Tag Archives: patience

Faith & Spiritual Drift: Do Something Crazy

Matthew 14: 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said . . .

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I’m in
On to the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again, “Boy, You’ll never win!

 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”   32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

(Text: Matthew 14:28-33 NIV. Lyrics: Casting Crowns, “Voice of Truth” Mark Hall/Steven Curtis Chapman)

I’m beginning to realize more and more that most everything in the Bible is there for a reason, even this little story of Peter climbing out of the boat and walking to Jesus on the water. Yes, it obviously shows Jesus’ control and mastery of nature. Yes, it shows Peter’s depth of faith to even attempt to get out of the boat. But I believe there’s an allegorical story in these few passages applicable to anyone “treading water” in their lives, jobs, problems or relationships.

First of all, to have enough faith—in yourself, or in your abilities, or in God—to do something completely irrational. Jesus said to Peter, “Come.” He literally meant, “Come to me out here in the middle of the sea in the middle of this storm . . . on the water.” And Peter says . . .

“Okay.”

Remember, the other eleven apostles were in the boat with Peter. How crazy must this have seemed to them? But he did. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. How cool must that have seemed: To be able to pull off something so physically impossible?

But then life happened.

He looked around.

He started paying attention to his surroundings and to his predicament; to the world around him. That’s when he started to sink. He began to fail—flailing and foundering—under the weight of his own circumstances. He started to believe he wasn’t supposed to be doing what he was doing instead of believing in himself, his abilities and his God.

It’s what happens when any of us step out in faith in a decision, be it personal, relational, or work-related. Sure, it feels good to make the decision. It may even feel good to begin the undertaking. But then life happens: something doesn’t go as planned and you start to doubt your abilities. Or worse, the world begins to feed lies into your ear that you can’t/shouldn’t/won’t.

Your beliefs shift. Maybe you really can’t do this. You begin to pay attention to the waves (the difficulties and obstacles), the wind (the fears and criticisms of friends and loved ones), and the sea (the time, effort and discipline involved to be successful). Your focus shifts away from what truly brought you out here; your faith (in yourself and your ability and/or in God and His ability), and it’s not until you reconnect with that that you once again begin to rise above the reality that surrounds you.

For Peter, stepping out of the boat and towards his Savior, mentor and friend just seemed like the right thing to do. His circumstances should have told him “no”. I’m certain his friends told him “no” and probably called him crazy. Yet, leaps of faith often look like that from the outside: There is no rational way you should be able to pull this off.

Do you have a situation in your life right now, a choice to make between a conservative action and one that just seems so . . . out there? What does your “gut” tell you? Listen to it . . . often, that “still small voice” is your abilities, or God’s abilities through you, telling you to take that risk.

Jesus reached out and picked up a half-drowned Peter. His journey wasn’t over; not even close.

They walked back.

To the boat.

On the water.

Together.

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Incidental Anger Management 2.0

I had a blog all ready to go entitled “Incidental Anger Management”. It was all about those people in the world that just seemed to go through their day . . . mad. Their P.O.’d pistol is all cocked, locked and ready to unload on the next person that crosses them with even the most insignificant “wrongness”. And, as many of you know, I work within the wild jungles of retail customer service, so this type of subject is near and dear to my heart. I was all up in their grill with my self-righteous piety and “respect” this and “patience” that. I felt gooooood writing it. I felt all high and mighty in my condemnation. Then I looked at it after I’d finished and thought . . .

That’s not right.

So I worked on it . . .

And worked on it . . .

And worked on it . . .

Then, after I’d worked on it some more, I stepped back, looked at it again, and I thought . . .

That’s still not right.

Then Sunday came and I’m sitting in church listening to Pastor Mike talk about “community” and it hits me . . .

He’s talking to me! He’s talking about community. My community. Not just a community of believers, but the real, honest-to-goodness community around us: our friends; our neighbors; the people we work with; the people we work for. And in doing so, he’s rewriting my blog.

He says, “In community, we learn how to love.”

Honestly, there are days when I go to work and I genuinely don’t feel like loving my customers: Especially the ones that come in already mad and looking for an outlet—not a resolution, an outlet.

And you know who you are.

He says, “In community, we learn that love is a choice, not a feeling.”

So, in spite of (or sometimes because of) circumstances, I have to choose to love you. Yet, there’s also another choice I’ve made; the choice to follow Christ. So that, in choosing to love you, I can enter that choice neither alone nor unarmed:

1 Corinthians 16: 13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love. 

1 John 3: 18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

To me, there’s something calming within those words. I don’t know of too many people who have spent a majority of their employed lives working within the public sector—whether in retail, teaching, public safety, support services, etc.—who don’t have a definite opinion on . . . humanity; people; “them“.  But love is a choice, not a feeling. You don’t have to be a Christ follower to understand that. Still, it’s something we have to learn how to do, and it’s something we have to continually practice. There are times that we’ll feel we’ll never master it. That’s not the point. The point is to choose . . .

And choose again . . .

And again . . .

That choice may not matter to them . . .

It’s not for them anyway . . .

