Getting Out of the Boat

Oceans is probably one of the most popular worship songs over the last couple years. It’s a song penned from one of my absolute favorite passages of Scripture, Matthew 14:22-33: 

“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”” (ESV)

The story of Peter’s faith – and the doubt or lack of faith. 
In the bridge of Oceans it says, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander, that my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” A year or so ago I read a post from Annie F. Downs about why we should stop singing Oceans. Annie reminds us that when we sing this bridge, we are asking the Holy Spirit to lead us to a place where our trust is without borders – this song is a prayer. Those borders He can lead us to come in a variety of ways – geographic, economic, racial, religious, social, political, and so forth. Annie asks her readers, “If you will ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to where your trust is without borders, do you actually mean that?” 

A similar question was posed to me while in Haiti – except it was about the hymn I Surrender All. When we sing that, are we really willing to surrender all? Will you surrender your spouse, children, finances, job, etc.? I’d like to think that yes, we would. Giving up control (even the idea that we’re in control) is not something we like to do. I’ve fought God on this one. I’m getting to a point where I’m finding and learning total peace when I surrender all. As a military spouse, this is really hard. During my husband’s last deployment, I almost flat out refused to surrender my husband to God for fear of something terrible happening. God showed me time and again that He’s got my back! As I write this, it’s early in the morning and my husband is sound asleep next to me. 

When we ask the Holy Spirit to lead us where our trust is without borders, then we have to surrender all to Jesus. Ever since reading Annie’s post about it, it’s what I reflect on every time I hear and/or sing Oceans. It’s that reflection that brings me to tears. I want to live my life in total surrender to Jesus. I want to go where He wants me. I want to have a faith so deep that if Jesus calls me to get out of the boat, that I will walk on water toward Him. I also know I’m human and I’m a sinner. I let my doubts and fears sometimes become bigger than my faith. 

Often times, when the waters get rocky, instead of trusting, I start fearing and doubting. I try to make that bridge part of Oceans my prayer and mean it, but then I get afraid of what that means. I let my faith become shallow like Peter did as he walked on the water. 

One of the reasons I love this story about Peter, is because I think it’s a perfect example of how we, as Christians, really experience our faith journey. We keep our eyes on God during the easy times. Even small storms we stay focused on Jesus. But what about the big storms where the wind is scary and the water we’re walking on gets choppy? Do we stay focused on Jesus or do we let fear and doubt get the best of us? Friends, even as Peter looked away, Jesus saved him. Jesus will be there for us when we fall. We just have to be willing to let Him help us back into the boat. 

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