Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You Can't Walk on Water with Your Feet in the Boat

It is hard to break a reputation once you have earned it. One of the great examples of this in the scriptures is in the life of Peter, probably the most well known of the 12 disciples. Throughout the ministry of Jesus, Peter is the guy who is the first to act and the first to speak in many pivotal points. Sometimes this leads to him saying some pretty profound words. After all, Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, the chosen one of God, before any other disciple. There are many touching moments when the tender heart of Peter is revealed in various situations.

However, Peter is a bit more known for his other side. He is the guy that runs his mouth first, usually saying something foolish. He makes promises he cannot keep, most notably his promise to never betray Jesus; just hours after that promise Peter managed to deny Jesus three times. Peter is also the guy who rushes into action without thinking things through; he is the man who cut off a person's ear when soldiers came to arrest Jesus. I get the feeling that would have been a bigger deal if Jesus didn't step in and heal the poor guy by reattaching the ear. He gets labeled as a coward for abandoning Jesus the night before the crucifixion, like all but one of the disciples.

Another time Peter seems to fail is in Matthew 14. One of the most famous scenes in the Bible takes place here when Jesus walks on water through rough seas to reach the boat his followers were on. Peter sees that the figure moving toward them was Jesus, and he asks Jesus to call him out onto the water. Jesus does, and Peter gets out of the boat and begins heading to him. The high seas become too much for Peter, and he begins to sink until Jesus rescues him. Peter is rebuked for his lack of faith, and all the disciples are amazed at what they saw. This event gets written down as yet another time when Peter failed to rise to the occasion.

Call me crazy, but I think Peter deserves some credit here. As people, we tend to focus on the failures of others and overlook their success. As far as I know, there have only been two people that walked on water. One of them was the Son of God. The other one was Peter. Isn't that pretty incredible? How many of us are on a list that short and in such good company? The other disciples all had the same opportunity Peter had; yet none of them were willing to risk that first step. How much courage did it take to leave the safety of your boat and set foot on those waves?

I think there is a lesson here for all of us. If you want to achieve something incredible in your life, you have to get out of the boat. I can promise you that the path God has created for you will not be found in the safe place you are accustomed to; it will be found in the swirling danger far from your comfort. If you allow your fear to lock you in place, the most you can ever be is an observer. Don't just be a spectator in life, participate! Take a risk, and step out of the boat and into the waters of faith.

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