Thursday, August 07, 2014

Stepping out of the boat....Matthew 14: 22-33

On a recent vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we had the opportunity as a small group to take a brief fishing charter out into the sound just off Ocracoke Island. It was a warm day. For the most part the water was calm. There was a bit of a chop when we hit open water, but nothing too overwhelming. A couple passes of the ferry and some larger vessels gave us a time as our course crossed their wakes. The captain knew what he was doing, though.

We drifted for a time with lines in the water. One flounder was caught and designated for dinner the next night. After that, as the sun set, we made our way back to the dock. That sort of a water voyage fosters pleasant memories. It makes one think that a life on the water might be a good idea. It encourages one to check boat prices online.

It isn't reality in its full context, though.

I respect the waters of the earth. From river to sea, from harbor to ocean I am deeply aware that human beings might make their way out onto, into or through the waters...but they are not our natural element. We are terrestrial visitors to a fluid environment. We can become skilled at navigating those waters...but there is always an element of great risk.

Still, many have answered the call of the sea. Some to fish, some to explore, some to just enjoy the challenge.

One waterman stands out for me today, though. Peter, the boatman and fisherman, is trying to keep his vessel and its occupants afloat during a nighttime storm that from the sound of the scripture would make any mariner contemplate retirement. Into that tumult, or rather in the midst of it, they become aware of someone walking on the water. After the distraction comes the fear...then comes wonder as they realize that the figure they are seeing is Jesus. He is walking on the water in the midst of the storm.

Peter, feeling something in his heart, asks if he can join his teacher in the great "out there."

"Come," says Jesus. And Peter steps out of the boat.

He steps out of the boat.

Too often we focus on that moment when he realizes just how irrational an act it was to step out of a boat and onto storm-wracked waters. We see his hope turned to fear and doubt...and we watch as Jesus chides him, takes his hand and raises him up from his sinking into the depths.

Shift your eyes and your heart, though....and remember....he got out of the boat.

How many times have we had to face that moment in life? That moment when we are in the hands of forment and it seems that it takes all our energy and resolve to keep our vessel afloat when the God's invitation to real life is to get out of the boat, to take a step onto a fluid surface, to choose hope over hesitation.

Peter is my hero on a lot of levels, and chiefly because of this trait he demonstrates again and again: Reason and rationality are fine for the most part, but if we are to follow Jesus, then we have to be willing at some point to get up, get out of the boat and walk....

We might sink, yes. But how will we know until we attempt it? Moreover, how will we ever learn to truly walk in faith, in the knowledge and love of the Lord, unless we are willing to take that first step.

To step out of the boat....

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