Monday, July 30, 2018

God of a Second Chance

You may have attempted some great thing for God and failed dismally. I know I have, and it did not feel good at all. The great Apostle St. Peter had his moments of failure. Did you ever wonder how Peter felt when he failed to walk on water? The following is my guess of what he would have written in his diary - if he kept one.

There Is Always A "Next Time"

By Simon Bar Jonah

I was becoming really sick.  The constant pitch and roll of the small boat was taking its toll. Many of the others were worse off.  Twelve of us had started out, over half were cramped up from rowing and all had blisters. Even longtime fishermen like me had become seasick. I had never seen a storm like this in these waters.  A few of my friends had collapsed on the deck too exhausted to move out of the nauseating puddles of vomit - heave offerings to the god of the sea. Sitting back on the fantail my nausea eased as I stared back at the horizon. I could still make out the glint of faraway campfires on the beach that we had left eight hours ago. At this rate, we would never make it. I began to pray. “Lord, I don’t mind saying it, I am scared! Please help us.”

The trip started well enough. It was late afternoon when we sailed into the setting sun.  We all kicked back as the sails filled as a steady off-shore breeze pushed us smoothly out to sea. We had escaped the crowds of people who kept dogging us and could now relax. I calculated in my mind that it would take us something around three hours to reach the opposite shore. Our team had split up and we would regroup later that night on the other side. The peace lasted for no more than thirty minutes, then the wind changed. It began to increase and come at us from the north on our starboard bow. We donned our jackets as the north wind cooled the evening and sprayed mist in our faces.  An hour later the wind intensified to gale force coming directly against us.  We lowered and secured the sails moments before they would have been torn, and pandemonium reigned as we broke out the oars and began to row furiously just to maintain our position. Several of the men had been hurt during the brief but intense battle with the sails. We rowed in teams of four men at a time. One hour on, two hours off. I had completed two shifts now and my body ached all over. And most discouraging of all, I could still see the flicker of campfires back on the beach we had left hours ago. We were not getting anywhere.

Now at three AM, I finished my second turn and was taking a rest back on the fantail. Looking back into the starless night, I could make out tiny glimmering lights from campfires back on shore. “We hadn’t made much progress.” I thought to myself. “How long could this last?”  Long ago we gave up on meeting our schedule, now we are only trying to keep from being blown back on shore and crashing on the rocks. “Is there any hope at all? Why did he give us this impossible task?”

Gazing back into the darkness, I catch a bit of movement off in the distance. “What is it? What is out here with us in this storm? Is it another boat? Is someone coming after us? “   
Now it’s gaining on us. Whatever it is, it isn’t having the same trouble we are having moving ahead. Old timers used to talk about sea monsters that lived hundreds of feet below the surface of the lake. They said they only came up at night when raging storms disturbed their rest. They would be so angry that they would crush anything in sight. Fear takes over as I forget all about being sick. Maybe it won’t see us in this storm. My fears are now eased as I note its course is not directed at us but on a parallel. It will pass us about a hundred yards off our starboard beam.

Now almost abreast of us, I begin to get a better view. It is eerily ghostly through the rain. It has a man-like shape rising above the waves. “Is it real? Can it be a demon? Maybe it’s an angel? It doesn’t appear to be a sea creature.  It looks like a man. Could it possibly be Him? It must be Him. But what is He doing out here? It is Him. But He is passing us by.”

“Is that You, Lord?” I shouted through the raging waves. He was right there walking on top of the waves and not sinking! Boy, would I love to be able to do that? He had told us that if we believe, we could even make the mountains jump into the sea. If it is His will and I believe, then I know I can walk out there to Him

“If that is you, Lord, call me to come!”

“Come, Peter!”

The boat, my seasickness, and the retching of the others are forgotten. All I can think of is Jesus out there, walking as if nothing extraordinary was happening. He is just taking a casual stroll in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, while the gale rages and the waves crash around Him. I know that if He called me, then He will make a way for me to do it. And He did call me; I am going to do it. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. No doubt about it. I can walk on the water as long as it is He that called. 

I’m not afraid,. I don’t look back. Jumping over the transom, I boldly step out on the water. What a rush! I don’t feel the wind blowing around my head nor the waves raging at my feet. All I can see is Jesus now only sixty yards ahead. It’s like I am flying. My feet touch the water but I don’t sink. I get further away from the safety of the boat. I have this sudden desire to turn around and yell to the others back in the boat, "Look at me."

I think about the boat and realize that even though it is pitching and rolling, there is safety in its solid deck. Out here on the water, I am in the deep unknown. A man could yell for help out here and no one would ever hear.

“How long can I keep this up? I am too far out to swim back in this storm. If I stumble I’m dead. What if that isn’t really the Lord?”

I look around and can’t see Jesus. I’m all alone out in the middle of the sea and I am beginning to sink. “Help, I am sinking. Jesus, save me!”

The next thing I know, I am waking up with the solid comfort of the ship’s deck supporting my back. As I Cautiously open my eyes, all the others are laughing at me. 

“What were you trying to do?” they jeered, “walk on water?”

I feel like a fool. What made me think I could accomplish anything so significant?  I’m just a tired fisherman and now they all think I have gone over the edge. “How will I ever live this down? I will become the laughing stock of Capernaum.”

But, as I think about it, I know it was the most exciting and exhilarating experience of my life. It was worth it. Let them laugh. I really did walk on water. I am only sorry that I was not able to complete what I had begun. I was scared, I took my eyes off the Lord. I did not fail - I merely gave up too soon.  

Still lying on the deck, I am embarrassed - not for trying something impossible - but for not trusting Jesus. If I had it to do over again, I would not fail.  My gaze went right past my laughing comrades into the smiling face of the one who had saved me. Jesus was not laughing. His smile told me that He was proud of my attempt. He mouthed the words that only I could hear.

“There will be a 'next time.' there is always a 'next time.'"

We all need to attempt something so big that it is impossible unless Jesus makes it happen.

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