Continued from yesterday….
To say the least, I can imagine just a bit of what the apostle Peter felt when he was out at sea with Jesus. Now Jesus had calmed the winds and seas before. Peter had seen it firsthand. But memories as a veteran fisherman die hard. Peter had been scared of drowning for years. So when he was caught in another storm with the disciples alone, he thought it was all over. And then what should he see, but a ghost walking toward them on the waves. The other disciples cry out in terror. But Peter recognizes it is Jesus. And he does the unthinkable: Instead of asking Jesus to calm the storm, he asks Jesus for the power to conquer drowning. “If it’s you, Lord, let me walk on the water too.”
It’s a surreal moment as Peter steps out of the boat and starts walking on the water. And then he drops into a big swell and sees a large wave crashing toward him. In an instant, Peter is double-minded. Fear of drowning. Believe in Jesus. Fear of drowning. Believe in Jesus. Fear of drowning.
When push comes to shove, fear kicks in, old wounds grip our hearts, and we’re tempted to doubt God’s heart, God’s power, God’s love. It can happen to any of us. Believe me.
Was Peter sinning in those fleeting seconds torn between faith and fear? No, I don’t think so. Instead, I think Peter’s double-mindedness simply revealed some of the wounds in his heart, wounds that faith in Jesus Christ would but hadn’t yet healed. Only after spending six weeks with Jesus after his resurrection, and then being filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, were Peter’s fears healed and his faith made fully alive.
I wonder if you can relate at all to Peter’s struggles? Do you know what it’s like to be torn between faith and fear? Did you feel any of that struggle September 11, 2001? Have you felt any of that struggle the past 50 days in the midst of the global economic shockwaves that have hit us all?
If you’ve been tempted to doubt God’s heart, God’s power, God’s love, I urge you to ask God to heal the old wounds gripping your heart. Take each wound, each fear, to God. Lay them at his feet. Only then can you pray for heavenly wisdom to know what to do — and have the sheer, utter confidence that God will answer your prayers.
Of course, Peter isn’t the only story about a double-minded mind caught in a violent storm at sea. Jonah’s story, however, is completely different. In Jonah’s case, he preferred drowning to obeying God. Why in the world was this God-fearing Jewish man so double-minded? Because he preferred the Judeo Holy Land Dream over the idea that God could have any other plan for his life.
What about us? Is it possible we’ve intertwined the American Dream with our Christianity? If so, we’re double-minded and most likely ill-prepared for what’s happening right now economically.
Recently the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Oregonian newspaper confirmed what many of us knew anecdotally the past few weeks —that suicide rates are up here in Oregon. Why? Satan does his best to intertwine our hearts’ allegiance. When our American Dreams all fall apart, he pulls out the suicide trump card and whispers it’s the ultimate escape. What a pack of lies.
Do you see the utter danger of Jonah’s kind of double-mindedness? If you’ve been caught in the same trap, thank God there’s hope—lots of hope. Whatever you do, confess the error of your ways to God. As well, I urge you to confess the error of your ways to someone you know you can trust.
Believe me, I’ve had to confess my Peter kind of double-mindedness to the elders of my church and other respected friends. And I’ve had to confess my Jonah kind of double-mindedness as well. I wish that wasn’t the case, but it is and I would be lying if I pretended otherwise.