If you want to walk on water…
Junior Choice, the Saturday morning radio programme showcasing the latest poptastic pickings from the music charts was a regular feature of my childhood. One song, in particular, stands out. Bobby Gentry’s “what do you get when you fall in love?”
Join in if you know the chorus…
What do you get when you fall in love?
A guy with a pin to burst your bubble
That’s what you get for all your trouble
I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love again
It’s hardly a positive advert for romance and it makes me wonder what my dad thought of my mum singing along to it!
Now here is the thing. These lyrics express a common human response to disappointments, injury and trauma. Fear and failures send our souls into risk-averse, safe-mode. That is, to places where we make vows never to trust, love, risk or be vulnerable again. I suspect that many of us in these post-traumatic, nervy days of war, pestilence and economic insecurity are writing similar lines, even as we seek to be faith-filled and grasp new things.
I was recently reflecting on Jesus’ call to Peter to get out of a boat in a storm and walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33). Maritime advice these days instructs sailors to stay with the boat until the very last, but Jesus flips that on its head and invites his disciples to step out from the safety of the boat onto the wildness of the sea. Getting out of the apparent security of whatever boat or port we have found in the storm is hard, yet Jesus calls us all to be water walkers, to trust his goodness despite the raging waves and to step out in faith.
We face many perturbing and fearful storms around us these days. Many of us worry about the winter fast approaching and would rather hunker down and hide it out. But faith calls us not to safety but to risk and courage.
Niall Anderson once wrote:
“Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. What a privilege for us to be able to walk by faith in God Himself, armed with all the promises of His Word. I suppose we all desire the security of the solid tree trunk, but the fruit is out on the limb. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The timid soul asks, “What do I stand to lose if I do it?” The fruit-bearing Christians ask, “What do I stand to lose if I don’t do it?” Real life is lived on the cutting edge.
Peter does the impossible by faith. His action provokes each of us in our storm to ask three questions
1. Who am I looking at? Peter walks on water when he centres himself on Jesus. Justin Welby put it so clearly in his sermon at the Queen’s funeral “Jesus – does not tell his disciples how to follow, but who to follow”. As someone has said, “faith grows by considering its object.”
2. What am I hearing? Above the noise of the storm, Jesus imparted courage to Peter with a word: “take courage”. God’s word achieves what it asserts, and he is gifted with courage. Faith grows as we choose God’s truth over the clamour of the enemy’s lies.
3. How will I act? Peter makes the next step; he puts his foot on the crest of the wave and enters a miracle. Faith is proved by action. That first small step was pivotal.
This weekend our guest speaker Clive Corfield will be helping us to make fresh steps of faith. These are noisy days packed with multiple concerns but he promises that we will not go under as we respond to his word and seek his face and step forward in faith. Are you ready for the next step?