A simple step of faith

June 14, 2019

Peter is my favorite disciple. I know we aren’t supposed to pick favorites (that’s something people say, right?), but he absolutely one hundred percent is mine. If you scroll back through the pages of this blog, you might find me saying that one of the reasons is because I so identify with him, and I guess that would be true. He often speaks or acts before he thinks, he leads with his heart, and he many times finds himself in a position to follow or trust Jesus, and then chooses the opposite – and you find yourself thinking or saying – “oh Peter…”

But if I am being honest, there is probably another reason I have been drawn to Peter over the course of my life. It’s because I see in him, someone and something I’d really like to be, but have struggled to be. Because of his personality, Peter is almost always the most courageous (although some might call it something else), of Jesus’ followers. Not afraid to say something, do something, or believe something when the time comes. It’s all to often open mouth and insert foot, but it’s courage nonetheless, and if I’m being honest, it’s something I wish I had more of. 

Such is the case with the story found in Matthew 14. Take a look at what happens. 

Matthew 14:22–33 (ESV)

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

In the face of a storm, his own fear, and the laws of physics (which were un-named but not unknown back then), Peter demonstrates all the things that make us love him – and walks on water towards Jesus. He takes a huge risk, and in the process, winds up figuring out a truth about Jesus that one might only be able to understand, by doing just that. Even at my best, I don’t know that I can say I have shown that type of faith – but I know a lot of people who have. 

I have a friend named Ben, who visited our church last Sunday. He and his family visit us once about every two years or so. It makes more sense if I tell you that they live in Thailand, and it’s kind of a long commute. One of the reasons they are there is to work with an organization named Zoe International – which is neck deep in the fight to put an end to human trafficking around the globe. It’s one of the noblest of causes, and obviously an incredible thing to be a part of. The stories he tells me about the work they are doing are in many ways, unbelievable. But what’s most impressive to me, is that he and his wife picked up their entire lives, 4 kids and all, and moved all the way to the other side of the world, away from all their family and friends – and the country that allows them to worship freely and without fear – to follow the call of Jesus on their lives. It’s something I know I haven’t even really considered, and I find it incredibly admirable. If you’d like more information about them, or feel led to consider supporting them in prayer or financially – I’d urge you to check them out here (Ben and Jen Wood).

The truth about my life is that perhaps the most “courageous” thing I’ve ever done in my attempt to follow Jesus – is to found HILLCITY Church. Many people might say, “that’s a huge risk” or “I could never do what you did; giving up financial and vocational security for all those unknowns.” The truth is, I was really just following my heart. It didn’t FEEL all that courageous at the time. I knew that financially Emily and I could handle what would happen if the risk didn’t pay off – and it’s not as though there weren’t going to be more ministry jobs available if starting our own church didn’t pay off – and so when my heart said jump – I did with both feet. 

Here’s the thing, when I say it didn’t feel courageous at the time, what I am NOT saying is, it didn’t feel like a risk. Perhaps instead, I am saying that it while I knew there was potential things might blow up in my face – the bigger risk felt like NOT doing the thing my heart was telling me to. I think my friend Ben would tell you the same thing. I’m guessing Peter might too. When you find yourself following Jesus (or in Peter’s case staring right at him in the middle of a storm), the bigger risk becomes not listening when He asks you to do something. When the God of the universe asks you to demonstrate courage, it’s a good bet He’ll be there to walk through the process with you, and like in Peter’s case, there to pick you up in you fall. 

I started a church. Ben and Jen moved to the other side of the globe. Peter walked on water. All three of these have one major thing in common; they’ve led all who were involved to say “Jesus is the Son of God.” I don’t know what your thing is. I doubt Jesus is asking you to start a church, He’s probably not asking you to move to Thailand, and He’s definitely not asking you to try and defy physics any time soon, but I’ll bet there is an area in your life where He’s asking you to ‘take a step out of the boat.’ All I want to say to you is this; do it. The reward far outweighs the risk – every, single, time. Take a step of out of your comfort zone, and talk to that neighbor about your church, ask a friend to sit down and talk about their marriage, offer to pray for your co-worker, or pay a bill for someone who can’t. You’ll never regret it, and more importantly – you’ll experience the reality of who Jesus is, in a way you never could’ve otherwise. 

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