Stop the Sink
I could take the time to write some profound opening about how I don’t like to admit when I’m wrong, but honestly, I don’t see much of a point. I’m fairly confident that this is not just a ‘me’ thing. I mean come on, who likes being wrong…especially when people are watching?
Because I skipped out on the opening bit, I will take a minute to fangirl over Peter. I stinking love Peter! While Paul’s wordy run-on sentences strike a chord with my heart, Peter still wins out in the “I can totally see myself in that one” category. He comes across as impulsive and passionate and like he didn’t always think before he spoke. He’s so wonderfully human.
That’s one of the most beautiful things about scripture to me—God doesn’t smooth over His people’s flaws. Which helps me to have more grace for myself about my own.
Peter has so many highlights, both of great faith and great failure, hence the wonderful humanity that he exemplifies, but the one that I’ve been meditating on recently is when he walks on water.
A few years back while I was studying the gospels side by side I noticed something that forever changed my understanding of this story. Here’s the overview: Jesus told his disciples to get in the boat and head for Bethsaida but they didn’t, they waited for Jesus on the shore until it got dark, and then headed to Capernaum instead. (Don’t believe me? You can cross-reference it for yourself: Mat 14:22-34; Mrk 6:45-53; Jhn 6:16-21)
Does that mean that if they would have obeyed they would have missed the storm? I don’t know, maybe, though the text does not explicitly say one way or the other. It doesn’t say a lot of things. It doesn’t say how long they waited or why they decided to head in another direction. What we do know is this: Jesus instructed them to do one thing and they instead did something different and then found themselves smack in the middle of a storm. (See how completely and utterly human these men were?)
That’s the kind of day that Peter was having when Jesus showed up on the scene. So we pick up the story here, with a bunch of scared, disobedient disciples and Peter being all Peter-y and jumping out of the boat onto the water. I once heard a pastor say that Peter was in the wrong to leave the rest of the disciples in the boat and shouldn’t have abandoned them there. That just sounds weird! Someone always has to go first so that others see what is possible. Peter was that person. He jumped out and everyone was watching him intently, seeing what would happen.
He does good for a while, doing the impossible, but then he begins to sink. The important idea here is that he begins to sink. Had the hand of God suddenly been removed he would not have begun to sink, he would have instantly sunk. There is no slow fade when it comes to water tension.
Let’s take a minute to visualize this, everyone is watching Peter do the impossible—this great act of faith. But he gets distracted and starts to sink. Here is the pivotal moment: Peter did not try to muster up the faith to get his feet above the water again. No! He shouts out, “Save me, Lord!”, even though everyone is watching—even though he just took this great risk. He isn’t concerned about saving face. He recognized that he needed Jesus to save his life!
Sometimes I fall for the lie that because I caused (insert calamity here) I should be the one to fix it. So often I get distracted by the storms and find myself sinking but instead of crying out to Jesus…instead of admitting my mistake…I try to rectify the situation on my own.
Maybe I’m the only one, but I doubt that, this feels all too human for that. So let’s call it what it is—spiritual pride—and deal with it already. Humbling ourselves is never comfortable but it is supremely necessary to stop the sink and get the help that we require. Peter didn’t care who was looking. It’s time that we don’t either. Maybe, just maybe those people who are watching us are the ones that need to see us be vulnerable, be all too human, so they can know how to handle their own sinking feet. Maybe they will learn more from our failure than they ever could with us pretending to be awesome all the time.
So I will bite the bullet and go first: Recently I became distracted by the swirl around Jesus, our renovation, and all of the other things that I piled up on my plate and I began to sink.
“In panic I cried out, “I am cut off from the Lord!” But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help.”
- Psalm 31:22 NLT
I’m going to level with you, I didn’t want to write about this today. Who wants to read a blog from someone who doesn’t have their stuff together? But then in my Bible reading this morning I read this verse and I knew that I needed to, if not for you then for me. This is my cry out to a God that I know is listening and if nothing else I hope that it will inspire you to voice your own if the time comes.
Of course, I encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus and not sink in the first place, but seeing how easy it is to get distracted by all of the things that matter less I implore you, beloved, to cry out. Maybe not here but maybe not just in private either. Maybe it's time to kill the pride that keeps drawing you away because maybe there are those who need to see just how human you can be too. Today’s the day to stop the sink!
Written by Amanda Strauser