I'm Sinking...Now What?

going under
going under

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.In God, whose word I praise,In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid... Psalm 56:3-4 NASB

Life is scary!

And as we move further and further into adulthood...and even on into old age, there's more to frighten us and cause us to panic*.

How do we handle these terrors of life -- whether they be greater (like death, disease, crises with loved ones,...) or lesser (like speaking in front of a group, doing something totally new, daily mothering,...)?

By faith!

The righteous will live by faith.  Romans 1:17d

Last week we looked talked about faith as responding to the Lord's gracious COME.  Jesus' zealous disciple Peter gives us a good example of what we present-day disciples go through in our faith-walk.  Look again at this familiar story in your Bible or click here: Matthew 14: 22 - 33.

Did you think about the questions from our last study?  Here they are again with some further thoughts for your meditation and reflection.  (I'd love to hear yours if you care to share in the comments below :)  ):

Jesus walking on the water
Jesus walking on the water

1.  Why didn’t Peter just jump out of the boat?  Why did he ask Jesus to command him “Come to Him”? (vs 27-29a)

*WHO HE IS: Peter needed to know that it was really the Lord.  When Jesus identified Himself, He said, "It is I."  Literally this is, "I AM," ego eimi.  Does this sound familiar...how about Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3?  How about Jesus' confrontation with the Pharisees in John 8? We too need to see Him for who He truly is...the GOD-Man, who walks with us on the chaos of our lives, don't we?  It can make all the difference in the world!

*WHAT HE WANTS: Perhaps Peter also wanted to know if it was Jesus' will for him to walk to Him. And isn't that true of us too.  We need to know that it's really the LORD calling us out "onto the waves"...that He's "in it" for us!

*WHAT PETER REALLY NEEDS: In a very real sense, Peter needed Jesus' call, His COME in order to be able to come. Without Jesus' call, none of us could come.  We wouldn't even want to!  Romans 3:10-11; Phil 2:13; John 6:44-45,65

This leads us to...

Truth #1 = God is always prevenient.

Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man.

Before a sinful man can think a right thought of God, there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him; imperfect it may be, but a true work nonetheless, and the secret cause of all desiring and seeking and praying which may follow.

We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. "No man can come to me," said our Lord, "except the Father which hath sent me draw him," and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the out working of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: "Thy right hand upholdeth me." AW Tozer, Pursuit of God

drawing...jesus and disciples
drawing...jesus and disciples

2. What decision did Peter face once he heard Jesus' come?  Do we face the same decision at times? (vs 29)

Peter needed to decide whether to go ahead and get out of the boat or play it safe, didn't he?  He needed to "believe and obey," as we would say in "spiritual talk." And believing and obeying are flip sides of the same coin, so to speak. (John 3:36; Jas 2:18; Heb 4:3-6 NASB)

So the God-Man Jesus also invites us to walk with Him...into new things (open doors, if you will), like the way my the Lord gave me my ESL teaching job 8 years ago.  Or it may be through dark, terrorizing things, like my then 20 year old son's cancer.

And that leads us to...

Truth #2 = With His invitation comes His enablement.

Paul says it well: I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].  Phil 4:13 AMP

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  1Cor 12:9-10 NIV

drawing Jesus & peter
drawing Jesus & peter

3. What ultimately happened to Peter and why?  What did he do in the midst of his dilemma?  How readily do we do the same in the midst of our doubt and fear? (vs 30-31a)

Of course, Peter began to sink.  Why?  Because he turned his focus to the tumultuous waves and wind all around him.  He had taken his eyes off of the stable, all-powerful Lord in front of him. And isn't that what we do also?  We may start out well, fixing our eyes on Jesus.  But then, when we realize "all hell is breaking loose" in &/or around us, we get our eyes off of HIM...and we begin to go down!

That leads us to...

Truth #3 = We become like what / who we focus on.

I love these verses:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. ...the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  2Cor 3:18; 4:6

Then all-too-human (and that's why we love him!) Peter, in his desperation, did what we all must do...he cried out to His Savior!

