Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ye of Little Faith

The days until I begin my journey to Sarajevo are dwindling to none. I can still barely believe this is happening. The reality of living in Eastern Europe for 7 weeks is simply too incomprehensible for me, never having done anything of the sort in my life. The longest I've been outside the U.S. is a week, and the UK and France are both relatively familiar, Western places.

However, I'd be lying if I didn't say that the incomprehensibility at times flares into panic. I have so many questions that I can't answer. What will the days be like? Will Bosnians even like me, or want to be my friend? Will I have the courage to talk with them about deep matters and be open about myself, what I believe, and how it has changed me? (I can hardly do that at home with people I've been friends with for years!)

I am having a hard time sleeping tonight as I consider just how crazy this is, and how unprepared I really feel. The real problem, though, is that I keep assuming that I must actively be the one preparing and acting out of my own power. I figured this out as I was reading the cover of a book I just got, and it listed another book this author wrote, called If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. (It's by John Ortberg, by the way.)

I hope you're ready for a whole story this time!

"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night 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. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."' Matthew 14:22-32

Peter took a leap of faith, yes? If he didn't at all believe Jesus could keep him from sinking, he wouldn't have stepped out of a boat to the water in the first place. Would you? There was wind and there were waves. It's easy to ignore how hard it must have been for people in the bible to do the things they did since God was so manifest in their days, but I mean, even after meeting Jesus and seeing him perform miracles (such as feeding thousands, as earlier in this chapter), it'd be hard to just leap out of a boat during a storm and expect to walk on the water.

As Peter saw himself doing the unthinkable, he probably became afraid of how irrational it was to walk on water, and how the very laws of physics that govern all of creation are being suspended. The seemingly little thread that was keeping him from sinking became all too real to him, and he began to sink. Jesus didn't have to let him sink when he doubted, but the point was made: he is trustworthy. When we doubt him, we are bound to suffer and fail. He doesn't entrust wishy-washy people with great tasks that result in great feats of God. But believing the Lord in times of risk, when we leave our comfort zones (as Baptists looooove to put it), gives us the chance to learn to trust him, and we are rewarded with great faith when we see the results of this moment of surrender: I could never do this alone, but with you, I can.

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

This is Sunday School 101, but, as Martin Luther rightly taught, the Christian life is characterized by continuing repentance and faith; we must examine ourselves constantly, as we are still human beings and are still governed by whims, doubt, worry, and selfishness. And we may remember things in our minds but forget that they are true, and live with that assurance to compel us to greater things.

Little kids at church know the story of Peter walking on water. But do grown-ups at church live like this is true?

I don't want to wait until I'm 40, warming a pew, content with my little life and all my financial security and square middle class family matters, to find out. Throw this woman out of the frying pan and into the fire.While it is up to me to pray, read, and learn before I undertake anything for the kingdom of God, it is not up to me to be ready and to produce these vast results. I am not a savior, and I am not a creator of wisdom to impart unto others. Therefore, doing what I can and leaving the rest up to God is all that matters.

I am only responsible for taking my foot off the deck and touching it to the water.

1 comment:

  1. this is good. lareesha, you will do great things in Bosnia. God uses the humble and seemingly 'small' people like David, to conquer giants, and Moses, to lead His people. you are just like them! thanks for this encouragement, and i love you, friend!!