The other day I took the girls to a nearby park with an adjacent pool. Wanting to show Kiara the little kids taking swim lessons, we walked up toward the fence. Immediately the smell of chlorine and floating plastic lane lines transported me to Merced summers as a little girl in Tiny Tots. And the end of the swim sessions always ended with the same daunting adventure– the chance to jump off of the high dive.
Encouraged by my instructor, I would hop out of the pool, the hot concrete stinging the bottom of my prune-like feet as I made my way down toward the deep end. One-by-one the Tiny Tots would ascend. My turn. Up the faded blue steps, gripping the metal handrail for dear life. To the top. The air is so much cooler a whopping 10 feet off of ground level, a shiver sent through my bony little body as I look down at the instructor, ant-like, below. I am Felix. One step, then two, to the middle of the board. Exposed, being watched, and being waited on becomes too much to handle. “Jump!” the instructor urges. I look around, down and behind me, and decide that it just isn’t worth the risk. I turn around, and with tail between legs, begin the descent. Others behind me step down as well; my doubt shaking their confidence. Back to the burning concrete.
“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?”
Like Peter, many of us begin our calling with strong faith in the Holy Spirit to accomplish what He desires in us. A fresh overflow of the Spirit sometimes leads us to do things that we wouldn’t have normally considered possible or even had a desire to do. I am Peter. Perhaps you are, too.
Upon catching a glimpse of the Lord, we can clamor to the edge of the boat calling out, “Lord! Is that you? Is it you, Lord? Out there?” Flushed with faith and wonder at the sight of Him, enamored with the reality of His reality, we crazily call out, “Me too, Lord! I want to do what you’re doing! Lead me out! Draw me nearer!” Unfazed by the laws of physics and the workings of nature, Jesus gladly invites us. “Come.” Of course we know that nothing is impossible with our Lord, but we aren’t even thinking about that at this point. Our eyes are so transfixed on our Savior that nothing else matters. No contrary thought even crosses our minds.
And then, the wind hits.
A whisper from the east gently blows against your cheek as it cunningly asks “who are YOU?” Confused, you break eye contact and turn your head. “What did you say? Who was that?” And before you know it, your socks are suddenly soggy as you frantically search for the eyes of the one who called you. Oh YOU of little faith.
What happened? Why the disconnect?
As believers, we can count on periods of intense calling. Those times when Christ is almost visible to us, when His reality is our reality. Excited and emboldened by the gift of seeing His purpose, we move quickly in faith toward our shepherd calling “Come.”
Also, we can count on the wind. Contrary to pop-evangelicalism, following our shepherd is not equal to smooth seas. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
The disconnect happens in that 3-letter word. YOU.
Me. Us. We.
We begin to sink as we rest in our own ability to calm the storms. Or as we stop in the middle and say “hey look at me! I’m walking on water!” Nothing breaks our gaze faster than when we start thinking about ourselves. Self is the detriment to finishing well.
Jodi was called home to Jesus this week. Never in my life have I been so inspired by the faith of another. Seeing her illness as the means by which God would be glorified in her, Jodi fixed her eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of her faith. She unswervingly witnessed to His sufficient grace for her, and with supernatural joy endured the unspeakable with a determined smile. One-by-one the stories have poured in about Jodi’s selflessness and regard for others above herself. Jodi finished well.
In Jodi’s honor, I climb on. Though the height of my board may not be as tall as hers, I hope to faithfully stay in lockstep with my instructor. May He be glorified as we clamor to the edge, racing toward Him with infatuated hearts.
Renew me, Lord. Fall on me afresh. Pour all of me out as I testify that any good thing in me is not from me at all. Every good and perfect gift comes from you and is for you.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)