You wonder what to do when you feel attacked on all sides by seemingly irresistible forces, waves that cover you and want to sweep you off your feet.  sometimes these waves consist of feeling rejected, feeling forgotten, feeling misunderstood.  sometimes they consist of self-pity and self-rejection.  These waves make you feel like a powerless child abandoned by your parents.

What are you to do?  Make the conscious choice to move the attention of your anxious heart away from the waves and direct it to the One who walks on them and says, "It's me.  Don't be afraid!" (Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20).  Keep turning your eyes to him and go on trusting that he will bring peace to your heart.

Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

4. What did Peter learn as a result of the storm? (vs 31-33)

That Jesus is the SON of GOD!  That He is all powerful...that He is sovereign over the forces of nature...that He cares...that He challenges...that He responds to our cries...that He walks with us on the chaos of our lives!

So we can know along with Peter...

Truth #4 = Every storm of life is Christ’s invitation to come to Him and see Who He is & how all-sufficient He is in every situation.

Not long after this storm incident, Peter made this wonderful profession.  And we do too, when we walk with the Lord through trials and into new things...

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”  John 6:68-69

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Consider the following for prayer and your journal:

1. Are you in circumstances right now where you know if you take your eyes off the Lord for even a split second, you’ll go “under”? Ask the Holy Spirit to fix your eyes firmly on Him who “walks with you on the chaos of your life.”

2. What is your focus as you go through your day? Do your emotions follow along the same line as your focus? Do you believe it’s true that “we become like what we focus on”? Pray about your need in this area.

3. Is the Lord asking you to take a step out of the comfort-zone of your life into a new thing? Can you trust that with His call (“invitation”) comes His enablement? Pray…”Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

*Click to read about how the Lord delivered me from panic attacks.

Coming Soon: After Father's Day...the rest of the story:  The Mystery of PRAYER...Inviting Jesus into my "Boat"

Getting out of the Boat {a.k.a. Comfort Zone}

Jesus walking on the water
Jesus walking on the water

Jesus walks with us on the chaos of our lives.  Oswald ChambersLast time we talked about what faith really is.  One tender (and biblical) thought is that faith is responding to Jesus' COME...His grace-filled invitation.

Often times, coming to Jesus when the storms of life are raging is the last thing we do.  That is, until all else has failed.

We rather go to friends, addictions (like social media, exercise, food), withdrawal, and one of my personal favorites, Christian self-help books.  All of these feel comfortable (and "safe") to us...at least for the time.  But eventually, we realize we need HIM!

Or sometimes the Lord may be calling us to something new and scarey.  Maybe a new job, a new home, a new stage of life, a new challenge.  We avoid the issue for as long as we can -- it's too uncomfortable and risky!  But if we want to grow, eventually we must get "out of our boat" and come to Him.  And that's faith.

That's what Peter did in the familiar and captivating story in Matthew 14 (Other parts of the story are in John 6 and Mark 6).  Let's pick up the story...

Jesus reaching out to Peter
Jesus reaching out to Peter

22 Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. 24 But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." 28 Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." 29 And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, " O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!" Matthew 14: 27 - 33

Here are some questions to explore as you read through this passage.  Next time we'll share some thoughts about these questions:

1.  Why didn’t Peter just jump out of the boat?  Why did he ask Jesus to command him “Come to Him”? (vs 27-29a)

2.  What decision did Peter face once he heard Jesus' come?  Do we face the same decision at times? (vs 29)

3.  What ultimately happened to Peter and why?  What did he do in the midst of his dilemma?  How readily do we do the same in the midst of our doubt and fear? (vs 30-31a)

4.  What did Peter learn as a result of the storm? (vs 31-33)

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PART THE WATERS/ I NEED THEE Selah

When I think I'm going under, part the waters, Lord When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea When I cry for help, oh, hear meLord and hold out Your hand Touch my life Still the raging storm in me

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord No tender voice like Thine can peace afford I need Thee, O I need Thee Every hour I need Thee O bless me now, my Savior I come to Thee

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain Come quickly and abide, or life is vain