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September 25, 2015

How often do we recognize Jesus?

by Dave Malnes

In the storms of life when the winds of adversity and the waves of uncertainty threaten to swamp our boat, it’s hard to recognize our Savior. He seems to appear in the distance as a frightening ghost — disinterested and uninvolved. Our trust can waver and our hope can begin to sink with the rising waters of doubt.

In times of prosperity — when the gentle breeze of financial security and the warmth of good health gently rocks our boat — it’s hard to see Jesus. The bright glimmer of pride reflects off the calm water distracting us from His presence. We callously wave him off with an air of self-sufficiency and forgetfulness – that He is the source of all our blessings.

The distractions of life easily causes us to not recognize Jesus – even when He’s standing right next to us.

“Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”   (Matthew 14:27)

Jesus’ disciples have launched from the shores of Galilee. In the darkness of evening, a lone figure is coming toward them on the lake. Terrified that it was a ghost, the superstitious disciples cry out in terror until Jesus calms them with these words,

“Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

And then Peter makes a startling request.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “Tell me to come to you on the water.” (v. 28)

Bold? Foolish? It is either a remarkable testimony of an unyielding faith or a stunning revelation of human arrogance.

How would I have responded if I were in the boat with Peter? Would I have criticized Peter or joined him?

To be honest, I probably would have been embarrassed.

I would have thought to myself, “There he goes again. Another train wreck caused by Peter.”

Relieved that it was Jesus off in the distance and not a ghost, I would have been aghast at Peter’s request.

Walk on water? Like Jesus?

I am more inclined to stay secure and comfortable in the boat rather than to test Christ and step out in faith.

But when I choose to remain in the boat, I miss out on a wonderful opportunity to grow in my faith. Peter quickly failed and had to be plucked from the sea. I would have failed, too. Jesus would have plucked me from the sea as well.

In that moment when the hand of Christ grasps underneath my arms and pulls me to the surface, I would have experienced a valuable lesson – that Christ is always near; that I can trust Him; and He is with me no matter what.

Jesus – who rescued me from the consequences of my sins – continues to rescue me from myself, my fears, my pride, and my lack of trust in Him.

When I step out in faith, I step in to Christ. And I am blessed. I discover that my fear and insecurities that kept me in the board were resting squarely on self. Only outside of my boat, I am forced to find security in Christ. Only outside of my comfort zone, can I find comfort in Christ.

Jesus says, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

The darkness of night seems the darkest, the waves of fear seems the highest, when we are asked to walk on water by sharing our faith with others. We quickly learn that it’s not about us. Opportunities abound all around us and we don’t see them. Jesus is guiding lost souls within our presence and we fail to recognize them. We often struggle beneath the waters of fear, busyness, or fatigue until Jesus plucks us out with His hands.

Perhaps it’s time to make a bold request.

“Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come and share my faith with (insert name) for whom you have placed in my life.”

Perhaps it’s time to test Christ and step out of the boat.

“Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

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