DayBreaks for 8/23/17 – On Rough Water, #2

DayBreaks for 8/23/17: On Rough Water #2

Matthew 14:26-31 (ESV) – But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Why did Peter sink? Of course, we know the answer because the passage tells us. He was afraid when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind. So let’s not waste time on that question when I think there’s a better question to ask.

Why does Peter call out to Jesus? If Peter really was a man of little faith (as Jesus says), why did he call out to Jesus? In what way had Peter demonstrated a lack of faith? After all, he’d stepped out of the boat, walked on the water, and when he got in trouble, he called out to Jesus! All of those things cry out “faith!” to me, and probably to you, too. So, why would he have called out to Jesus if he didn’t have faith that Jesus could do something about his sinking situation?

On Sunday, I think I heard an answer. It wasn’t a question of whether nor not Jesus could do something. All Peter had to do was look at Jesus walking securely on the water to know that Jesus could do anything he wanted to do! I think that is was a question of whether or not Jesus would do something. It wasn’t a question of ability but of willingness. Peter wasn’t sure that Jesus would be willing to save him. Why? Not sure, but I suspect it revolved around several things: 1) Peter knew he had in some sense “failed” because he was sinking; 2) Peter wasn’t sure enough about Jesus’ love for him given not just this failure, but others that Peter and Jesus were certainly aware of.

I believe Peter had all the faith in the world about Jesus’ ability, but like us, he’s prone to doubt Jesus’ willingness after we’ve blown it yet again. After all the promises to God to never to that thing again – we do it. After all the times when we’ve thought evil thoughts, after all the times we’ve failed tests that God has sent our way…we don’t believe that Jesus loves us enough to help. And that is why Jesus says Peter is a man of little faith.

Do you see it? When we doubt that Jesus could possibly love us enough, we’re being just like Peter. We’re expressing lack of faith not in Jesus’ ability, but his willingness to save a “wretch like me”.

So what does Jesus do when Peter cried out: immediately he reached out and grabbed Peter. Will we learn from that, will we come to believe that Jesus loves us enough to reach out to us in spite of our bazillion failures? Peter came to believe it. I hope we do, too.  

PRAYER: Lord, when we are tempted to doubt that you love us enough to rescue sinking people like us, remind us of your willingness to bear the awful crucifixion for us. Whenever we begin to doubt that you could possibly still love us in spite of our failures, let us remember the lengths you went to in order to show us your endless and immeasurable love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/23/16 – How Ships Float – and Faith

DayBreaks for 6/23/16 – How Ships Float and Faith

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

I recently spent some time talking and praying with a fellow pastor whose wife has been diagnosed with cancer.  They still haven’t settled on what the course of her treatment will be, and everyone is remaining hopeful that God will work a healing in her life, one way or the other.

As I sat talking with my friend, we got around to pondering the imponderables of life.  Although we are both people of faith, as is his wife, the questions still come about what purpose God has in this and why such things happen.  Sure, we both know the theological arguments for it, but when something hits that close to home, you do rethink things.

He shared with me an illustration that he’d read just recently about Romans 8:28 – you know, the verse we’re so fond of quoting about how “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord…”.  Here’s the illustration: if you were to take any of the individual parts of a huge ocean liner and throw them into the water, they would sink like the proverbial stone.  They just can’t float by themselves.  But when all the parts are organized and put into the right place and attached together in one finished product, the entire ship floats perfectly.  It is much more successful at floating than just the sum of its parts or than any one of its parts.  Why?  The key is in the verse from Romans 8:28: All things work TOGETHER…for good…”  Do you see?  Individually, any one part may not work at all, we would look at it and say “That can’t float!”  But somehow, when it works together with the rest of the parts, they ALL float magnificently.

And so it is with the things that happen to us in life.  I can’t explain how it works.  I can’t tell my friend why God has brought this trial into their life – but I can say that somehow, God takes all the individual pieces of our lives that would sink like a rock, puts them together in an intricate weaving of life, and he sees to it that in the end, it all WORKS TOGETHER for the best.

