At last! The puzzle pieces are falling into place, things make sense all of a sudden. Thank God!
Why don't you follow me into the barren wasteland that can be my brain at times, and I will share with you one of God's lessons in my life:
The other day I read the story of Peter trying to walk on water. You may remember: Jesus walked on water to meet his disciples waiting for Him on a boat. As He was about to reach them, Peter asked the Lord to let him walk on water as well. Jesus told Peter to come on over and Peter took a few steps before he started to sink. Halfway under water he cried out: "Save me, Lord!" Instead of telling Peter that it served him right for being so presumptuous, Jesus immediately came to his rescue and sadly asked him: "O ye of little faith, why did you doubt?"
This seemed an easy enough story to understand, but I have always struggled with Peter's request to defy the laws of physics, something only God can do. It seemed arrogant, and worse, it seemed to be tempting God. The way I looked at it, Peter deserved to sink. I even hoped the water was cold!
But then, during our annual mission trip to Ecuador this summer, it finally dawned on me that I had been concentrating on all the wrong points. In fact, I had misinterpreted most of them in the first place. Peter was not tempting God, he was pushing his own faith in order to come closer to Him. He dared to take a step into the unknown and only when his faith faltered did he fail. And then, how beautiful a prayer, he simply cried out "Lord, save me!" I have never actually prayed like that. My prayers run along the lines of "Give me strength", "Grant me wisdom", "Keep me sane". How puny a request when I could be asking for God to save me!
At long last I was on the right track and God could move up his lesson plan for me: in preparation for our Small Group bible study, I worked my way through the long list of Jesus' miracles in Matthew 8. By miracle number 5 the light finally came on: Jesus granted each request for healing with a statement along the lines of "according to your faith you shall receive!"
In other words: huge faith = incredible things in your life; little faith = an apparent coincidence here and there.
Not once did Jesus put the petitioners in their place, not once did he reprimand them for the audacity of their plea. On the opposite: the bigger the request, the stronger the petitioner's faith that He could help, the more pleased Jesus seemed to be. Anybody could ask, from the centurion down to the leper. They could ask for themselves or for somebody else, for a family member or a servant. They could ask for healing, they could ask for the reversal of death, none of it mattered. All they needed was unshakable faith in Jesus' might and the nerve to approach Him! Not that it took a lot of courage to do that: Jesus performed miracles left and right. He was full of compassion, love and admiration for their faith. Just as He was sad when Peter's faith wasn't quite strong enough.
Hallelujah! I can almost picture God throwing up his arms in relief that one of his denser students has finally accomplished her lesson. I can see him marking my paper with an A- and getting out his schedule to see what comes next on his plan for me. Maybe he will even write a note under the A-: "O.K. in theory, let's see how she does in practice." Please, oh please Lord, let me get this right. Let me step out of my comfort zone, and let my faith in you carry me.
Save me, Lord!