I am finally back at my computer. It seems like I’ve been away a lot longer than two weeks, but perhaps that’s because I hadn’t touched my computer at all for most of that time, which was strange after so much time spent working on writing projects.
I had taken some time off to catch up on my “To-Be-Read” list. Well, sorta catch up. By that I mean finishing two books and picking up three more from the library. And last night after I got back from a trip to GA, I saw the stack on my nightstand and realized I have less than two weeks to finish them. Challenge accepted? I think yes.
So why am I typing this up instead of reading those?
As I mentioned a second ago, I just got back from a short trip back to GA to visit friends one more time before heading back to England. When I got back last night, my family gathered around for our Tuesday night bible study tradition and continued our current study called The Grave Robber by Mark Batterson.
It’s a series of videos studying the miracles of Jesus and how he can take our impossible and make it possible, as well as how each miracle (from the water to wine to feeding the five thousand and more) reveals a different aspect of God’s character that we can strive to know better and experience in our own lives.
Last night’s video focused on John 6:16-21 when Jesus walks on water to meet his disciples on the Sea of Galilee. They’re pretty much in the middle of the waves, out of sight of the shore and they turn to see Jesus walking out on the water towards them.
In Matthew we actually get a little more to the story and see that Peter responds to Jesus with the words, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water” (14:28 NLT).
And when He does, Peter climbs out over the side of the boat and begins walking on the water toward Jesus.
That stuns me.
Everyone (me included) is usually so quick to roll their eyes at Peter throughout the ministry of Jesus. There are many times when I read through some of the stories and just think, Really…come ON you’ve been with Jesus for THREE YEARS. How can you still misunderstand this?
He rebukes Jesus for predicting his death, he tells Jesus not to wash his feet, he falls asleep in the garden when he’s supposed to be staying awake with Jesus, he cuts off a guard’s ear the night Jesus is arrested, he denies Jesus three times even after Jesus warned him he would do so.
But. Peter is also the one who declares Jesus is the Messiah, he is one of the ones chosen to be present at the Transfiguration, he is the only one to defend Jesus in the garden, and he’s the only disciple that walks on water.
As much as Peter gets it wrong, he tries, and as a result, he’s the only one to experience the miraculous power of Jesus in ways the others were too afraid to even try. He gets out of the boat.
I’d love to say I could do the same. I’d love to say I had that kind of faith. But I’m not so sure that I would considering that simple things requiring only the most basic form of trust can cause me to doubt sometimes.
While I was in GA this weekend, I went rock climbing for the first time with Conner. Despite the fact that my arms were super sore for two days afterwards, I really enjoyed it and would love to go back.
However, there’s this kinda scary moment at the top of the wall. I got to the top of one wall, about 20 feet up I think, and it was time to let go. I looked down at my harness clipped to the auto-belay thingy and then back down at the mat on the ground. It really did seem like I was up higher than 20 feet. And I was just supposed to let go? It was going to catch me? Yeah, right.
I had watched several other people climb the very same wall before I did. I watched as they got to the top and let go of the wall, with the rope clipped to their harness catching them and slowly letting them drop back down to the spongy mat at the bottom. It seemed so easy.
But then, when it was my turn to let go, trusting that harness and that rope was the last thing I wanted to do. My arms were tired of holding onto the wall but I just couldn’t seem to make them let go.
It’s going to catch you. The words reached me from where Conner stood waiting and I remember shaking my head at him.
No it won’t. I can’t let go. I think those words clicked in my head then, making me realize how ridiculous I sounded.
Not wanting to be defeated, I pushed off backwards from the wall with my toes and let go. And yeah, there was that split second of free fall and panic where I genuinely thought it wasn’t going to work and I was about to fall 20 feet and break something (I know that’s not super high or anything but I’m rather talented at injuring myself). The harness worked though, and the rope slowed my fall, and I landed on the mat with shaky legs and a somewhat red face from embarrassment that it took me so long to let go.
I’d also like to say that since I knew the rope and harness worked the first time, I had no trouble the second time, but that wouldn’t be exactly true. I repeated the process, climbing to the top of a different route, and then hesitated at the top, not wanting to let go again right afterwards. I had to force myself to let go the second time, and the third. Only after three tries did I begin to hesitate a little bit less before letting go.
And that’s just a little wall at a rock climbing gym. Now multiply that by 1 billion and I think maybe that might be sorta close to how Peter felt when he stepped out onto the Sea of Galilee, walking on the waves, and then glancing away from Jesus for just a moment and beginning to sink. Talk about panic. I can’t imagine it.
But Jesus catches him. He doesn’t let him sink. And I wonder if Peter had a red face too after he was “safe and sound” back in the boat with Jesus. I wonder if he wanted to say something like, “Hey, you were right when you said I could walk out to you. I’m sorry I doubted.”
I wonder if he knew that he was just as safe walking on the waves with his eyes on Jesus as he was in the boat.
All too often I let my fear of the waves outweigh my trust in the person walking on them. And by all too often I mean daily, rock climbing being just one example.
Sure, Jesus could probably get this done, but I’m just me and it’s just too difficult.
Sure, Jesus might be able to let that go, but does he know how terrible those words were?
Sure, Jesus would know how to navigate this conversation but I don’t know what to say. Is he really going to help when the words decide to disappear?
Sometimes the fear wins. The doubt wins. I don’t climb out of the boat.
And this past weekend I really didn’t want to let go of the wall. But eventually the rubber meets the road and I have to decide, Do I trust the person holding out their hands or not?
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior.” – Oceans
Sometimes you’ll discover that your answer to that question is no, but I hope that challenges you to build that trust again rather than ignore its absence so that someday your answer can be yes.
That way, when He invites you out onto the waves you can climb out of the boat to walk on the water, and when it’s time to let go of the wall, you can jump.