“Watching & Waiting” Meditations: 14. Crazy Hearts
Mt 14:29 “Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”
Yesterday we pondered on the craziness of lifting off a gravestone when a body has been dead for four days. I can’t help but feel there is a picture there – we need to lift off the covering over the church and reveal the deadness that is so often there, and then speak life to it to bring change. If the Lord puts that on your heart, do it.
But faith is crazy – from a human perspective at least. It is catching the heart of God which is far bigger than our natural understanding. I find there are times when people who have ‘seen’ something speak it out and I struggle with it – is that really so? For example, John Piper is a writer of excellence. There are some writers whose work when you read it leave you feeling well fed. Piper is one such writer with such a depth of knowledge, experience, and insight. In one of his books, ‘Desiring God’, he sums it up as, “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him.” i.e. I glorify God most when I am most blessed, contented and blessed by Him. That needs thinking about! When I am happy in God, He’s glorified.
In more recent days, another pastor, Dane Ortlund, in his book ‘Gentle and Lowly’, picks up a similar thread, that Jesus is most blessed when we allow him to perform his ministry of meeting us in the low points of our life: “When you come to Christ for mercy and love and help in your anguish and perplexity and sinfulness, you are going with the flow of his own deepest wishes, not against them.” i.e. Jesus is most blessed when he’s helping us. Wow! Those truths I find my natural inclinations struggle with, but I do believe they are true, nevertheless.
These things simply underpin the truth, I believe, that faith is not easy. In some senses it is crazy – always – because it means stepping out on a whim, or rather a feeling, a sense that I have heard God and something inside me says, ‘Go for it!’ and so we do the crazy. The Christian heart did that at the beginning anyway. We had lived our lives by our own wisdom but when that had provided insufficient, when we heard of Christ and we heard his call on our lives, we surrendered – without knowing how it was going to work out. As Paul wrote, the message of the cross is foolishness to so many, to the Jews who demand signs and the Greek intellects who demand wisdom (1 Cor 1:18-25) but to us it was like a straw to be grabbed at as we drowned.
But then we embarked on the ‘crazy life’, not really knowing where we were going, because Jesus doesn’t explain, he simply says, ‘Follow me’ and who knows where he will take us. So we move on from outside Lazarus’s tomb, yesterday, to a storm on the Sea of Galilee, a big lake with often capricious weather. Jesus has sent the disciples on ahead of him in their boat. They are on ‘home ground’ – all right water! – it’s the territory that four of them at least know all about, even being in storms. So they are on their own, “a considerable distance from land” (v.24a) and it’s rough and the wind is against them. Then they have a really terror-making experience. Right out there in the middle of this big lake, they see Jesus walking – yes walking! – towards them. And this figure calls to them across the waves, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (v.27) It’s got to be a ghost, but then loud-mouthed Peter gets a crazy sense – it IS Jesus, the real Jesus, it IS him! But people can’t walk on waves! And he suddenly finds himself yelling across to Jesus through the tearing wind, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” (v.28) Peter, have you lost your mind. This is crazy stuff.
All very well to read it on the pages of the Bible but to try doing it – stupid. Well it is stupid if you don’t have an open, available heart that says, ‘Lord, if it’s you bid me come to you’, crazy if you haven’t heard Jesus say, ‘Come’, and he doesn’t want you do it otherwise. But here’s a reality check as we watch, wait, and listen: is my heart truly open and available for whatever he might say? Would I hear if he only said one word? Could I trust him to raise my faith level to act? Could I trust him to enable me to do what is otherwise not only impossible but stupid? Such situations raise all these sorts of questions.
I did say that faith is not easy and to quote John Wimber for the umpteenth time, “Faith is spelt R-I-S-K.” I might get it wrong, I might have heard wrong, I might have heard the enemy, it might just be wishful thinking, yes all these things are possibilities, but unless we do actually step out at his bidding, we’ll never have the testimony Peter has.
If you run across Peter in heaven and ask him, “Hey, did you really, actually walk on water?” I suspect you may find a slightly bashful response formed by the ingrained humility created by reality, “Well, yes, it was only a few seconds, then I sank and, as always, I needed the Lord to haul me out. It was no big deal.” These things are never ‘a big deal’ afterwards. I have testified elsewhere of being in Malaysia and met a team of three young people who had been into the interior with the gospel, and the girl recounted with no emotion, “I prayed for this blind lady, and she was able to see.” It was no big deal – afterwards.
So dare you and I, as we watch and wait, allow the Lord to speak crazy words into our hearts? But remember two things: first, it is only what he says and, second, he only says what he knows you are capable of. Yes, he’ll do the enabling, but you can speak the words to your unsaved friend, you can pray the words over your sick friend. The worst that can happen is nothing, and they’ll soon forget it anyway, but the best might happen – He convicts and they get saved, He acts and they get healed. Simple!