“Life outside the boat” comes from the story in Matthew 14 about Jesus walking on the water. I sometimes wonder why they don’t call this story, “Peter walks on the water”. I mean, sure it is impressive that Jesus walked on the water, but come on, this is God we are talking about, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace….a stroll across the sea was cake for him. Peter, on the other hand….this is perplexing.
So the story goes like this…Jesus, who has been trying to get alone to mourn the death of his cousin but has been busy feeding the 5,000 and healing sick people all day, finally gets his time to himself when he sends his closest friends and followers ahead of him in a boat. As the disciples are out on the lake, a strong wind arises and the waves start tossing the boat. At about 3am, the disciples look out across the waves and see a man, at first they think he is a ghost (obviously) and they were terrified! Do you know what the very first thing out of the mouth of Jesus was?
“Don’t. be. afraid.”
Let’s just sit here for a minute….these 12 guys are out to sea in a little dinghy (at least that’s what I picture…it makes the scene more dramatic), the wind is whipping, the waves are crashing and then they see the figure of a man on top of the water….and he says “Don’t be afraid.”?? Isn’t it just like Jesus to say something like this? He said this because He knew the rest of the story. He already knew what was coming next. He understands why we worry, but calls us to “take courage”. Why? Because He just wants us to trust him.
So, here’s where Peter becomes my personal “hero of faith”…..in verse 28, Peter calls out to Jesus and says “Lord, if it is really you, let me to come to you walking on the water”. And Jesus answers, “Come”. (I can only imagine that if it had been me standing in that boat my first reaction to Jesus saying “Come” would have been “crap, really? No instructions, no life jacket, not even a noodle!!??”) But then Peter did it. He went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. This was just a regular guy…no one special…just a fisherman and he STOOD ON TOP OF THE WATER!!
Now…I wish (for Peter’s sake) that I could say that he strolled right up to Jesus and they walked arm-in-arm back to the others, but verse 30 says that when Peter saw the wind and waves, he was terrified and began to sink. Notice…the creator of the universe was standing right in front of him walking on top of the lake with his hands outstretched…but all Peter could see was his circumstances, the danger, the threat. Sound familiar? But when Peter cried out to Him, even in the midst of his bad choices, his doubt, his panic…verse 31 says that “Jesus immediately reached out and caught him”.
This is what “Life outside the boat” is about. It is about taking that step out of the boat and into a life of abandonment, to follow Jesus even to dangerous or uncomfortable places. To believe that He is who He says He is. It is about walking in victory on top of the water. It is also about making mistakes…taking my eyes off of Jesus, being distracted by the “waves” (I’m sure if you hang out on the blog long enough, you will discover a few of my own personal “waves”). Most importantly, it is about grace. Amazing grace. Grace that pulls me back up onto my feet when I cry out….even after I’ve failed….immediately.