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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Not for the faint of heart

24-26Meanwhile, 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 out in terror.  27But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid."  28Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water."  29-30He 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 lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!"  31Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?"
(Matthew 14:24-31)

These disciples were doing EXACTLY what Jesus had asked them to do.  He had just finished a long day's ministry on the seashore, feeding 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, and now he asks for just a little "quiet time".  He sends his disciples out ahead of him as he steals away to a quiet place to have some alone time with his Father in prayer.  Somehow, I think we are of the belief that as long as we are doing EXACTLY what Jesus asks of us, then we will be immune from the storms of life!  When they come (and they WILL come), we just cannot believe it!

It was four in the morning, the waves are beating that little boat around in the water, interrupting the sleep of the disciples, and if that was not enough, there appears to be someone walking toward them on the surface of the water.  In the natural perception of the moment, they think it is a ghost!  So, sleep deprived, a little woozy from all the rocking, and probably more than a little upset with Jesus for sending the out on the water than night, they now add to their plethora of "woes" this "ghostly" man walking toward them on the water!

It is never Jesus' intention to get them all stirred up (at least I don't think so).  He is simply rejoining his group of traveling companions, not where he was, but where they were.  That is how Jesus works - he meets us exactly where we are - whether it be in the storms of life or on the roads we are traveling.  When he comes, there is an immediate response from him - "Don't be afraid!"  I think Jesus knows exactly how much we are afraid of what life deals us and knows exactly when to come into our circumstances.  He also knows exactly what it is that we need to hear in order to have our faith encouraged.

To this encouragement to "not fear", Peter responds with the request to come to Jesus - not where Peter is at in the boat, but where Jesus is at on the water.  That is often the response Jesus wants for us to have when we desire a greater revelation of him - not that we'd demand he comes to us, but that we would actively seek him out.  We get stuck in the boat many a time that Jesus would rather that we meet him on the water!

Peter actually walks on water!  This is the only recorded evidence of man walking on water other than Jesus himself.  What was physically impossible was made possible in Jesus.  He is taking steps toward Jesus when all of a sudden I think he realizes that he is "going where no man has gone before".  Guess what - that is usually the case when we are called out of our comfort zone!  We feel like we are going where no man has gone before - certainly not us!

In that moment of realization that he is going where he has never gone before, he loses heart.  He begins to sink.  In the moment of his need, he cries out to the great Rescuer!  Save me!  Two words Jesus delights to hear!  We often think that we've got it all together to find we are just about ready to sink - then the hands of Jesus lift us to a place of safety once again.  

Jesus' response to Peter - "My good buddy, this walk is not for the faint of heart!"  I think Jesus was reminding all of us by Peter's example that we will take steps that seem impossible, sometimes experiencing that "sinking" loss of our faith.  When we do, he is right there to pick us up.  In those moments, he speaks deep into our spirits, "My good buddies, this walk is not for the faint of heart!  I will take good care of you!  Trust me!"  

So, let this be your thought today:  This walk is not for the faint of heart.  What causes your heart to faint today?  Jesus is just waiting for you to cry out, "Save me!"