not all water is from the same ocean

Lately I’ve been meditating on Peter and his relationship with Jesus. And I must shamefully confess that I envy Peter. I long for a brave, dare I say brash, boldness like Peter.

The passage in Matthew 14 of Peter and Jesus walking on water seems to capture their relationship in one passage. Peter is zealous with his love for Christ and asks to be called out on the water with him, yet when he takes a step in trusting Jesus, disbelief and fear overcome him. Ultimately his disbelief and fear is what inspires his belief.

I was created with a desire to go and to go far. It’s more than the twenty-something wanderlust, it’s a desire that I’ve had since I was very young, and it’s one that wants to lose itself in other cultures and other people. Oftentimes, when the church says “step out onto the waters,” we imply that this means ‘go to another country/city where you don’t know the language/culture/people and share the redeeming love of Christ.’ I’ve been programmed into thinking that an extravagant radical trip is what it means to step out in faith, but it wasn’t stepping out into faith, it was living one of my biggest dreams.

This is why I couldn’t comprehend saying no to an opportunity to go serve in Coney Island in Brooklyn this summer; an opportunity to do what I love, serving the impoverished, to lose myself in a new city, and take a break from what is around me.

I was given a great revelation: not all water is from the same ocean.

It turns out that my treacherous waters hold familiarity, routine, and the mundane. It’s one of my biggest fears to wake up ten years from now and be in the same place, working the same job, taking the same roads to the same places. Sameness terrifies me.

I asked Jesus a few weeks ago to “teach me how to walk on water.” He quickly reminded me that Peter never learned “how” when he stepped away from the boat. I asked Him instead to “show me what it looks like to stand where I’m supposed to sink.”

Not walk, but stand.  

I didn’t notice my word choice until yesterday. I saw Jesus walking on water, and I was stepping off my own boat to go to Him. But as I stood on the water, I became afraid. I just wanted to flee to Jesus out of fear for standing in one place for too long; I was afraid of sinking, and I wanted to be safe.

My fear- not my love- is what provoked me to run to Jesus.

But whenever I took that first step to run, Jesus told me to “stay.” The commander of the waves I was walking on commanded me, but I have the choice to obey Him, unlike they do. Staying would mean to stand still. Staying would mean to trust the power of my God over the power of the elements around me.  Staying would mean taking the risk of sinking.

And so, I stay. I stay in Dallas and say no to Brooklyn.

Which means I’m learning to grow where I’m planted. I’m learning to stand on waters that I’m afraid will swallow me. I’m learning what it looks like to live within the same community for an extended period of time, through conflict and celebration, without being “saved by the bell” so to speak.  This will demand my dependence on the pure, perfect, and holy characteristics of a God that deals perfectly with humans because only He can handle an apartment of seven flawed humans (I being one of them) for months on end. So I’m learning what it looks like to be more like Him: faithful.

I think I’ll even be okay with sinking, as His waves crash over me and take me deeper into Himself.

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