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If you want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat

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In the Bible, repeatedly, people experience an encounter with God that leads them into a different way of life. This pattern occurs over and over. God appears and makes a call on an ordinary person. He calls Abraham or he calls Moses or he calls David. And then, almost always, the person is quite afraid of what God is asking him to do. So God issues a promise. God says I’ll do it if you won’t be afraid. And then the person must make a decision.

Sometimes people say yes to God. And their world is never quite the same. Sometimes people say no. The rich young ruler said no, he would not sell all that he had and follow Jesus with wild abandon. He never entered the adventure of a risky faith with God.

Almost five years ago --- Ecuador story…

My favorite example is the story about Peter and his friends in the boat one night. It’s a very dark and stormy night, and Jesus walks towards them on the water.

Mathew 14: 22 -33

22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
29"Come," he said.
30Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

Peter says, “If it’s you, Lord, bid me to come.”

And Jesus says, “All right Peter, come.”

The rest of the disciples watch carefully because Peter used to shoot his mouth off, and they want to know if he’s going to follow through on this deal. He puts one foot over the side of the boat and then the other. Then he lets go. And for the first time in human history, ordinary man is borne up on the water. It’s a remarkable story.

Peter experiences God enabling him to do what he could never do on his own—to walk on the water.

But of course, Peter’s faith gives out. He doesn’t look at Jesus and he sinks.

Did Peter fail?

I think he did—at least in one significant way. He took his eyes off Jesus. His faith wavered and he sank.

He wasn't the only failure that night….

I think there were eleven bigger failures sitting back in the boat. They failed quietly. Their failure went unobserved and uncriticized.

Also, Peter experienced a few things they didn’t

Only Peter knew the glory of walking on the water.

When people walk on the water, when people trust God and experience God’s power enabling them to do what they couldn’t do otherwise, I think it marks them. I think Peter carried that memory of water walking to his grave. And another thing—only Peter knew that when he sank, Jesus would be there, and he was wholly adequate to save.

The other disciples could not know that because they never got out of the boat. This is the fundamental truth: If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat. If you want to experience the power of God in your life, you’ve got to take a step of faith.

It involves risky obedience.

When we learn to discern the calling of God in our lives and respond with yes and get out of the boat, we really do experience God’s power in our lives.

What keeps us from getting out of the boat.

Fear keeps us from fully trusting God and experiencing what God wants us to do.

Another thing that keeps us from getting out of the boat is comfort.

Karl Barth said that comfort is one of the primary appeals—even in faith.

Well, the eleven other disciples were kind of boat potatoes. They were willing to follow Jesus, but they wanted him to comfort them in the midst of the storm. And the storm will strike everybody. But the disciples didn’t want to risk getting out of the boat. Peter got out of the boat. And he didn’t do it just because it would be exciting. His primary reason was because that’s were Jesus was. Jesus was out of the boat and on the water. And Jesus is still looking for people who will get out of the boat.

Modern day water walker - Doug and Kathy Haskins.

When somebody decides to get out of the boat, they are never quite the same. And Jesus is still looking for people who will get out of the boat. I don’t know what this means for you.

·         When we take God’s call seriously and have the faith to get out of the boat, something’s going to change. It may be quite visible as it was for Bob. Or nobody may ever know it besides God. But your life will never be the same, and your world will never be the same.

·         When you fail—and you will fail, because there is a storm out there, the wind is rough and the waves are high—when you fail, Jesus is still wholly adequate to save. He really is. But to find out, you have to do one thing: If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.

Call on Mine and Penny's life.

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