“He said He’d meet us on the other side.”
The other side–it’s always greener isn’t it? The what’s next, the “new,” the unknown. There’s a thrill in it, an unspoken promise of something greater in store for us, simply because it isn’t where we currently are. The what or where we don’t know somehow takes on the image of something more fertile, something or somewhere we will be more apt to make profit, be successful, or gain safety, as in the case of the above video. If we can just wait, If we can just get to that other side, we’ll be ready… And it’s that kind of bull crap that sways the Christ-follower into a stagnant waiting game that never really existed in the first place.
Sucky things happen. Friends and family die unexpectedly. School takes over your life. People hate you. Cancer strikes at the worst moment. It’s no newsflash–sucky things happen and they are never welcomed with open arms. But it seems to me that when we waste so much time getting through suffering or difficulties that we forget our current location is not unable to be used for the purpose we are intricately designed for: glorifying God. When we are in the storms of these sucky situations, we put our hard hats on and make the trudge through the storm as if God himself told us to do so. And don’t get me wrong… that’s not always a poor decision. But the fact that our focus shifts to the bad so easily based on our surroundings shows a severe lack of focus on the God we say gives us the life-juice we live on. We spend so much time “getting-through,” that we forsake the hard times for any hope of producing something God has designed FOR THAT SUCKY TIME. It’s never until after the fact that we realize there was purpose in the struggle. And while that’s a beautiful thing to realize in retrospect, I am sick and tired of being the stupid Christian who has spent roughly 10 years with a Savior that I don’t even know well enough to see His handiwork as it’s performed. And yet, like a reflex, when we are thrown into a storm, we run through it with arms flailing wildly, nothing except the goal of getting through it on our minds. To me… that is so incredibly disappointing. And even so, I feel more and more certain I disappoint my God in the process. So, there’s that. Way to go, A. Props.
Look at the disciples in the boat. They take off on their journey with an expectation and goal of getting across the sea where they are to meet Jesus on the other side. But what happens? Do they get there? Where do they find Jesus? Because I’m pretty sure it ain’t on the other side. No, it’s right smack dab in the middle of a raging storm at sea–that’s where Jesus is, standing atop of huge waves with lightning bolts threatening above. He’s in the storm, not the other side. And for dense people like myself who focus so much on getting through the sucky to find Him, here’s a nice newsflash: He’s just as present in the sucky as He is on the “other side.” If we were as close to His heart as we ought to be, the sucky wouldn’t even be considered such because it would render His majesty and glory just as powerfully as any other time in life. And if that’s our true purpose, shouldn’t we be just as “productive” in that purpose on top of stormy seas as on calm ones?
Not only does Jesus show up on the storm-tossed waves, He also provides safe passage for Peter to walk on the freaking water. I mean, put that on your bucket list: walk on water. Seriously though, Jesus shows up in the middle of a storm and invites Peter to come walk on some pretty ominous looking water with Him. And Peter does! For a few seconds at least, until he doubts his safety amidst the wind, rain, and lightning. And He falls into the water to be rescued from a potentially watery grave AFTER the fact. And there ya go–story of our lives. Strong start, doubts, a fall, and a rescue. That ring a bell for you?
I don’t know about you, but I’m so over living like that. I’m so done thinking God has something better in store for me in a few years, a few months, a few days. No! That is the same poisonous thought that makes God-followers settle for man-made Christianity and sub-par expectations of a Spirit that raises dead people to life. Right. Now. RIGHT NOW. If you are on your death bed, if you are President of the United States, if you are a tired and weary Southern Miss senior with a deep-seated hate for school… No matter where you are, your location is irrelevant to the fact that it’s a ripe season to worship and bring our Father some glory. Every sucky situation… really isn’t that sucky if we are holding onto Christ so much that we acknowledge and see Him in the suckiness. If our purpose in life is to bring God glory and that purpose is made possible even amidst the hurricane of life, what more could we really ask for? Calm or storm-tossed, the path Jesus invites us down is one of unconditional safety, transcendent of whatever storm you’re in. Walking on water faith isn’t reserved for still waters. It’s available in the biggest tidal waves the world can throw. The problem is we don’t really believe that.
Ya know, I used to think I could change the world. Seriously, I thought I could legitimately change the way things are in the world: feed the hungry, rescue the orphans, and somehow give every human a roof with four walls under it. And then I grew up a little and realized that was not necessarily the case. I can’t change the world. I can’t even change a city, a college campus, an organization. But… I have something that can. If my life truly lived off the overflow of a Spirit present in my relationship with God, He can change the world. And for some reason (jury is still out on what that reason is), he uses the poorest vehicles such as ourselves to do it. To live a life of Spirit-overflow: Imagine a world that was full of people with that goal. How bout a state? A town? A college? A household? One person? It all starts with trust without border. It all starts with a disciple that is willing to forget about the other side and embrace the stormy waters as his/her firm foundation. Made firm only by a Savior’s promise. Made solid by a Spirit’s assurance. Made pleasant by a Father’s love. And made possible by a willing heart.
So, here’s the whole point: let’s stop staying in our boats when the thunder rolls. Let’s stop holding onto this unknown “other side.” Let’s stop waiting. Let’s actually believe Jesus for who He says He is. Because whether or not we realize it, Jesus is right in front of us. No matter how terrible your storm is, how terrible can the waters be when Jesus stands on top of them? His hand is extended. We just have to trust enough to walk out and take it. The next time you think of how terrible your current situation is, or how you cannot wait to get through whatever your dealing with, slap yourself in the face and get it together. We should be done “getting through” perfectly good opportunities to perform the tasks and purposes given to us by our Father. It’s time we actually acted like Christians and trusted the Savior we know too much about and not enough of. Walk. On. Water.
Sometimes I feel like we forget about the kingdom Jesus spoke so mysteriously about in the gospels. We immediately think of heaven: God’s throne with throngs of angels singing repeatedly, streets of gold, all the saints, etc. But that kingdom was there long before Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. The Kingdom He made possible is a kingdom that makes its home in the hearts of His people–aka, the Holy Spirit in us. That’s the Kingdom the Messiah came to establish through a Holy Spirit–the power of God for ALL THE EARTH. And it’s up to us to let that Spirit take over our life so that the rest of the world can see this Kingdom for themselves. And I’m going to be bold enough to say that it takes walking on water faith to do that.
“He said He’d meet us on the other side.” Waiting for the other side is dumb when what I’m waiting for is right in front of me. His grace abounds in deepest waters, so why wait until land to experience it? Just like Peter, we have to have the faith to get out of our boats in the midst of our terrible storms. And once we are willing to get there, we must let the assurance of Christ’s Holy Spirit walk us over the waters we find so dangerous. Unlike Peter at this time, we have a Spirit within us that enables us to live a Christ-like life. And while walking on water might not be a literal task for you, it’s an add-on to the Christians spiritual to-do list in following a Spirit-driven life. The storm is where Jesus invites us into grace. The storm is still a place we serve our truest purpose.
It’s been a while, so I’m trying something a bit different on this trip. The Airstream door is locked up, lights turned off, and electricity shut off. I think it’s time I took a little trip on foot for a change. You’ve heard the rantings of an Airstreamer’s heart, but now it’s time to see the acts of it. I guess Airstreams aren’t made for the water. But I’ve got a heart and two feet that sure are.
Gettin’ out of the boat,