If you want to walk on water … expect a storm


If you want to walk on water …

… expect a storm

The top line – that’s part of the title of a great John Ortberg book.
His book title ends with …You’ve got to get out of the boat”

It’s my  line that ends with expect a storm

John Ortberg’s title is definitely on target – it’s pretty impossible to walk on water while we’re still in the boat.

However – there’s part of that “getting out of the boat” that isn’t always so obvious.  Or maybe it is obvious – but we choose to ignore it?

After all – remember how it happened with Peter –

Jesus Walks on the Water

Mt 14:22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Mt 14:25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
Mt 14:27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Mt 14:28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
Mt 14:29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Mt 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Mt 14:32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Mt 14:34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

 We read here that the boat was “buffeted by the wind”.  OK – it was windy.  Don’t know how many of you have been out on a boat in the wind, but that’s kind of a relative term.  I was out salmon fishing in Alaska one time, 30 minutes out into the ocean on a 26 foot motor boat – it was raining and windy.  Two of us (plus the boat captain) thought it was fun.  Everyone else got sick.

So let’s look at Mark’s account of this little trip – 

Jesus Walks on the Water

Mk 6:45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
Mk 6:47 When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
Mk 6:53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

This one leaves out Peter’s water walking, but does include the extra detail of the men straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.  These were experienced fishermen, so the additional information about them straining at the oars give an idea that this was not their normal boat excursion.

And this is the environment when Peter steps out of the boat.

What is it with Jesus and water?

Getting involved with Jesus and water seems like a non-trivial experience.

For instance, we read about another storm –

Jesus Calms the Storm

Mt 8:23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
Mt 8:26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Mt 8:27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

This time, we’ve got a furious storm.  And these experienced fishermen aren’t just straining – they’re scared!  They’re afraid the boat will sink and they’ll all drown.

So what’s the real issue here?

Earlier, I wrote –

However – there’s part of that “getting out of the boat” that isn’t always so obvious.  
Or maybe it is obvious – but we choose to ignore it?

Maybe there’s one more possibility to consider?

Maybe it is obvious that a storm’s coming – and we know it, at least in our head.
But – and this is the key – we can’t get the fear of that storm out of our hearts.
We know we should have faith – but our fear, conscious or not – is greater than our faith.

That is, after all, the question that Jesus asks in both instances – 

Mt 14:31 … “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?

Mk 6:50“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Not enough faith.

Too much doubt and fear.

No wonder Jesus addressed this issue separately –

Do Not Worry

Lk 12:22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Lk 12:27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Lk 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Yes – too much worry.
And look at that last sentence –

Lk 12:34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Where are our hearts?

Seems like not in the right place.

This seems to say a lot about my life the last three years.
It was a few years ago – don’t remember exactly when, but somewhere around there – I really wanted to do more.  To be closer to Jesus.  To help others come to know Him.  I was writing on weekends.  Teaching a bit.  
Then I was forced to retire.  Surprisingly, I actually could afford it.
But still – it was a huge upheaval in my life and for my wife.  Too much fear.
I did take the opportunity to write more – but still – there was the continuation of things going wrong.

I even wrote a few articles on one of our dogs – Dewey, a Shih-Tzu – and his experiences going through chemo.  Ultimately, his cancer got into his brain, and we had to put him to sleep. Before that, I also wrote about another of our ‘kids” – Hachiko, a Chow Chow mix who had been abused and was now with us.  He’s doing much better, but still afraid when he’s outside of his “normal world”.  All of these are in a series called “learning from dogs“.

One more thing –

There is a reason for writing this one today.

This song kept going through my head last night.  If you’re the right age – you may remember it.
I’m thinking it’s not just a simple coincidence.

Put your hand in the hand
Of the man who stilled the water

Put your hand in the hand
Of the man who calmed the sea.
Take a look at yourself and
A you can look at others diff’rently

By puttin’ your hand in the hand
Of the man from-a Galilee.

Ev’ry time I look into the Holy Book
I want to tremble
When I read about the part
Where a carpenter cleared the temple;
For the buyers and the sellers were
No diff’rent fellas than what I profess to be

And it causes me shame to know I’m not the guy
That I should be.

And why is it important, let alone relevant?

Well, think back to Peter’s attempt to walk on water – towards Jesus.

Mt 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Interesting, isn’t it?

Jesus takes Peter’s hand, and everything’s OK.

Conclusion

Whose hand are you holding?

There is a second part to this idea of walking on water.
It’s right here –>  

Jesus, water, storms and …

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