Have you ever had days where you’ve had a deep personal connection with Jesus? You began your worship with a struggle and in that time, God brought conviction, repentance and connection? You then rose up with Victory in your heart? That day you walked on water, so to speak. You were led by the Spirit, were sensitive to His bidding’s and did not give in to temptations. Your life reflected your surrender and your trust in Jesus, not trust in yourself. It was a day where you knew that it was not I that lived but Christ Who lived in me. It was a day of rejoicing!
I’ve had days like that, sometimes strung together in a series, sometimes only one day at a time.
But…it’s the sinking that concerns me….
Just as surely as stepping out on to the water is impossible in my own strength, so too is the continued walking on water. The elation and confidence of achieving the impossible is significant.
But…it’s the sinking that concerns me…
Interestingly enough, Jesus bids us to come walk with Him – on water, in the desert, through the valley….wherever. When we trust Him, we go!
But…it’s the sinking that concerns me…
Jesus promises to be with us, to walk with us, to hear us, to answer us, to abide in us.
But…it’s the sinking that concerns me…
and it’s the sinking that overtakes me…every…time.
Let me be completely honest here. I am not foolish enough to think for a moment that I can do this walk with Jesus on my own. I have learned about Christ Our Righteousness. I believe that Christ in me is able to live. I believe that I can, by faith, take up the Cross and follow Him. And don’t for a moment think I haven’t cried “Lord, Save me” numerous times. Many times I notice that Jesus responds immediately and other times, I don’t notice His rescue at all!!
I’m finding out though, that most often, sinking happens quickly. Before you can say “jiminy cricket”, you are sinking fast! Reactions to it vary however. In my life, sometimes I’m so surprised at sinking that I start splashing around, attempting to breathe, attempting to swim, struggling harder and harder to stay alive and to stay above water. Then after near exhaustion, remembering to cry “Lord, Save me”. At other times I am under water in a blink of the eye. I am unable to breathe. I am dying in faith, in hope, in trust and all I can do in desperation is reach up my hand.
There are other times however, that sinking happens slowing – a miracle in itself really. First, the ankles, then the knees, then the chest…and soon the head. Those times are times of delusion as I accept each stage as part of the experience.. After all we can’t always be on top, can we?
The truth of the matter is that sinking does not have to be part of the experience. We are given the story of Peter to show us two things. First, is Jesus’s ability to walk on water and His ability to enable us to. Second, that with Jesus we can walk on water, without Him we cannot. Any underwater experience is not His choice for us. However, because of His foreknowledge of us, He has taken training in Life Guarding! So, if sinking isn’t supposed to part of the experience, why do we sink?
We all have heard/read/realized that Peter’s eyes were on himself, his friends, the waves, or the boat jostling in the mighty sea. We are told that because Peter’s eyes weren’t affixed on Jesus is why he sank.
In my personal journey, my sinking days usually began the same way as my walking on water days, with personal worship and prayer. Could there possibly be a reason that sinking is a part of the equation way too frequently? Is there something I am missing?
Do I have fear? When I think of Peter leaving the boat and stepping out on the water, I can imagine that he was not only excited, anticipatory of doing something no-one else had done (other than Jesus), but I think there was a mix of fear involved too. Have you not been called by God to do something, and you know He is able to perform His will in you..but fear still accompanies your forward motion? So yes, I think there was fear tinged in the multitude of emotions Peter was feeling at that moment. But he stepped out anyway.
Fear may be a reason for sinking….
Do I have faith? Yes, Peter trusted in Jesus and His abilities. Peter knew that if Jesus told him to come, then Jesus would enable him to walk. Peter’s trust/faith blossomed at that moment to go from being in the boat to slipping over the side of the boat, feeling the water under his feet and then both feet standing. Oh the incredible amazingness of it all. Can you imagine? Maybe you have seen and been part of a greater experience that was in NO WAY part of you, and you knew it. Peter did not have a “full-time” trust/faith in Jesus however, as the gospel records. Peter’s faith was not so complete that he never failed after this water experience. In fact, moments later we are told that self satisfaction, unbelief and self exultation made him sink. What he began in the Spirit…he finished in the flesh.
