Montana is an extreme weather state. and we are currently, as in right this minute while i write this, experiencing some extreme weather... blizzard like snow, very low temperatures, and very high winds. it's called winter... ever hear of it? oh and it's the wind that freaks me out the most. the sound of it blowing through the trees and past the house keeps me up at night. it doesn't help that early in the season we had a massive tree blow over and destroy some of our neighbors farm equipment. i just can't help but envision that happening to our house! and it scares me. i can't help it because i can't escape it... i see the effects of it as trees threaten to fall over and i hear it constantly rushing into every teeny space between doors and windows, the creaking and whistling. it's all around.
in Matthew, the disciples had a run in with the wind. in chapter 14 they were out in the middle of a lake, when it kicked up. and when the scripture says that the disciples boat was 'beaten and tossed by the waves, for the wind was AGAINST them', i take that very seriously!
[let me take this opportunity to mention another Montana extreme... our lakes are extremely everything! extremely deep, extremely cold, extremely beautiful. they are also, when the wind comes 'round, extremely scary. the waves that the wind stirs up are ocean like in their strength and size. boats sink and people drown every year. it's terrifying.]
i'm sure you're familiar with this story, therefore you know what comes next... Jesus, came to the boat... walking on the water. wind and waves and water did not hinder him in any way. i don't believe that Jesus had to think long and hard about walking across the lake to the boat... it wasn't hard for him. nothing is too hard for him. but it scared the disciples near to death. Peter, however, being, well, Peter, got a surge of courage and in what seems like an i-believe-help-my-unbelief sort of moment, he says "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." and Jesus says..."come on". and Peter did. he walked on the water. as Jesus did. that impossible, scary thing? Peter did it too. i mean, it wasn't impossible or scary for Jesus, and he called Peter in to experience how possible it really was. and Peter did, but only for a moment. because next thing we know Peter fell right back into frailty and fear. 'but when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord! save me!!"' i find it incredibly interesting that he seems to have forgotten all about the wind and waves there for a minute. when Jesus first appears to the disciples on the water it says they were terrified. Jesus reassures them by saying "take courage, it is I. don't be afraid", but it never says he stilled the storm or stopped the wind. so when Peter got out of the boat, it stands to reason, the waves were still crashing and the wind still howling.... he just stopped seeing them. he only saw Jesus.
i want to only see Jesus. but often, i just see the wind.
sometimes i think, when i hear the Spirit speak to my heart with an idea or call me out to something i know i'm meant to accomplish, i get so excited about it at first! i think "YES!!! this is what i've been dreaming of and waiting for!!"... in the same way that Peter had that initial thrill and sense of daring to do something that seemed so crazy. and then, also like Peter, i often get my proverbial feet out of the boat only to find that insecurity and doubt have bound themselves around my ankles and i begin backtracking and hyper-ventilating and reassessing the situation.... in essence seeing the wind and inevitably i begin sinking.
it's not just actual wind blowing around my house that i'm afraid of. there is a tempest whipping past my mind, trying to tempt me to doubt. there are gusts of distractions, blasts of confusion, whirlwinds of fear all meant to stir up such a storm that i lose all hope and sink. but, Jesus. he invites me in to His normal. which, to my human eyes, is impossible. still, he commands me to come out
...onto the water...
he doesn't necessarily stop the storm in order for me to do so. he just says...'come'. climb out of the boat in spite of the waves. walk towards me despite the wind. don't stay there with one hand on the railing. don't grab a life preserver just in case. walk out, step out, eyes up, ignore the wind.
will we lose our balance? yes, most likely we will fall, forget, and/or fail a few times. will Jesus catch us? yes. every time. but he will call us back out again and again. the hope is that we will learn and grow, that our faith will be made stronger...bigger... so that Jesus' normal, becomes our normal too.
in an effort to see Jesus above all else and as a reminder to keep my eyes on him alone, i've chosen to memorize this passage in Matthew as my STANDard this month:
'...but when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord! Save me!". immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "you of little faith, why did you doubt?"...'