You can’t walk on water unless you get out of the boat.
This little saying is used in countless circumstances, and describes pretty well the emotions we all feel when taking on a difficult task, or making the choice to do, well, most anything that’s hard.
And, obviously, in a spiritual sense, it’s a great saying. In the story from the Bible, Peter and his friends saw Jesus walking on the water, and Jesus coaxed him out of the boat. He nervously stood on the water, took a few steps, freaked out, and began to sink. Jesus put out his hand, steadied Peter, and saved him.
I love that story. It perfectly encapsulates the emotions that so many of us feel, not when we are necessarily taking on a difficult task, but when we make the decision to change and grow as Christians. Few things are as hard as spiritual growth, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve tried, and failed, countless times.
It’s hard because in order to grow as a Christian we must lay bare all of our shortcomings, and then turn our back on them. Sounds easy, right? Well, as imperfect humans born to sin, those sins become pretty ingrained into our being. From anger to addictions, and from lies to rebellion, our hang-ups become very central to our being. They become part of who we are, for better or worse.
And then we begin to recognize that these sins and hang-ups are truly holding us back from who we want to be as Christian men and women, and so we stand there on the edge of the boat staring at the angry sea beyond. We are forced to throw open the closet door that hides all of our deepest secrets and shine a giant spotlight on them. We must drag them all out in to the light for all the world to see.
And friends, none of that is easy. Not at all. But after we all stand there on the edge of the boat, staring at the angry sea beyond, we think about our friend Peter. Peter, who was mortified (rightfully so) of walking out onto that water, but he did it. He took the all-important first step of admitting that he was terrified, but finally taking a deep breath and doing the impossible. And when he invariably lost faith in his ability to do the impossible, Jesus caught him and saved him.
So, I’m standing there on the edge of the boat with you. I cannot count the times that I have taken a deep breath, said “I’ve got this”, put one toe in the water, and freaked out. My insecurities, fears, and weakness keeps me on the boat.
But then I (and you) have to consider the alternative: a life not fully lived in Christ’s image.
And that’s simply not acceptable for someone that has come to understand that my life is short, and that I have a brief period here with which to be everything I can be. And that’s really the crux: do it or don’t. Be everything you can be, or live handicapped. Go out as a soldier of God, or cower behind your fears and hang-ups.
Drag out a piece of paper. Write on it the things in your life that you want to change in one column. In the other column, write out why you are scared to do so. And then just stare at the paper and see just how weak and humbling your excuses are. For me, I read my reasons and they sounded like reasons my 7 year old son would give me for not wanting to try a new food.
I might not be able to do it.
I kinda like to (name your sin or hang-up) even though I know it’s wrong.
I’m not strong enough.
I’ve been doing (name your sin or hang-up) so long I’m not sure how to change.
And then you just go on and on. And they’re all so WEAK, aren’t they? I mean, Peter was literally asked to do the impossible – walking on water. And yet Christ helped him do exactly that. You and I are sitting on the boat, and we’re just being asked to live in a manner that truly reflects Christ, and we can’t muster the guts to really put forth our best effort!
Pray big time. Analyze what you want to change, and how you want to do it. Ask for forgiveness, strength, and direction. And then climb over that railing on the boat and get to living right. If you try, I’ll try. Again. And we’ll both trust that Christ will catch us if we fall.