Monday, November 2, 2009

When you walk on water

In the Name of Jesus,
This man whom you see and know, was made strong.

It is JESUS name
And the Faith that comes through Him
That has given this COMPLETE HEALING to him,

-Acts 3:16

I have something burning in my very soul that I need to share with you. And I pray that it changes your life!

Last night I was out walking my two dogs, enjoying the cool crisp fall evening. And O the Joy I am filled with as I soak in Autumn! As I walked I prayed, and contemplated God's work in my life.

First, let me confess to you my humanity. I know that God healed me, and I can see that God healed me, but I still have moments when I wonder "Will this last?" It is then that I stand on a verse He gave me: "I know that everything God does will ENDURE FOREVER...nothing can be taken from it. God does it so that men will revere Him." Ecclesiastes 3:12-14 (abbreviated)

I cannot help but believe that the many whom Jesus healed while he was on this earth had the same struggles with their humanity. Did the lame man wake up every morning wondering if his legs would stand strong once again? Did the blind man's heart skip for a second before he opened his eyes from the dark of sleep, hoping that his eyes would continue to see?

I think that, in their humanity, some of them struggled with the same thing.

FAITH. It is by faith that we experience the fullness of God. My husband and I are learning so much about faith. We are but infants in the grand scheme of faith, but I thank God for where we are, and for what is to come.

Look at Peter's experience with faith in the New Testament-

About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost. But Jesus spoke to them at once. "It's all right," he said. "I am here! Don't be afraid."

Then Peter called to him, "Lord, if it's really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water."

"All right, come," Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.

But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink.

"Save me, Lord!" he shouted. Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. "You don't have much faith," Jesus said. "Why did you doubt me?"

And when they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. "You really are the Son of God!" they exclaimed (Matthew 14:25-33)

Oftentimes we focus on Peters failure in this passage. It is what sticks in one's mind after reading it, wouldn't you say? But look with me at the whole of it.

Peter asked Jesus to command him to walk on water, and Jesus did so. Peter knew that if Jesus spoke it, it could be done. Then came the faith walk. Peter heard Jesus say "Come" and he went. Can you imagine?

There is Jesus, standing out in the middle of some pretty wild surf. Since I live near Seattle, I picture the waves of Lake Washington on a stormy day. To go into Seattle, you drive on a bridge that spans the water. On wild and woolly days, that water gets choppy and rambunctious. One time, when I was a child, we were driving across that bridge, and it was so stormy that a wave crashed up over the edge of the bridge and over the top of our mini-van, engulfing us in water. Definitely not the type of weather and water for a nice little stroll.

I'm wondering if the disciples (Jesus followers) thought they were loosing their minds? Maybe the fear was making them imagine that Jesus was walking towards them?

So Peter takes his first step of faith. "If it is really YOU Jesus, tell me to come to you!" I don't want to take liberties with the Bible, but lets pretend for a moment that he was bluffing. Surely this was a hallucination, but just in case, Peter didn't want to miss out on THIS opportunity. I mean, imagine the story he would have to tell! "You caught an awesome wave? That's pretty cool. I WALKED on them." I don't know. I can only imagine the motivation one would have to ask Jesus to walk on water. I do know that it required faith to even voice the idea, in fact, it required faith to even HAVE that idea! I don't think I would have come up with it on my own.

Jesus saw Peter's faith, and so he called out to him "Come."

Now came Peter's second step of faith. Looking out upon those crashing waves, with the wind whistling around him, he stepped out of the (relative) safety of the boat, and placed his foot on those rebellious waves.

That first step must have felt shocking. His foot hit the water and it was cold and wet...and somehow his foot did not sink. I bet that his mind had a hard time connecting with what was physically happening. One foot was out of the boat now, holding part of his weight. Would he trust the words of his Lord and put both feet on the water, in complete faith?

It seems like that first step of faith was a two step process. Are there times where I only step out partially in faith, without allowing God to fulfill His word and complete His work?

And so, Peter did his part, he stepped out on the deep blue, and when he placed both of his feet on the water, he walked. He moved his feet and walked in faith out over the depths of that lake, and that faith-walk was recorded in the history of God's word as an example for us all of what stepping out in faith looks like.

