Would-Be Water Walkers

Life is an odd tight-rope walk. We are all engaged in trying to keep our balance between the security of playing it safe and the risky endeavors that hold the potential for high returns. The axiom “nothing ventured, nothing gained” holds true in every facet of life. In the world of money and finance, the risky investment in a high-yield stock holds out the possibility of enormous returns. On the other hand, it usually leaves the investor vulnerable to enormous loss. In the relationships department, the more we trust ourselves to others, the more potential there is for deep and meaningful relationships. The down side? That trust also leaves us defenseless against betrayal and a deeply wounded heart. Jesus could certainly speak to the pain involved in trusting someone and having that someone turn out to be a Judas. A kiss on the cheek, the soldiers move in and a close friend has become the betrayer. A few moments earlier, Jesus was talking to his men and telling them that they were more than disciples, they were His friends. He seemed to derive genuine comfort from their company in the last few hours. He wanted them close to Him. Nevertheless, the trust that provided comfort for Jesus and redemption for the twelve also gave Judas the opening he needed for his treacherous coup de grace.

To have walked with the Christ would have been a daily exercise in the art of risk. It was His way, this launching out into uncharted and perilous waters. He is the one who stood in harsh condemnation of the organized religion of His day, a move that has often carried with it the death penalty. He is the one who sent His disciples out to preach, instructing them to take nothing at all for the journey. Why? He never said, but it looks to me like He was teaching them about the pay-offs of risky endeavors. If I were an artist, I would paint the picture of Peter climbing over the railing of a small boat as the boat pitches wildly from side to side. The sky would be an angry black and the waves would be assaulting the boat from every side. Off in the distance, barely visible through the mist and moonlight, there would be the ghostly figure of a man walking through the waves with an outstretched arm. My imagination has a couple of the disciples tugging on Peter’s robes while the rest were tugging on the oars. There would be a look of grim determination on the face of the would-be water-walker. What would behoove Peter to climb out of the boat? What did he have to gain? You don’t have to be very swift to see what he stood to loose. I think that Jesus chose Peter because of this very quality, along with a few other commodities like honesty and whole-hearted commitment. Peter was willing to go boldly where no man has ever gone. He was the bold one. He would eventually be one of only two with the guts to follow Jesus into the trial room. Peter wasn’t the smartest guy on the block, but he understood that (contrary to popular belief) life isn’t about failure avoidance, but about living. He understood that there is a difference between living and existing. He understood that living begins somewhere out there where the comfortable mapped country fades into the uncharted and dangerous territory. Jesus didn’t come to give us a get-out-of-hell-free card as much as He came to teach us to live life to the fullest. The first step toward the fullest possible life usually is in the direction of the boat railing.

A once-popular country song has in the chorus the line: “I want to live until I die.” Life doesn’t consist of avoiding failure. It consists of risking the bird in the hand for the two in the bush. It’s about the boldness to launch out of the comfort zones. We are all, deep down, would-be water-walkers. We elevate to hero status all those before who risked and won and even many who risked and lost in the accomplishing of important goals. We often focus on the fact that Peter’s faith failed and he began to sink. He got out of the boat…in a storm…not knowing how it would end! Yep I guess in some since of the term, Peter failed. However, there were eleven bigger failures sitting in relative safety on the creaking storm soaked timbers of the deck.

What we really need in this world of ours is some serious boldness — the kind of boldness that gets us out of the comfort zone and out there where real people wrestle with real problems. We have the answers, but are often timid about speaking His name. Lets commit ourselves to living a little this week. I am hoping that this week, you find yourself standing firmly in the middle of stormy lake somewhere. …JD

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