Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“In God have I put my trust and confident reliance; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Psalm 56: 11
“Trust God where you cannot trace Him. Do not try to penetrate the cloud He brings over you; rather look to the bow that is on it. The mystery is God’s; the promise is yours.”
John R. Macduff
Today’s Study Text:
“And (Jesus) said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.”
Matthew 14: 29
“Heaven’s Solution to Earthly Fear” Part 6
“Go To Jesus”
“Let all our employment be to know God: the more one knows Him, the more one desires to know Him.”
The Practice of the Presence of God
In what ways does who I choose to follow dictate the direction of my life?
How does focusing on “going to Jesus” keep me consecrated to my life’s calling?
“When our deepest desire is not the things of God, or a favor from God, but God Himself, we cross a threshold.”
It’s Not About Me
“Commitment is the one and only way by which we may know the Christ.”
While we are not told if all of Jesus’ disciples were in the boat during the storm on Galilee, we do know that only one of them, upon seeing a ghost-like figure walking toward the boat and hearing a voice that seemed somewhat familiar, had the nerve to call out, “Lord, it is You?” Obviously, Peter wanted to have an affirmation that who he thought might be out on the rough sea was indeed his Lord, Jesus. Upon getting an affirmative response, the Bible shares the fact that Peter, after hearing Jesus say, “Come,” immediately came down out of the ship. And yes, indeed, he, too, walked on the top of the water for the Bible tells us he had only one goal – to go to Jesus.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read this story, but by taking time to prayerfully study through a text, word-by-word, oh how much more we can uncover. In just this one text, there are four specific lessons for you and me. Lessons, I might add, that will not only help us conquer our own fears, but give us the courage we need, every moment of every day, as we choose “to go to Jesus,” too.
Lesson #1: Listen for Jesus call to, “Come!” I can’t begin to tell you how many times, in my own life, I have missed out on moving forward in God’s pathway for me, simply because I had on ear plugs of my own making, which blocked the sound of Jesus’ voice, inviting me to “Come!” I recently read this observation, penned by an unknown individual, but how appropriate it is for these words apply directly to the situation Peter found himself in when in a storm-tossed boat, he responded to Jesus: “One can always measure a man (or woman’s) devotion to the cause of Christ by his (or her) readiness to be called to responsibility, by his (or her) diligence in it, by the personal risks he (she) runs through his (her) involvement in it, or by the ease with which he (she) lays it down.”
Lesson #2: Don’t stop to question Jesus but instead, immediately, “come down out of the ship.” The phrase “come down out of the ship,” in the Greek means to descend, to fall down to the bottom, to the base. In terms of what Peter was doing, he came from what could be perceived as the safety of the ship at a higher level, to the lapping waves that were beating against the boats’ hull. Peter didn’t scream across the noise of the storm, “Hey there Jesus, I’m not coming down there to You where it looks so unsafe. Why don’t you come up here in the boat with us?” No, he didn’t question where the call of Jesus would lead him, instead, he moved directly in the direction of the One who called. Peter had once before heard a call from Jesus, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4: 19, K.J.V.). And it was Matthew, who shares the fact that both Peter and his brother Andrew, “straightway left their nets and followed Him” (Matthew 4: 20, K.J.V.). No hesitation. No questioning. No hold on a minute. What we see is that Peter, alone, didn’t wait for others to cheer him on. He didn’t look for Jesus to take away the storm before he obeyed. Instead, he moved. He walked. He left the comfort of being on high to be down low in a roaring storm. In the words of the spiritual hero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “When Christ calls a man (or woman), He bids him (or her) come and die.”
Lesson #3: Start walking! Don’t just stand still, but keep moving, even when you, all of a sudden, realize you are walking on water, doing something everybody else told you was completely impossible. I got a very personal lesson on walking after our car accident. The orthopedic trauma surgeon told me they did little to repair the multiple fractures in my left foot because, “in the first place, we didn’t think you would live. In the second place, we were certain you would never walk again, so why try and fix bones that were impossible to reconstruct.” This type of thinking went out the window, though, when after 2 ½ years of very trying physical therapy, I walked into the same doctor’s office without my four-pronged cane. The word “impossible” wasn’t one I wanted to hear. And it wasn’t a word Peter believed in either. While it was sensible to believe a human could not walk on water – it just didn’t happen to be the way things developed – not in Jesus’ world. Call what happened to Peter a “miracle,” for this is how it looks. But I find the explanation by C. H. Dodd in complete alignment with what happened when a disciple named Peter chose, without reservation, to come when Jesus called: “A miracle in the sense of the New Testament is not so much a breach of the laws of nature, but rather a remarkable or exceptional occurrence which brought an undeniable sense of the presence and power of God.” Peter shouldn’t have been able to walk on water. If you had asked him, he most likely would have told you it wasn’t something he could do. And yet, when called by Jesus, as Peter followed the call and immediately headed toward his Lord and Master, the impossible became possible. Peter did what he thought he couldn’t do – and by the way, this was not the last time the apparently impossible turned into the possible in Peter’s life.
Lesson #4: Keep your focus on going to Jesus. I really like the words of one of the most effective evangelists for Jesus, the great Dwight Lyman Moody who stated: “Give me a person who says, ‘This one thing I do, and not these fifty things I dabble in!’” To dabble is a rather old-fashioned word which means to “undertake an activity superficially or casually.” It’s as though your heart, soul and body isn’t really “into it!” The Apostle Paul expressed the need to keep our eyes focused on going to Jesus when he penned these words to the Christians in Philippi: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3: 14, K.J.V.). This passage of Scripture brought to my memory the words of an old hymn, written in 1850 by Anna Waring:
“In heavenly love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?”
As Peter followed the call of Christ and stepped down onto the roaring waves, step-by-step walking to the One he kept his focus on, the impossible began to occur – and the same thing will happen for you and me when we follow the call of our Master and Lord today. The impossible will truly become possible. I know. I’m living proof that God can take what’s been called impossible and turn it into the possible when we give ourselves totally to Him.
“Give me courage Lord
to take risks
not the usual ones
but those I could avoid
the go-for-broke ones.
I need courage
not just because
I may fall on my face or worse
but others seeing me
a sorry spectacle
if it should happen
“he didn’t know what he was doing”
or “he’s foolhardy”
or “he’s old enough to know
one leads from the side
instead of letting oneself be caught
in a wild stampede.”
Give me courage Lord
to take unnecessary risks
to live at tension
instead of opting out.
Give me the guts to put up
instead of shutting up.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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