Now we get to the part where fear invaded Peter's faith, and caused him to start sinking in the reality that surrounded him. He took his eyes off Jesus, and looked instead at the physical circumstance he was in. He stood amidst crashing waves, far from the safety of the boat. His world was rocking, the waves beat at his confidence as they shook his body. And he allowed fear to enter in as he began to look at himself.

We mentally chide Peter as we read this. "Oh Peter, how could you? I mean, come on! You can SEE Jesus! You have seen him heal people from horrible diseases right before your eyes! You have seen him multiply a few pieces of bread and fish to feed a thousand people! You have sat at his feet and learned about the Kingdom of God! Peter! Get ahold of yourself!"

It is here that we are again given a visual of what it is like for us to walk in faith. Once we step out in faith, we in our humanity feel exposed, because the only thing carrying us is God. We live in earthly bodies in a physical world, and sometimes when we are surrounded by our waves, we can't see Jesus anymore. We see those waves crashing, ready to overtake us. We see our physical ailments and symptoms. We see our emotional distress that is too much to handle on our own. We see life circumstances of complete impossibility financially and economically. And it is too much to bear. You see, we are now looking around us, not at Christ. When we decide we are stepping out in faith, we have to focus on God: Who He is, What He can do, and What He has promised to us in His Word- the Bible. Our success depends on wearing blinders to the things that entangle us.

"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish." Hebrews 12:2 (NLT)

From start to finish. We keep our eyes on Jesus from that first step, that decision TO step, and we keep our eyes on Jesus as we walk. And then we remain with our eyes on Jesus.

How do we do this? Do we just think really hard about God and Jesus? What does it mean to keep my eyes on Jesus? The most foundational and important part of faith is found here. We have to read His Word. We have to read the Bible.

We pray, yes. Pray fervently! Pray desperately! Pray joyfully!

But my friends, we can only form faith and grow in faith through reading God's Word. This sounds so elementary I know, but its the plainly laid out truth. God uses His word to speak to us. If we aren't reading it, we are shortchanging God on opportunities to speak. When you read the Word, it makes its way into your very soul. And as life happens, God will bring what you have read to mind, and that my friends, is God speaking to you. What is wonderful, is that when He speaks His Word to you, it is TRUTH. That truth never fails. It is THE truth.

Here is something mind blowing- Gods truth is greater than your reality. He is beyond our reality, not trapped in an earthly realm with physical laws that box us in. When we unite ourselves with God, He picks us up out of our reality and places us in his realm of all-possibility.

Reflect with me on Peter's slip of faith. He shouted "Save me Lord!" INSTANTLY Jesus reached out and helped him stand again. Thank you Lord for Peter's sheer humanity. Thank you for letting us know that when we stumble in our faith you are there. When we cry out, you are INSTANTLY there. You set our feet on solid ground again.

The men who followed Jesus- His disciples- the ones who walked with Jesus daily, walked in faith yes, but also humanity. We learn from them that God uses doubters, people who fail, human people. God saves and heals doubters and sinners. Thank you God!

I learned through my healing what it means to step out in faith. We felt God telling us something, and if I hadn't ACTED, I wouldn't have received that gift of healing. I had to reach out and walk on water. Jesus said "Come." If I hadn't listened and taken that opportunity, I would still be sick. How heart wrenching that is for me to say! How many times do we miss out on something God has for us because we second-guess what He has said, and fail to Walk?

Once you step out in faith it is a continual process. I read and re-read Scriptures from His Word daily, even hourly, that hold promises for me and my situations in my life. I cling to them. I have moments of doubt. Days of doubt even. But Praise the Lord for his mercy! I cry out and he is instantly there for me, forgiving my doubt, and setting my feet on truth once again. This process will continue for the rest of my earthly life. Stepping out in faith can be very scary. It will defy your earthly sensibilities. It will DEFY YOUR REALITY, and place you into GOD'S ABSOLUTE OVERCOMING TRUTH.

I pray that you will begin that glorious faith-walk in the areas of your life where God is saying "Come."



Violet said...

One of my favorite books is by Madeleine L'Engle, and it is called, "Walking on Water" (Reflections on Faith and Art)...Until I read your post today I hadn't thought much about the title, why she chose it, what it meant to her. The book is about creativity... but even more so about faith. Which, as you said so well, and Paul says in Hebrews 11:1 - "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see." Thank you for words of hope and light!

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