(Get Out of the Boat, Part 2)
There’s a 92% chance that nobody will ever criticize you for playing it safe.
There’s an 11 out of 12 probability that when all hell’s breaking loose, it won’t be advisable for you to throw yourself headlong into something even more stressful.
There’s only an 8% likelihood the circumstances, life, people or even God would ever ask you to do something completely unprecedented, electrifyingly dangerous, or humanly impossible.
So you can probably just skip this post and resume your normal activities.
Unless today’s that one-in-twelve – or once-in-a-lifetime – kind of day.
From “Oh My!” to “Uh Oh!”
As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.
Meanwhile, 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.
But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”
He 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!”
Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”
The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”(Matthew 14:22-33, MSG).
Here was a group of men who worked in boats for a living, and they were terrified.
First, they were terrified of the storm.
Then they were even more terrified of the image of Jesus walking on the water. A ghost, they feared.
Seriously? They’ve just been on a major miracle-working mission trip, followed by a table-side seat to the feeding of the five thousand. And the best they can come with is, “It’s a ghost!”?
Then – get this – Jesus tells them to be fearless – “It is I,” He said.
Whew! I feel better already.
Apparently Peter didn’t.
Two Visions of Following Jesus
Yearning to enter into the world of the supernatural, not content to live clinging to the mast for the rest of his life, Simon Peter got this crazy idea in his head.
He did that often.
In fact, Peter always seemed to have this crazy way of thinking, “If Jesus can do it, why can’t I?” After all, Jesus did say “Follow me.” And Peter had. He had followed Jesus into becoming an instrument of healing and deliverance in Jesus’ name. He had followed Jesus into a challenge to feed 5,000 people; that job got done, but Jesus wound up having to do it Himself.
And now? Yet another unprecedented scene. Yet another unscripted adventure.
There in the boat were two different visions of following Jesus. Neither was necessarily right or wrong. But they were very different visions.
One vision – the super-majority view – was to play it safe. Stay in the boat and attend to business as best you can. Trusting, of course, that Jesus will honor your faith by rescuing you from danger and rewarding you for attending to your boat management duties.
Look, even James and John – the “Sons of Thunder” – took this approach. And I’ll guarantee you they weren’t huddled in whatever mariners call the corner of the ship, crying like little schoolgirls. They were manning their posts – laboring with all their might to get the ship to safety.
And that’s the key word in times of peril. Right? The number-one need in this situation is for safety.
But wait a minute. There was a minority report. A completely different way of seeing the same situation. Peter, hearing the voice of Jesus, is not content with words. He wants in on the action.
If Jesus can do it, why can’t I?
“Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”
This was crazy. This is the kind of thing you do on calm seas, from an anchored boat, in shallow water so you can learn proper water-walking techniques.
At least that’s how 92% of the crowd would see it.
And Jesus met that sense of curiosity, wonder, and I-want-in right where it was.
Was Peter afraid? Maybe. He certainly was when he began to sink. The issue that Peter faced is whether he would be willing to do something completely unprecedented and say no to his fears in order to move toward Jesus.
And that’s the issue we all face – will you keep moving toward Jesus even when you’re the only one doing it, even when it looks insanely impossible, even when you’re terrified?
What it Means to Get Out of the Boat
It means recognizing that where there is no fear, there is no adventure…
Where there is no risk of failure, there is no opportunity for rapid growth.
Where there is no yearning to push back against the storms, there is no opportunity to experience supernatural power.
It means that you can trust Jesus in the places and choices where you are most afraid – even to the point you will leave your last source of human security.
Anybody can play it safe, and in your personal version of Katrina or 9/11, nobody would ever criticize you for doing just that.
But maybe this time the call from Jesus is to run into the burning building or to hurl yourself against the storm.
Maybe the call is to do something you’ve never done before – or that nobody’s ever done before (like those heroes of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11).
Maybe, just maybe, the call from Jesus this time is join Him and walk on the water.
Look at the odds.
Just stay with the majority.
Opt for safety.
You’ll be OK.
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