our kids, Christian movies, Christian singles websites, Christian coffee bars, Christian cruises. But if we could see ourselves with spiritual eyes, I wonder if we might see ourselves walking through life covered with BubbleWrap from head to toe!
You remember the story about Jesus walking on the water. Disciples in a boat in the middle of the sea, storm pops up, Jesus comes walking on the water to say hey. Peter takes a step of faith, takes a dive (literally), Jesus pulls him up out of the water. Everybody laughs while looking for some dry towels (well, I’d imagine that happened)…
But before all that, at the start of the story, here’s the part that bothers me most. “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side…” – Matthew 14:22
Did you catch that? Jesus INTENTIONALLY sent them out into a life-threatening situation…WITHOUT HIM! Surely if Jesus really is God, then He knew a storm was coming. It’s not like He couldn’t have invented Doppler radar a couple of thousand years early! Instead, He sends them directly into a DANGEROUS situation – one they were completely ill-equipped to address in any way…well, except maybe for drowning. Yep, they could have pulled that off well. They could have drowned quite successfully.
The lessons here ring true with my life right now. God not only allows me to walk into trials that test my faith, He sometimes leads me straight into them! I don’t like that about God most of the time. I pray continually for Him to do exactly the opposite of this, to keep me OUT of situations that make my heart bound and fear pop in my head. I’ll admit I’m tempted at times to believe what the TV preachers with perfect hair and large teeth want to sell me, that God never wants me in painful trials, and is always going to airlift me out of them quickly.
Only problem is, He doesn’t normally work that way. Usually, exactly the opposite.
Why does He do that? For lots of great reasons – to grow our faith in God, to make us resilient to hardship, to teach us to be spiritually stubborn. But there’s one I see that’s even better than all those reasons. Here it is…
To give us something worth talking about.
You see, I’m sure Peter would never shut up about that story from that day on. Everybody’s sitting around the camp fire, eating fish, and Peter pops up with, “Hey, remember the time I walked on water?” Everybody groans. Then his brother Andrew says, “Yeah you did walk on water, didn’t you…for 7 whole seconds!”
Everybody laughs, but Peter’s eyes catch Jesus’. There’s a connection there that was formed in the waves of that storm. That was their moment together – an experience no one else could understand but the two of them. It was a life landmark for Peter, because his faith would never be the same after it. He learned to depend on Jesus in a way no one else ever had. For Peter, it was a game-changer in the faith department, because He was forced to put His faith (beliefs and trust in God) into action. And any faith that has never been through a storm is of no use on dry ground either.
Is God setting the stage for a dramatic flourish in your life? Do you feel the fear in the pit of your belly? Your face a little flush with anticipation? Can’t figure out how any of it’s gonna work out?
You’re in God’s perfect will, in the most dangerous place on earth, with more than you could ever handle. Congrats.
It’s morning now, storm’s over. Everything looks completely different, and I’m reminded once again of the transient nature of every challenge we face. “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning”. And as the old preacher says, “Morning comes whenever you wake up!”
Jesus is desperately trying to turn your boring life into an adventure. We keep hoping for daily programming from the Weather Channel instead. Predictable, safe, calculated, boring, repetitious.
Welcome to your perfect storm. Sorry, but Bubble Wrap only makes it harder to move. And move is exactly what you need to do.
Now take a deep breath…and take a big step out. of. the. boat.