The purpose of a faucet is to dispense water; the purpose of a Christian is to dispense living water. (John 7:38) Sometimes, however, we become distracted by the dispensing and forget about simply believing. At that point we become Drippy-Faucet Christians.
God's word to us is "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Notice the two parts of this statement: we must (1) lay down our busyness and insecurity and (2) accept God's identity. When these two halves meet, we are able to enter a beautiful place of rest.
In Matthew 14:22-33 we find the story of Peter walking (or rather attempting to walk) on the water. Jesus reveals himself to the disciples, but Peter is skeptical, and challenges Jesus: "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." Jesus answers, "Come." So Peter steps out of the boat, and actually takes a few steps before he begins to sink.
At this juncture, if we're not paying attention, we will miss the whole point of the story. The issue here is not about acheiving supernatural buoyancy - it's about recognizing Jesus for who He is.
You see, walking on the water was Peter's idea, not Jesus's. And it was rooted in a fundamental inability (or unwillingness) to recognize who Jesus is ("Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you..."). Sometimes Jesus looks strange - we have to get used to that. Just when we think we've got Him figured, He shows up walking across the sea in the middle of the night looking like a ghost. (My Utmost For His Highest, March 15)
Oftentimes, what appears to be courageous spirituality may only be a thin veneer for unbelief. This kind of "faith" leads to fleeces, not fruit, and, as Peter found out, it's easy to get in over your head. When Peter begins to sink, Jesus is there to lift him up, asking gently, perhaps somewhat mystified, "Why did you doubt?"
I'd venture to suggest God allowed Peter to sink because He didn't want Peter's faith to be based on his ability to do fancy spiritual stuff. Our faith is to be based on who Jesus is, and nothing else. God may call us to do hard things, but just because something is hard does not mean that God is in it. Doing hard things doesn't make you a Christian any more than throwing sawdust makes you a carpenter.
A lot of us want to do great things for God. This is natural and healthy, provided it remains in it's proper place. Many times, however, we never stop to ask the question: what is it that God calls us to do?
That's it. Just believe. No heavenly visions, no epic feats of spirituality. Are we willing to be still and acknowledge God, or do we become angry like Naaman and complain "Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper?"
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”(John 6:28-29)
We're all familiar with the story of Mary and Martha, and we know what Jesus said to Martha, as she was "selflessly" working herself into the ground for God: "One thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part." Many times, we would rather busy ourselves with spiritual activity than simply sit at the feet of Jesus and find rest in who He is.
When we are young a hurricane or thunderstorm impresses us as being very powerful, yet the strength of a rock is infinitely greater than that of a hurricane. The same is true with regard to discipleship. The strength there is not the strength of activity but the strength of living. Activity may be a disease of weariness, or of degeneration; to be dependable means to be strong in the sense of disciplined reliability.*
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples again, this time on the shore. (John 21:4-8) After He tells them where to put their net in order to catch fish, John figures out what's going on and exclaims, "It is the Lord!"
What happens next reveals an entirely different Peter - a Peter who is less concerned about being a spiritual superhero and who just wants to be with Jesus.
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.That's it. No fuss, no fanfare, no clever spiritual acrobatics. All Peter can think about is how to get to where Jesus is as quickly as possible, which for the moment means taking a swim.
The important thing is that it's the Lord. How we get to shore is secondary.
*Oswald Chambers, Approved Unto God, (The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 2000), 40
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