Monday, June 25, 2012

Then donna got out of the boat ...

Jesus made them get in the boat and go on ahead.... He knew what would come with the dawn.

"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. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn 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.' "
Matthew 14:22-32 (NIV)

During a quiet time with Steve last week, we came across this passage in Matthew. Having heard the story many times since our childhood, we resisted the urge to blow through it. Every thing we read these days seems to be clearer or more meaningful than ever before. We need it.
 We are also working to incorporate "Bible story-telling" into our teaching style as we prepare to serve in a country that is known predominantly to be oral learners by preference. So as i read a Bible story now, i ponder on it longer and more thoroughly than some might consider normal. I try and realistically imagine what the day actually looked like when the story unfolded. Even researching to find needed answers so my imaginings are a factual as possible.

With that in mind, as we read Matthew 14, i was transfixed on that moment when Peter said, "tell me to come to you on the water." Why would he do that??? No one had ever walked on water up until that moment when Jesus walked out to the disciples. When they saw Jesus walking on the water, "they were terrified". They thought they might be seeing a ghost... after all... people don't walk on water... right? But Jesus calls out to them --- immediately he recognized their fear and spoke to them. It's one of the 365 times in the Word we are told not to be afraid.
Then Peter, responds by asking if it is really the Lord, then "tell me to come to you on the water".
That's the moment that has me transfixed.

Why would Peter ask to get out of the boat and walk on the water too?
Why wouldn't he cheer for Christ and then release the deep breath he was surely holding in and sit down peacefully inside the boat?
Why would he not turn to his fellow disciples and rejoice with them at the miracle they were seeing?
Why wouldn't he just soak in the moment with awe-filled praise?

If the other disciples even mentioned a timid "me too", we don't find it in scripture. What did they do when Peter asked to walk on the water too? We don't actually know. We assume they stood in stunned silence, at least i do. Did they ask themselves (or even each other) "what is he thinking?...What was it about Peter that was different enough to say ---- let me walk on the water to you?

The lesson of faith is monumental in this passage. When focusing on Christ and trusting Him alone --- when looking beyond the buffeting winds and waves --- when listening only to the voice of the Savior --- Peter could hold on to enough faith to walk on water. However, when he let the situation around him outweigh the power of the Savior in front of him ----- he lost faith --- he began to sink.

My mind keeps going back to this question ----- if i had been in that boat, if i had been one of those disciples, where would i have been found that night?
Would i have been huddled in the corner of the boat?
Would i have been crying in fear?
Would i have been asking to walk to my Jesus even before Peter could get the words out?
Would i have thought Peter foolish and scoffed at him?
Or -- would i have been a cheerleader for Peter and encouraged him on --- with one foot in the water right behind him??
Would i have been encouraging Peter to keep his focus on Jesus?
Or -- would i have been a distraction to him casting my doubts doubly on his shoulders?

Does it matter?
Perhaps not --- but perhaps it does.
Because it speaks through a megaphone of my faith walk now.

i felt my Abba sitting with me as i read this passage through over and over and over again. And i faced the reality, that i would have surely been crying in fear at the waves buffeting the little boat (since the Son of God was obviously not in the boat with us)--- then astonished at the appearance of Jesus walking on the water --- then i believe i would have been cheering Peter on --- with thoughts like --- "you go first Peter, and if it works out for you - i'm right behind you buddy..."

You go first...
if it works out for you...
i'm right behind you...

No great measure of faith there donna. You're still wanting to "see with your eyes" first --- then you'll jump, you'll dive, you'll let loose your sails and grab hold of the wind ---- but after you see...

For the place where my feet have come to on this life path ---- that measure falls short, and brings me to my knees. I look around me at those who seem to not feel as though they are being woo-ed to step out of the boat. Even if their boat is scary at times --- at least they are getting to stay inside it, with thin wooden walls residing between them and the raging water on the other side. I envy them --- in a flesh covered sort of way.
But, the boat feels all wrong to me these days. I seem to have splinters all inside the wooden walls that in the past seemed smoother. and i hear His voice saying, "Take courage donna, it is I, don't be afraid."
Take courage, it is I, don't be afraid...

But God, i'll look so foolish stepping out of the boat?
Take courage, it is I, don't be afraid...
But Lord, what if i find myself alone outside the walls of this boat?
Take courage, it is I, don't be afraid...
But Father, there are big, scary fish under those waters, remember what happened to Jonah?
Take courage, it is I, don't be afraid...
But Abba, i feel very alone, even in the middle of a crowd...
Take courage, it is I, don't be afraid...
But Yahweh, what i've always known is inside the boat, not on top of the waves...
Take courage, it is I, don't be afraid...
But El Roi, what if you grow tired of me, and weary of my weakness?
Take courage, it is I, don't be afraid...

and then He whispers to my soul ---- donna, even when Peter became weak in his faith and began to sink, what happened?
"Well, he called out to you for help, and you reached out your hand and caught him."
That's right donna, i caught him and taught him. But notice, that while the others in the boat worshiped me on that day, Peter is the only one who actually felt my touch. I touched Him. He needed me to, and so i did.

I will never leave you or forsake you.
You may want to "leave" yourself donna --- you may even "forsake" yourself, growing tired of yourself and weary of weakness --- but i will not.
Remember what I say about your weakness?
I have called you, I have made you, I will be with you, You are mine. And what's more - I delight in you, and rejoice over you --- weak little daughter that you feel you are --- I delight in you. I'm God. I'm your Abba.

Come --- step out of the boat and feel my touch. You may falter. I will not.
My grace will cover all...

We are all in a boat of some sort ---- i hope you too will be encouraged to step out onto the waters --- where Jesus is walking nearby.

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

1 comment:

  1. this is the sentence that resonates with me today: You may want to "leave" yourself donna --- you may even "forsake" yourself, growing tired of yourself and weary of weakness --- but i will not.

    thank you for the reminder that His grace will cover all, and that He will not falter, but will give me His hand when i need it. and i need it.