Jesus & Peter Walking On The Water, homily

Homily, Aug 09-10, 2014: Cycle A, 19th Sun of Ord Time (Jesus Walking On The Water)  

Some of the most vivid memories we have of our childhood, center around family outings. Living here on the coast as we do, those outings often involve the ocean.

I remember times with my own family & going to Savannah Beach or Tybee as the natives call it. I specifically remember my dad trying to teach me to swim. In between the waves coming in & going out, he would call to me to swim to him in that lull period.

Being terrified of the water, he had to do a lot of coaxing to get me to try. “Come on you can do it, I’m right here, don’t worry.” Little by little, my eyes never leaving his face, my faith grew in him, not faith that I could swim, faith that he would surely grab me if I faltered – and so I tried, and tried, and finally learned to swim.

I think that was, what we heard in today’s Gospel. Jesus was calling his boys, the disciples, to have faith in Him. Peter, always the first to act, stepped out of the boat & walked on the water toward Jesus until he took his eyes from the Lord & looked at the storm, the wind & waves . Then he sank…

So, this powerful story of Jesus walking on the water in the midst of a storm, coming to the rescue of his frightened disciples & encouraging Peter to come to Him on the water, is filled with excellent insights for us.

Here’s the first lesson: Simplistic but true nonetheless. If Jesus asks us to do it, we can do it. He will supply all that we need to get it done. Anything less from Him would be counter intuitive.

But here’s the hook, when was the last time we actually stopped & asked, “God, is this your plan? For me? Today? See, that’s what Peter was asking when he said, “Lord, if it is You, tell me to come to you on the water”. Peter used graphical discernment.

Unfortunately, we don’t usually do that. We just try to do good things in our own strength & hope that He will bless our efforts? And, that’s alright for smaller things, because…

Discernment is a difficult process. It takes time to unfold. Basically, it asks the question – Is this a God thing for me or is it just a good thing. We need to know, especially for the large things. We should make sure that it is actually something that God has called us to do.

Here’s another thought: If we want to do it, we have to get out of the boat – that is, leave our comfort zone. Most of the time, when we actually listen to God & discern what we are supposed to do, it still feels like a scary step to take. That’s just “faith building” 101.

Maybe we have to have a difficult conversation with a family member. Maybe we have to admit our own sin in that situation & take some responsibility for it.

Perhaps world events shut down the company we work for, and all that entails for us personally. Maybe we have to cut up our credit cards, or make drastic lifestyle changes. Whatever it is, it can seem totally overwhelming & impossible.

At those times we should remember Peter & say, “I’ll do it. I don’t know how this will work. It defies all my logic, but if Jesus is telling me to, then I’ll try my best to do it.”

When we get to that point, the next thing we know, we’ll be experiencing amazing things. God will give us peace that surpasses all understanding; peace we didn’t think we could have. We’ll see God working in ways that we never thought possible. The most unlikely people will step up to help us.

The storm will still be raging, don’t get me wrong, but we’ll be able to stand, in spite of it, because of our faith in Him.

ere’s the third thing: When we focus on the wind & waves, we sink. Sploosh!

Remember Peter.  He was looking at Jesus; he was strolling on the water & everything was wonderful. Then, he started looking around & the reality of what was happening set in. The wind and waves shifted his focus & he sank.

What do we spend our time thinking about when we first wake up in the morning? Do we immediately think of all the things that are standing against us that day?

The pile of laundry growing exponentially in the utility room, the angry boss, the impossible deadline, the sickness of a loved one, the inevitable conflicts waiting for us as the day unfolds.

Or, do we focus on the one who has called us to step out in faith in that day & has promised to be with us in that day & support us every step of the way. Do we believe we have a loving God waiting to help?

You see, each morning I believe we relive this story, because let’s face it, have we ever had a time in our lives when there wasn’t a storm blowing around us, of some kind?

Each day we are called by Jesus to step out in faith in Him. We have the same dilemma as Peter, to actually take the step, & we are confronted by the wind & waves.

Finally: Life in general is all wind & waves, because they are the opportunities sent our way to help us grow in faith in Him.

Through God’s grace, He has already rescued us from our sin. He has promised to be with us always. He loves us. He is the center of our lives. All this other stuff that we worry about, swirling around us, is wind and waves.

Even good things can be wind and waves. They can be just distractions to take our eyes off Jesus. And, we can miss the other good things He really wants us to do.

The simple moral of this story is – “If we focus on the Lord, if we keep our eyes on the Lord, life’s problems won’t go away, but we can rise above them.”

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