Giving up comfort for risk

This week’s blog entry continues on previous weeks’ reflections on the story of Peter walking on water.

Here’s the Bible passage from Matthew 14:25-32 –

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

*

Peter followed Jesus’ command to get out of the boat and walk on water. However, while he was walking on water, he saw the stormy winds and rough waves and started to panic. When he lost his faith in Jesus enabling him to walk on water, he started to sink.

Peter failed in his attempt to walk on water. Yet though he failed, he wasn’t the biggest failure in the boat. In fact, out of all the disciples, it can be argued that Peter was the most successful. While the other disciples trembled with fear in the boat, at least Peter had a moment of glory when he walked on water. He experienced walking on liquid that was solid as a rock. The disciples in the boat were greater failures because their fear made them stay in the boat, in what seemed to be safe and they missed out on the opportunity of experiencing the miracle of walking on water.

God calls us to walk on water, to let go of our fears in the pursuit of an extraordinary dream. What’s your dream? Maybe it’s to write a book, make a film or start a new business. Maybe it’s to be a missionary to the lost in a distant country, or to adopt a child who has been abandoned by his mother. Are you willing to heed God’s call and risk failure and discomfort?

If you heed God’s call, it doesn’t mean that you won’t fail. Peter obeyed God’s call to walk on water, but he failed to stay walking. However, that’s ok. God doesn’t expect us to walk perfectly when we heed his call to get out of the boat because when you say yes to God’s call, you can learn and grow even from your failures.

When you answer God’s call, it will change your life. You will live a life extraordinary that is empowered by God’s strength. However, if you reject God’s call, you will also change. You will become a little harder, a little more resistant to God’s voice.

Today, Jesus is inviting you to go on the adventure of your life. He wants you to chase that impossible dream, pursue your passion and take on what will bring fulfilment to your life. You may be resisting God’s call because it means having to step into the storm. You may want to stay in the boat where it’s safe, secure and comfortable. It’s stormy and if you get out of the boat, it’s likely that you will sink. But if you don’t get out of the boat, you’ll never walk on water. You’ll never experience the thrill of being empowered by Almighty God. You’ll never know what it means to leave behind a mundane, ordinary life and abandon yourself to the high adventure of following a God who performs miracles.

What’s your boat? Your boat is whatever represents safety and security to you apart from God himself. Your boat is what you put your trust in when you face risk and danger. Your boat is what you find comfortable. Your fear will tell you what your boat is. Ask – what is it that most produces fear in me – especially when I think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith? Your boat is what keeps you from bravely trusting God. Leaving your boat is tough and it might be the most difficult thing you’ll ever have to do.

You may want to avoid danger by staying in the boat, but not leaving the boat also has its dangers. If you live in the boat, you may die of boredom and stagnation.

Whenever you want to walk on water, you’ll encounter fear. Being scared is the price of growth. When you follow Jesus, it’s a path that will continually throw up temptations to be fearful. As John Ortberg writes:

Here is a deep truth about water-walking: the fear will never go away. Why? Because each time I want to grow, it will involve going into new territory, taking on new challenges. And each time I do that, I will experience fear again. Now you can give up trying to make fear go away. The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life.

Both choices – risk and comfort – tend to grow into a habit. Each time you take a risk, you will be more likely to take another risk. The fear doesn’t go away, but you get used to living with fear. Your fear can’t destroy you, so it doesn’t bother you that much. However, if you resist Jesus’ call to get out of the boat time and time again, His voice becomes quieter in you. Then in the end you don’t hear His call at all.

So learn to embrace the fear and get out of the boat to walk on water. You’ll find that the scariest decision you ever have to make is the wisest one that you have chosen as it’ll enable you to do the miraculous and help you reach your divine destiny, bringing you more joy and fulfilment than you ever thought possible.