Lack of faith in Jesus and too much faith in “me” may be a reason for sinking…. Am I dependent on Jesus?
Death was imminent and the realization he had no hope, no ability to save himself, he cried out “Lord Save me” We envision Peter holding up desperate hands to the One who not only created the water, could command water to turn into wine, could make the water calm, but could walk on it as well. Let’s give Peter kudos for reaching out hands first instead of trying to swim first. Peter knew where his hope lie. In that cry that Peter cried, Jesus heard this soul’s need. I am hopeless, helpless, heartless…save me. And Jesus did…
Lack of dependence may be a reason for sinking….
NONE of the above criteria however, fearfulness, or too much self trust, lack of faith and lack of dependence on Jesus, prevented Jesus from doing the work that He ultimately came to do…Save us. Yes, it was reasons for sinking, but not for dying.
Jesus just as surely reached down to pull up a desperate, fearful, faithless soul from the grips of death and failure.
I believe with all my heart that Jesus’s reach went as far as it needed to go to save Peter. That Jesus’s strength to pull Peter up from the water was as strong as it needed to be. That Jesus’s compassionate love was fully unconditional. That Jesus never lost sight of Peter even though Peter lost sight of Him.
The moment of sinking was the moment of surrender, humility and self distrust. These moments Jesus uses to take the opportunity to rescue us so we can learn to have that trust, faith, belief, and surrender in Him. It removes our own “self” from the picture. We see His love for us and gives us a desire to know Him. It helps us refocus from ourselves to focusing on Jesus. Though sinking is not the goal, sinking is allowed to bring us to the goal of submission and trust so that we will desire nothing else but to continually hold on the the hand of Jesus.
Does Jesus ever try to rescue us before we sink?
I believe the answer is Yes!
If Peter was walking on the water and he had not glanced at his companions in self exultation and satisfaction, but a wave had disconnected his gaze on Jesus, would not Jesus have spoken a Word through the wave to keep Peter focused? Or would Jesus not have commanded the wave not to interrupt the focus in the first place? Jesus had a foreknowledge of what would happen to Peter. Jesus knew Peter’s vulnerabilities. Jesus knew that this experience would bring Peter to a humble surrender…of which He desires for us all.
I wonder, if Peter had not asked, would Jesus have called Peter to walk on water? I think Jesus would have preferred to do some “dry land training” instead, but is willing to work with our own ambitions and desires.
Sometimes I think we also sink because we are just not where we are supposed to be. We want to be somewhere, doing something, taking opportunities because they look exciting and expect Jesus to help us, hear us, guide us. We later discover that the whole adventure was our own will not the will of God and in the sinking experiences usually that follows, we find our lessons.
I believe that Jesus loves us enough to train us wherever, but His ultimate goal is the less traumatic dryland training rather that underwater experiences. No matter where we are, in a storm that could’ve been avoided by obedience, on water precariously standing on pride, in a boat laden with fear, no matter where, Jesus comes to us. His timing is ultimately when it will teach us the most.
But He does come. He knows at this point we have lost focus. He knows we can’t see for looking. He knows we can’t stand or walk for that matter. He knows….and because of our weakness He comes. Just as surely as putting out your hands is instinctive when you are falling, so too is Jesus’s hands of love instinctive to save. He can’t help Himself.
So today as I am asking Jesus if I may come to Him as I am, and when He says to me “come”….
-I trust that He is holding my hand and that I must not let go.
-He is keeping His eyes on me – I must not disconnect from His focus
-He directs my path – I surrender and He wills me to do according to His good pleasure
-He helps me recognize my own inabilities – so that I depend on His abilities
He is ALL
Dear Jesus Take this heart of mine and make it Yours. I cannot hold on, walk on, carry on without You. My focus gets distorted so quickly.
Take it all Oh Jesus and be ALL in me is my prayer. Amen
Songs: Lord Jesus I long to be perfectly whole
Love Lifted Me
By Orti J. Weich