As you look at individual happenings in your life (like the striking of cancer, heart disease, losing a job, etc.) they look like nothing less than an unmitigated disaster of cosmic proportions.  But God sees all those things put together, working together, to make us something special that DOES work.  So, when you look at something that happens in your life that appears disastrous, remember that God is still working to fit it into the overall design that He has in mind for you, and that His design will do more than float…it will fly! 

PRAYER:  Lord, Your ways are so far beyond our understanding that we can only bow before you, knees knocking, and do our best to trust and believe that somehow, in a way that none of us can begin to fathom, You’re putting our life together perfectly.  May we rest in this certainty as we face the challenges and disappointments of life today and always.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/10/14 – Disappointment #6 – the Struggle in the Storm

DayBreaks for 2/10/14 – Disappointment #6 – The Struggle in the Storm

ship in storm 007 Fishing Boat in Trouble

Luke 8:23-25 (NLT) – As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. 24  The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm! 25  Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

Thus ends the story of Jesus and his disciples in the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, intriguingly, is sleeping. The disciples are not – they’re frantic. They are about to write their own epitaphs. And, they are clearly upset with Jesus. In Mark’s version, their question is a bit more pointed: “Don’t you care if we drown?!” Jesus woke, spoke a few words, and the storm was still. At least the storm on the sea. But the storm in their hearts was a storm of another kind.

Think about this a minute. Why were the disciples so surprised? And secondly, if they didn’t think he could do something to help, why did they awaken him? Why not let him go to the bottom in peaceful slumber?

I think John Koessler (The Surprising Grace of Disappointment) nailed it when he said he thinks these questions are the map of the landscape of our spiritual lives and our struggle with doubt. Jesus’ response: Where is your faith? is not easy to understand. Was he upset for being awakened? Probably not. He was used to interruptions, and even seemed to welcome them. Maybe he felt they were over-reacting. Most likely not, though, because these were men who knew these waters and knew how to survive in the storms that often swept up the lake. And Luke says the boat was being swamped. This was not faux danger…it was real, a life-and-death situation.

The disciples had demonstrated faith in Jesus by waking him. They clearly thought he’d do something. So what can Jesus’ statement mean: Where is your faith? Koessler suggests that perhaps what Jesus meant was Where is your faith in yourselves? In other words, Jesus may have been chiding them for not taking action, urging them to stop crying about the situation when they already had the skills they needed to tend the sails, man the oars, bail out the water. Could Jesus have been urging them to do all that they could before they came running to him?

God seems often to not do things except through the ordinary means of people and their own effort first. Jesus could have created fish and chips on the mountainside without any human involvement, but he used a boy with his own lunch to work the miracle.

Still, in this case, I think Jesus wasn’t talking about faith in their own efforts.  They seem to have done what they could and were at the end of their proverbial rope. They’d reached the end of what they could do and the boat was still being swamp, swallowed up by the storm.

But, get this, because it relates to our own struggles with faith and disappointment: to understand Jesus’ question about their faith, we need to take into account the their exclamation after he stills the storm: Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him! What does that tell us: that their cry in the storm was an expression of their need, but not of faith.

Bear in mind that it was Jesus who was responsible for their predicament: he’d set the plan in motion (at his request) to go across the lake to the other side to start with.  Much like the Israelites who complained to Moses in Exodus 14:11 about their predicament in the wilderness, the disciples statement was really a criticism of Jesus’ plan.

But Jesus statement explains the rebuke when seen in this light. He wasn’t upset because he’d been awakened, or was he upset with them seeking his help. He was disappointed with their lack of faith.  As Koessler said: Jesus was asleep in the boat, but He was not asleep at the wheel.

We know from the story what Jesus did for the disciples. But our uncertainty is whether or not He will do something for us. Not everyone who ever cried out to Jesus on the sea has survived. He doesn’t always speak to the wind and flying water and make it quiet. Sometimes, the ship goes down.

What are we to make of such things, especially when it involves those we love? Come back tomorrow and we’ll pursue this together further!

PRAYER: I can’t help but wonder, Lord, how many times you’ve looked at me and wondered, “Where is your faith?” I thank you for the reminder that you are always open to being awakened by my cries and that you do respond as you see fit. Thank you for the comfort of knowing that at the times I think you may be sleeping, you are not asleep at the wheel that directs my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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