When I was kid I didn’t take a lot of risks. I liked to see how things were going to go before I would take the first step. I was very deliberate. I was an older teenager before I even jumped off a diving board into a pool. I liked my feet on the ground and my head above my shoulders. Trampolines were fun, but I never tried anything new or used my new found gravity defiance as permission to try things I deemed “too risky.” One weekend my family was traveling and we stayed at a hotel with a pool (which, as a child, was really the only thing my sister and I cared about). She was much more comfortable in the water than I was, she would go under the water without plugging her nose and everything. I was a floaty wearing, nose plug, goggles on gladiator of the shallow end. I swam fine. When the floaties came off, that was about as risky as I would get.
One night while swimming, my dad and sister are in the pool and I’m hanging out on the edge. My dad says, “Jump in. I’ll catch you.” I thought, “Of course not. That’s ridiculous. What if he drops me?” It was a childish thought to be sure because he was asking me to jump into the end where I could easily touch the bottom anyway. But the thought of leaving my feet and ending up the water without using the steps was just a little more than terrifying. “Andy, I promise I won’t let you drop. I will catch you.” As I type this I can still hear his voice from that day and see his outstretched arms as if to offer reassurance that he indeed had the ability to catch me.
I bobbled back and forth a little bit. Swaying towards the pool and away from it as if to wind up into the jump. I took one step and launched myself off the edge just hoping, trusting that my dad was as capable as he assured me he was. I landed in my dads arms, he let me splash in the water a bit to give me that rush of what it feels like to jump in a pool and feel that cold rush of water and the adrenaline all kids seem to just giggle over. I remember thinking, “I’m so glad he caught me.” But I never really doubted he would. I thought maybe he would pull back a bit and then just make sure my head didn’t go under but even then I knew, ultimately I was safe. “Jumping into pools is fun,” was my next thought and slowly but surely I gained the courage it took to jump without anyone there to catch me. Seems like a silly story, but fear and risk make silly things seem like not-so-silly things don’t they? A phone call can be a terrifying thing if you’re afraid of who may (or may not) pick up on the other end. Or what they might say if they do pick up. A meeting with a boss or employee can be scary if you have no precedent or have to deliver or receive bad news.
A meeting is just a meeting, until fear and risk are thrown in. Then that meeting can become something more. A game changer, a benchmark, a stepping stone. Either way, risk and fear make things something else entirely. Peter knows this, he had gotten out of boats a thousand times. He was an experienced fisherman and sailor. But as an experienced sailor, I’m willing to bet he had never gotten out of the boat in the middle of the sea during a storm of epic proportions. In Matthew 14 we see the story of the disciples caught in the middle of a storm. It is taking all of their strength and experience just to keep the boat from capsizing. They are miles out to sea and there is no way they can get to shore in the middle of this storm. The best they can hope for is to ride it out and survive. It’s the middle of the night and Jesus stayed back on the shore to pray.
In the middle of their struggle, they see a figure walking on the water. They are terrified and think it’s a ghost. When he reassures them he is Jesus Peter gets bold. “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water,” (Matthew 14:28) Jesus responded by simply saying, “Come.” Then Peter does the impossible. He throws his legs over the edge of a boat in the middle of the night, in the middle of the sea, in the middle of a storm! But he doesn’t sink. Can you imagine what that must have been like for Peter, for the other disciples still in the boat? When you put your feet on water and push, you don’t stand up… you’re feet go under water. That’s what happens. But Jesus changes things. He makes the impossible possible. But you have to get out of the boat first. There is a different between risk and foolish. The different is obedience. If God is calling you to take a big risk, it is not foolish to obey. As a matter of fact it would be foolish to stay on the boat. If God is calling you to do something, He always provides the means to accomplish it. It takes work on your end, it takes risk, it is scary but hey… if you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.
Maybe this applies to your job, marriage, kids, finances, church work or somewhere in between. But I hope you’ll listen for the voice of God in your life and ask yourself where He is challenging you to take some risks and you’ll have the courage to jump into His open arms. He’s got you. He’s capable and as long as you keep your eyes on Him. Peter started to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus. His circumstances overwhelmed in. Stay focused on Jesus. It doesn’t make the storm go away, but it gives you the power to overcome it. Be blessed as you take a risk this month!