Monday, September 5, 2011

Get Out of the Boat

Get Out of the Boat
September 5, 2011
Matthew 14:29 "'Come,' [the Lord] said."

We've all heard the story about Jesus walking on the water; it was during this same instance that He called to Peter and he, too, walked on water. (To get the full effect of the story, it must be read in three versions of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, & John). The disciples had just witnessed the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. Then Jesus instructed the disciples to go on ahead to the next stop, which required an evening's row across a lake. In fact, the lake was approximately 8-10 miles across; the disciples had made it about half way across by 2 a.m. They were rowing the boat when a storm began to blow; they struggled to row against it. Then rising out of the stormy night, they saw an apparition walking on the lake; they didn't know it was Jesus. They were petrified, believing what they saw was a ghost, or an evil spirit. It was like a scene out of a scary, horror movie--a dark and stormy night complete with a suspenseful spirit.

Jesus knew their fearful thoughts and called out to them, telling them not to be afraid. They heard His voice, a familiar voice. Peter decided to double check, wanting to make sure it was really Him. Peter asked Jesus to invite him out on the water to verify His identity. Peter said, "Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water." Then Jesus said, "Come." When Peter heard that word "Come," he knew it was Jesus and stepped out of the boat to walk on the water with Him. Peter was willing to step out in faith because he had heard the voice of Jesus. Recall when Peter met Jesus for the first time. Peter was in the exact same position, sitting in a boat, and Jesus said, "Come." Peter was familiar with this direction from the Lord; he had heard it before. He followed the first time, and he was willing to get out of the boat to walk on the water when he heard it again. But notice, before Jesus called him from the safety of the boat, to walk out in faith, Peter made himself available to the opportunity.

I recall one time when the Lord asked me to step out in faith. I had been a Christian for years, and was trying to figure out the next step in my life. I needed direction. After making myself available to the Lord through prayer, I distinctly heard His voice calling me to make a huge move (about 2,000 miles away from my current, comfortable position). I was willing to follow The Voice because I was familiar with it. After moving forward, though, I became afraid; it was a major decision and I didn't really have a plan. All I had was that voice telling me to step out. After speaking with a very wise man, he counseled me regarding my fears. He told me to re-play that voice in my head, the one calling me out, every time I was fearful in my new journey. Thankfully, I did what he suggested. I stepped out in faith and the Lord carried me through. Fear crept inside my head every now and again, but I played the voice of the Lord over and over, reminding myself it was Him who had called me to step out in faith.

Peter didn't do that. Peter didn't remember it was the voice of the Lord who had called him out of the boat onto that water. Even though it was only moments before, Peter became afraid on the water and started to sink. The fear of sinking is what keeps you and me from stepping out. In fact, the fear of sinking is what keeps us from being willing to step out. We seldom make ourselves available to the Lord, for fear He might actually ask us to step out in faith. Be honest with yourself; you probably aren't willing to sell everything you own and move to a different country tomorrow. And if you have done that, you know what it is like to be fearful of doing the right or wrong thing. But the Lord will always carry you through if you have faith in Him and you are stepping out in obedience to His voice.

Peter didn't begin to sink until he lacked faith out in the midst of the lake. Jesus never changed His position; it was Peter who forgot it was the voice of the Lord calling him to step out. Know that if you step out, you must have faith that the Lord WILL carry you through. Make yourself available, listen for His voice, and remain faithful to that voice however fearful you are when the waters are rough. You will only sink if you lose faith that the Lord is the one calling you, taking your eyes off of Him. Go ahead, make yourself available; He promises not to let you sink when you step out.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Matthew 14, Mark 6, John 6

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