Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Unvarnished...Finding the Bottom

I love the story of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:17-31).  It’s a story; an example that really resonates with me and one that I find myself thinking about in the storms of life and ministry.  To put ourselves in Peter’s position, it seems so easy and we wonder how he could fail.

“Shoot, if it was me, I would have ran across the water.”

He was doing it; he was actually walking on water.  Why?  How?  In essence simply because Jesus told him that he could.  Peter had hollered out, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”  And Jesus simply replied, “Come.”  And he was doing it.  I find myself often stuck at that point; he was doing it, he was actually doing it.  Why?  Because Jesus had simply said, “Come.”

Unfortunately for Peter, despite the miracle taking place below his feet, he became frightened by the wind and began to sink.  And I always go back to that idea, “He was doing it.”  It was only when fear rose in him and he took his eyes off of Jesus did he begin to sink, crying out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus then admonishes Peter, “You of little faith; why did you doubt?”  Think about it, once again there was a miracle taking place under his very feet, he was walking on water.  How great should his faith have been?  He was doing something impossible simply because Jesus had said, “Come.”  How could he fear?  How could he be so easily distracted?  How could his faith fail him so easily?

I think of Peter in the storms of life and ministry.  We know the promises of God, the victories assured (not necessarily in this life), and yet in the storms, despite what God might be doing in that particular moment in our lives, we become focused on the wind.  We become afraid, we despair, and we doubt.  Not necessarily the existence of God, albeit perhaps sometimes, but rather we begin to doubt the control, the power, and perhaps even the goodness of God.  We forget that part of the promises are the storms themselves.  “Come!”  We want to; man, more than anything we want to.  But we sink.  We get caught up in the impossibilities and improbabilities of it all and we become convinced that the storm is too big even for God.  We panic and begin trying to swim, struggling and fighting to get back in the boat; and we forget.  If only we would keep our eyes and faith on Him, we ought to be running across that water.

I find myself in those moments asking myself, perhaps even demanding of myself, “How big is your God?”  For me, that tends to do the trick and I feel myself coming back to the top of the water in the choppy seas.  It’s a valid question I suppose.  To ask it in the storm, as we sink, at least for me, it usually also demands me to ask of myself if I’m being obedient and if I’m truly pursuing Him in the storm.  Did I create my own storm?  There’s a part of me, a powerful part I might add, that recognizes in the storms, I’ve got to be sure that my answers are in the affirmative to those two questions.  I recognize that if they aren’t, I probably don’t want to have that conversation if and when I get yanked up out of the water by a nail scarred hand.  I know that I’m every bit as prone, if not more so, to admonishment than the disciples of the Gospels.

There’s been an awful lot of early victories in this adventure.  I’m beginning to see that perhaps some of them have the potential to be far more significant than I had first given them credit for.  I’ve been amazed, and that word gets thrown around way too much and way too easily, but I’ve been truly amazed at how so much of this has come together so quickly.  For me, it truly has been repeated cases of being in the right place at the right time.  Miracles underfoot.

And then today, quite unexpectedly the first storm presented itself and I found myself thinking of Peter and demanding of myself, “How big is your God Corey?”  I know the answer to that, I know what is taking place under my feet, and yet I struggled with it.  Silly, huh?  But damn, that wind is scary and a whole lot bigger than me.  It is noisy and it is distracting, and yet in the midst of it, little more than a whisper I can still hear the call, “Come!” and my own voice ringing out in my ears, “How big is your God?”

I had joked in a previous blog post about being a pebble falling down in a dark pit that has yet to find the bottom of the hole.  Today, on the way to Sam’s Club of all places, I became keenly aware that I had not only found the bottom of the pit, but that I had known where it was all along.  It is deeper, darker, and potentially even more dangerous than I had figured and the winds were whipping and howling in that moment.

I sit in my office early this evening, my jeans still damp from the knees down, but no longer soaked.  Having answered my questions, “Yes.  Yes.  Far bigger than this storm or this hole.”  From this new vantage point, I can still sense the bottom.  However, I’m no longer a falling pebble; I’m now climbing and I hear the voice pretty clearly now from somewhere up above, in the midst of the whipping winds, “Come.”

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