A Need for Quiet

I won’t lie. I get some of my best ideas in the shower. I’ll bet you can relate. There’s just something about the hot water, the steam, the relaxing sensation of the water on your skin. What is it about that span of time that makes it so conducive to a free flow of imagination?

It’s mindless for one. I’ve washed myself enough times that I don’t really have to think about the process anymore. (And if I do, there’s something seriously wrong with me.) So the mind tends to wander; freed from the mundane tasks of everyday life; of figuring out what to do at this moment, and this moment, now this moment, etc.

For me, it’s the same with driving to and from work on a daily basis. Some of my favorite times in driving are when I turn off the radio, open up the sunroof, crack the windows, and I’m just . . . thinkin’.

–Okay, off topic for a second. I’ve got Pink Floyd’s “Money” playing on Pandora right now (Pandora btw, is the best thing EVER to happen to the internet!) and Gilmour’s solo in that song is his second best ever . . . here it comes, I’ll be right back . . .

Aahhh . . . Okay, I’m back. And see, there’s my point right there; you can’t seem to concentrate unless there’s a minimum of distraction—both external and internal.

Did you know that a “quiet time”—call it meditation, prayer, astral projection, whatever—is one of the few things that pretty much every religion has in common. That’s the one thing the founders and purveyors of every religious faith, every spiritual belief, got right . . .

We need quiet time.

But, how do we get that?

What if we start with just a couple minutes?

Next time you’re driving by yourself, try to clear your mind for a brief span. Turn off the tunes and just see the road as it unfurls in front of you and into the distance. Next time you’re in the shower, instead of thinking about the day ahead or the day just ended; clear your head and watch the steam rising, swirling into a montage of designs, making its way past the water stream and into the lights. It’s in times like these that I notice my thought patterns shift from rapid fire gottadothisgottadothisgottagottagotta to more of a conversation; “I’ve got to do this . . . Well, if you do that, you might try it this way . . . Hmm, that’s pretty good and you know this might work too.” And on it goes.

I think that too often, when we seek to spend a little “time to ourselves”, we try to make our quiet time DO something. After all, we have to feel like we accomplished something in all that time we spent doing, essentially, nothing.

Kinda not the point, is it?

In fact, I’ve grown accustomed at times when I pray not really saying . . . anything: Just being quiet; still. God knows my heart already. He knows my wants, needs and desires—and there are times that I definitely put voice to them. But there are also times when I just want to listen, to clear my head and see if God has anything He wants to say to me. Most times it just is what it is . . . a quiet time. Then there are times, like in the car or in the shower, that a thought will occur, an idea will strike, and it will be so complete, so fully formed and so right, that I don’t think it could’ve come from anyone else.

What I find funny is usually these particular thoughts have nothing to do with bettering myself or my situation. Usually they have to do with conveying an impression, an action, or an idea for the betterment of someone else; something to tell my wife or something that solves a problem at work, maybe something I feel convicted to express in my writing.

Sure, you can say in a situation like that, that it was your own, or my own, personal brilliance; and it very well may have been. But what if . . .

What if there’s a genuine necessity to a quiet time?

What if there’s a true purpose behind it?

What if it’s a higher purpose?

What have you got to lose in trying?

Whatever you do, don’t pray for patience!

A lot of things have been said about God: Some of which are actually good. One thing that can’t be said however is that God doesn’t have a sense of humor. If you want to test that theory, just try praying for patience sometime.

This is one area where the old adage rings true: “God doesn’t grant you patience. He grants you the opportunities to show patience.”

Except there’s only one problem with that: I don’t want opportunities to show patience.

I want PATIENCE. And I want it NOW, dammit!

But that’s not the way it works in the life of spiritual growth now, is it? What good would it do for God to just give us patience like that? What would we have learned? No, no, my friend; look at it through the omniscient lens of our Creator; the gift is not in the acquiring, but in the process to acquiring. I can just picture my Heavenly Father looking down on me as I pray for patience at the start of another workday, shaking his head in a resigned melancholy and saying, “Ooooooookay . . . .”

I know. I’ve done it with my own son: Usually when it involves a ramp of cushions, a flight of stairs and a laundry basket.

Ooooooookay . . .

In other words, “This is probably going to end badly.”

And besides, don’t think that they don’t have “Heaven’s Funniest Home Videos” up there. You’ve got to think that even though they’ve seen it a million times, all of heaven goes nuts for this stuff; you know they do! I mean, how many times have you seen “Guy gets hit in the crotch with a Basketball”? It’s still funny! And, when our children are poised at the top of the stairs, all smiling confidence and self-assurance saying, “Watch me! Watch me!”, who are we as parents to say ‘no’? We could. In fact, we probably should, in most cases. But more often than not, these are what we like to refer to as “learning opportunities”, or “teachable moments”.

So, we bite our lip, watch the carnage unfold, apply the antiseptic and band-aids, and say things like, “its okay . . . its okay.” All the while mentally whispering to ourselves, “I knew it . . . I knew it.” After all, in the end it’s not what our kids want, it’s what we know is best for them that matters; like life-lessons on gravity and hard surfaces. Why should our Father be any different with us? It’s that omniscient thing again—like he knows everything. Like how we don’t need patience, we need to learn patience.

Dammit!