Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water

Summer brings back all the memories of sand and surf, and for me, the day my dad took the family to see the movie Jaws. This was by far the most frightening thing I had encountered in my young life to this point. We always enjoyed summer vacations at Myrtle Beach, SC, and we were looking forward to another “adventure,” as my parents would call them. My parents would wake us up in the middle of the night, pack us in the car, and begin the six hour trip south to the beach. These were the good old days, until the movie of a decade created a fear, and made even looking at the ocean a frightening scene. It was a fear we all got out of our system after the first foot hit the water and the movie left our minds. Imagine how the disciples felt when Jesus appeared to them walking on the water. God’s Word in the book of Matthew demonstrates how fear and doubt of God’s promises can cause chaos. When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, some felt it was a ghost, but immediately Jesus quieted their fear and doubt by announcing it was He. Peter beckoned Jesus to allow him the honor of doing as Jesus was doing. Jesus response may have been something like, “come on in Peter, the water is fine as long as you believe.” Peter was amazed as he climbed out of the boat, walking on the water just as Jesus was doing. But, as we all do sometimes, Peter soon lost trust, doubting Jesus at His word, and found he was sinking. Jesus reached out and picked him up, causing Peter and the other disciples to be convinced that He was just who He said He was.
We all come to our time to get out of the boat. We all would prefer being in shallow water near the beach, feeling the comfort of the sand beneath our feet. This would allow us to walk without the fear of “getting in over our head.” There comes a time when we really have no choice but to take that huge first step and trust that the water is not too deep, or too cold. We find comfort in knowing that there is a lifeguard on duty to rescue us if needed. Our personal lifeguard, Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer, has been there for us in the past, and will be there for us in years to come. We take these plunges into the water knowing and feeling His presence. These “plunges” can be events such as graduation, a marriage, a new job, a major illness or some other life changing experience that puts our faith and trust to the test.

The bigger question is, “where will you be when you need to take this life altering leap from the boat?” Will you be in the middle of some crisis pushing you further and further away from God? Will you be in the middle of a very prosperous period in your life and feeling very confident in your own ability to handle any situation? Will you be at your wits end and struggling to get by? God chooses to test us at some of the most trying and difficult times in our lives. He has already mapped these things out and is now ready to let them play out, according to His will. It may seem that we have done everything in our power to avoid these particular situations, but what is our power compared to the awesome and majestic power of our God? When we stop searching for answers in His Word, when we stop praising His name in prayer, when we stop our daily worship of Him, then we have no choice but to jump in and start swimming for the shore. God gives us everything we need, and more, to get through this life He has scripted out for us. It’s then our responsibility to put His wisdom and knowledge to work in our lives. We may have more good days than bad, but it’s all about His math and not ours.

There are several chapters and verses in the Bible that assure us of a prosperous life, but they all come with a few requirements on our part. Among other things, we must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He sits on the right hand of God interceding on our behalf. This way, we have no issue with getting out of the boat, because if we sink, He will reach out to us. If we sink, then He will teach us to swim. It’s taking the first step that is the most difficult. As human beings, we always want a definite outcome, a very predictable result of stepping out into a new challenge or event, knowing what awaits us at the end. The most difficult proposition to handle is the mystery, the absence of that definite result as we face these dilemmas. Our human nature seems to work against the idea of the unknown. We fight this idea of not being in control, not being able to individually overcome any obstacle. This goes against everything we are taught by our parents, teachers, coaches, mentors and others involved in our upbringing as they boost our confidence. We are even taught to swim at a young age in order to deal with the situation of jumping out of the boat.

As we mature in our faith, we must make a concerted effort to be the example, to be a devoted servant. We must make time to visit God’s Word daily, making sure we take in all of the wonderful wisdom and knowledge offered freely by the Holy Spirit. We need to make sure we are questioning, searching for the truth found in the pages of the Word. We need to make sure we do a systems check on our faith daily and verify that we are on the right path. As devoted servants, we must always seek His will, His purpose for our existence. We know that we cannot make this trip on our own, for it is God who freely gives us the faith to get through any challenge and the grace and mercy to deal with the outcome, regardless of our perception. His will may not necessarily be our favorite outcome, but then again, if we firmly believe and trust in our Lord, we will be taken care of. He will be “on duty” every day as our personal life guard, ready to come to our rescue any time we “get in over our head.”

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