“Peter replied to Him [Jesus], “Lord if it is [really] 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 toward Jesus. But when he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out, “Lord save me!” Immediately, Jesus extended His hand and caught him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.”
I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Belize doing field research and a significant part of this experience was spent on the water. Let me tell you something… I CANNOT SWIM! I have successfully avoided being in deep water most of my life. And prior to going, it did not occur to me that we’d be spending as much time on and in the water as we did. For 4 days straight, we were on the water. And this was easily the most time I have spent on water, in deep water in my whole life. That last statement is a whole message in itself, but I’m not going to spend too much time on that in this post, perhaps another.
Day one, we rode on the boat, my heart felt heavy, I was unnerved with the anticipation of having to go snorkeling for the first time, in the ocean. And as I sat on that boat, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to my anxious heart and told me to “walk out.” *insert side eye* Now given the circumstance, I assumed in that moment that it was not a literal walking out, while we were still en route on the boat, jumping on waves in the middle of the ocean. But in that moment, I felt like Peter. I envisioned God stretching out His hand across the ocean and asking me, to walk out. But in that moment, it was unclear in what ways He needed me to walk out, but I did in the only way I knew how. I walked (or really “swam” and snorkeled) out, into the deep. Now of course, I can’t swim but I decided to go… why? Because I had flippers, and a life jacket, and people around me to help keep me afloat and moving as we trekked through the water together. And as I wrote this in my journal for the first time, God painted such a beautiful picture from this moment that I wanted to share.
When God tells us to take up our cross and walk, we often mistakenly get this idea that it’s one that is ours to bear alone. But from this experience God showed me that He gives us everything we need to complete the cross, and lift it up so that we can successfully walk out on faith, in every circumstance. The life jacket and flippers represent a depiction of Jesus and our connection to God, the vertical component of the cross. These were the tools, the flotation devices, the protection we have, our security to walk out and make sure we don’t sink. What a sweet reminder this is! In situations, where we don’t always have the skills within us, when God tells us to walk, we can be reassured that He will provide everything we need to not drown. I didn’t know how to swim yet even as terrifying as it was to be out on such deep water, I had the confidence that I wouldn’t drown. And this wasn’t just because of the devices. Because the second part of the cross, the horizontal, is our relationship to each other, and the support we’re given through community. I had such a phenomenal support community of people who knew my limitations in this moment and were willing to stand in the gap to lend support in what I could not do on my own. And isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? The people around literally held my hand, as we swam or stayed beside me and behind me to make sure I was okay. They were the perfect depiction of the support and relationships God has given us to walk this journey. This was the sweetest depiction of the completed cross.
Like Peter, I was tasked to walk out on faith, as we all are, and in every moment, when God asks what seems like too much of us, we are to be reminded of the cross, and its completion when we carry it, through God’s protection and the communities in which He places us. I am reminded of how much God protects us and loves us enough to cover us in just the way we need, how the cross covers us in just the way we need in every moment. He provides skill and strength in the areas where we may be novice or weak. He stands ready to fill in those gaps while also sending others to support us along the way!
I said I wasn’t going to spend too much time on it, but I’d be remiss not to. I said earlier how I’ve spent so much of my life avoiding deep water-literally and figuratively. The fear of swimming and being in the deep is symbolic of how I’ve lived through so many seasons of my life until now. Fear and uncertainty have stopped me from experiencing and doing so many bold things in life. This experience was more than just a reminder to me about faith, but an opportunity to see what waits on the other side of bold, courageous, and sometimes ridiculous and crazy faith. What would have happened if I didn’t go snorkeling? I would have missed out on an opportunity to literally see a different world underwater, one that I had not been exposed to or had access to without taking that step. Yes it was terrifying, I struggled the whole way, especially that first day, even got sick in the water (probably from the waves and taking in too much saltwater). But then as the days went by, we kept going back, and it got easier, I was able to move better on my own and in deeper water. And this was a reminder to me to keep walking out in faith, because it gets easier and opens up new opportunities that would never have been seen had that first step not been made. Even beyond the opportunities, moments of faith walking like these also unlock a new dimension to who you are and are capable of becoming- new dimensions of strength, of fearlessness, of capability and endurance. I’m grateful to God for being in a season where I feel more courageous to do things that I would have never done earlier in life. In big and small ways, this season has tremendously stretched my faith and I’m just grateful to be able to share the lessons I have learned and that I am continuously learning through these moments.
God, I thank you for the ways you use life to teach us more about your word. I honor you for being a God who covers us on all sides, and never lets us drown (literally and figuratively). I thank you for giving us communities of people to support, and who support us along our journeys. I thank you that you have given us everything we need to carry a completed cross and walk out on faith in this life, even though hardship and difficulty, and that even that is not our burden to bear. Thank you for the beautiful reminders, the simple reminders you send through life to remind us of your love. In Jesus name, Amen!