Friday, January 15, 2010
Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24. but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. 25. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. 27. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." 28. And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water." 29. He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; 30. but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." 31. Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" 32. And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God" (Matthew 14:22-33 NIV).
My favorite place on earth is the beach – any beach – as long as there is sand. I find myself yearning for the ocean if I haven’t been there in a while. I have a ritual or a routine when I visit the beach. I like to just stand on the boardwalk and breathe in deeply with my eyes closed. I take in the sound of the waves and inhale the fresh salty air.
My lungs fill with the briny mist of “ocean air.” I stand still for a while and then I lick my lips. It’s not until I taste the saltiness that I really begin to unwind and take in the beauty and power of the sea. At that point I begin my sojourn back to nature and rhythm and order in accordance with God’s creation plan.
I like to visit the beach in the winter because I am all but alone and it becomes my own personal journey back to the water and the sand. My hair starts to frizz immediately, but I literally feel the pores of my skin opening up and rejoicing to be cleansed and refreshed by the salty mist. I like to go for long walks and look out at the horizon where water meets sky.
I think about Jesus and Peter in the boat at times like that. Jesus walking to his friends to comfort them, to reassure them, perhaps even to save them from drowning. And poor Peter – so much like each of us! He desperately wants to trust Jesus. He even takes a bold step out onto the water. When he began to sink, he must have felt as I do when a huge wave crashes over me and I can’t tell up from down or sky from ocean floor. It’s a terrible, frightening feeling – almost as if you are about to die!
I am ashamed to admit how many times I “start to trust Jesus.” All too often I don’t end up trusting him! I take back my thoughts or my plans. He’s not acting quickly enough. Things aren’t going the way I envisioned them. I’m not in control! Never mind, Jesus, I’ve got this one—but thanks. Oh, but then I begin to sink. And I flounder and sometimes I start to go under.
That is the point at which I tell Jesus, “Oh, what I said before—never mind! I really do need you. Please save me.” And of course, He always does. Sometimes He lets me flounder around a while until I learn the lesson. But He never lets me sink all the way down.
He bids us to come to Him. “Keep your eyes on me,” he instructs us. “I will walk with you,” He promises. And we believe him – for a while. Like Peter we forget the instructions. We start to think about all the what-ifs and buts and maybes. Jesus gives us one simple, infallible, timeless, and all-purpose command. “Come.” So easy, and yet so difficult.
My prayer today is that you breathe in the love of Jesus with every breath you take. And that you remember there is only one thing you need to get where you’re going: obey when Jesus bids you, “Come.”
Blessings on your journey,
This was originally posted at Worship for the Weekday, January 27, 2006.