Matthew chapter 14 tells us the story of Peter walking on water. In verses 29-30, the scripture tells us, “29 Jesus said, ‘Come!’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed how strong the wind was, he became afraid and started to sink. He shouted, ‘Lord, save me!’” (GW) In the beginning, Peter had great courage as verse 29 says, “Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.” (MSG) When first called, Peter was strong. Without hesitation, he left his place of security to do what he was called to do. But the conditions he found himself in (the rough seas and high winds) made him doubt that he could do the very thing he was already doing. He then lost his nerve and began to sink.
Peter’s experience is very similar to many of ours. We begin exploring our calling with great intentions and strong convictions. We then let fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) get a grip on us and cause us to do less than we are capable of or called to do. We allow anxiety and uncertainty to destroy the promise God has given. One could question how different things would have been if Peter had beaten back the flame of fear with the fan of faith. There is no need to ask what if because Peter was not much different from us.
This weekend, I had the privilege of attending a professional baseball game and watching a team that has made the playoffs. I was extremely fortunate to have received the scarce and in-demand tickets as a gift. I did not pay attention to the section or seat numbers on the tickets when I received them. My offspring and I enthusiastically entered the stadium, glanced at the seat numbers, and realized they were in an area we had not ever paid attention to. We found our way around to the other side and settled into our seats in the sold out stadium. I then went and stood in long lines for food and beverages. I wasn’t able to return to my seat until the bottom of the second inning. Agitated and sulking, I was resolved not to move again.
For those around me, the excitement of the post season prospects created a vim and vigor as well as a corresponding static electricity in the air. The positive energy was accompanied by the enhanced acoustics of the crowd’s continuous roar. I realized that part of my anxiety was because I was with a larger, louder crowd, in a more confined space. I was not in a VIP section, on the lower level behind home plate or along the third base line. I was up high, under the scoreboard, facing the sun, directly in front of a bar filled with game-goers with libation-induced lowered inhibitions. I realized I was with the general population.
Christ died on the cross so that the general population, not just the high priests, could have access to the Father. His ransom for our salvation extended God’s grace to everyone and ended the need for sacrificial offerings. His redemptive death was the great access equalizer and Holier than Thou eliminator. Those who had more or could do more did not have a place closer to the Father. Everyone’s access point to God is now the same, through the Son. All people now have the same requirement – to take up your cross daily and follow Him, starting strong and finishing hard.
On the morning of the game, I spent time with God, praying and listening to Him. I left the house feeling strong and full of faith. Like Peter, I leaped out there to do what I was called to do. Likewise, I got distracted by an unfamiliar environment and became anxious because it felt different. For two innings I was unable to be His positive energy or enjoy the privilege He bestowed upon me. He was patient with me during that time. But suddenly, in the sweet voice that is only His, Jesus said, “Hello! I sent you here to be my light, yet in this moment you are a dim bulb. Ditch the funk and let’s get back to My business. I want you to be that curious, outgoing, fun-loving child I designed you to be. Move about the people, smiling at them and talking to them, bringing them My joy. Games are play time and social events that allow you to be My ambassador. I got you free tickets. Now make them worth your while.”
I bowed my head in thanksgiving and then got up to refill my child’s empty drink cup. While in line, I had the chance to hold an infant for a father who was struggling to tie shoes and place orders for his other three boys who were all under 5 years of age. As the crowd roared because the home team scored, I sang into the infant’s ear: “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder; you get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger. May you never take one single breath for granted; GOD forbid love ever leaves you empty handed. I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens. Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance….I hope you dance. I Hope You Dance – Gladys Knight
After returning to my seat, reflecting on Peter’s experience, and Jesus’ message to me, I realized this:
- Heaven has no VIP section
- Access to Him is not limited to affluence
- On earth as it is in heaven, He loves all of His children the same
- General population is where faith is built, the gospel is preached, and souls are saved
- There is no space for exclusion in His kingdom
- His followers are not fans cheering from the stands. They are fearlessly on the field every day.
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance; never settle for the path of least resistance. Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’. Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’. Don’t let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter. When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider. Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance….I hope you dance.
Remain strong. Answer your calling without hesitation. Circumstances may change but the love of The Lord remains the same. What fear is causing you to sink today? Are you walking faithfully towards Jesus? What earthly things are causing exclusivity in your life? Does the general population of His lost children make you nervous? Recapture the fearless faith of your first calling. Reach higher, go farther, and dig deeper to plant seeds, fertilize ground, and collect the harvest that he has placed you here for. Your passion and resilience are powerful and compelling to those who are seeking the love of our Lord.
30 But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink (MSG). Be audacious and daring, especially among the masses. Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along. Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone. I hope you dance….I hope you dance.