Archive for February, 2012


Focus

The boat plowed through the wave and then plunged into a trough, spray kicking up over the edges and plastering the men inside. They’d been out there for hours, waiting. Darkness had fallen. The night was nearly spent, and still they were waiting. They were tired. They were cold. They were wet. The contrary wind kept slapping waves against their boat.

The day before had been amazing. Crowds of people, thousands of people had tracked them down and followed them, had followed the man whom they were themselves following. So many other hungry folk could, like them, see something of what that man had to offer. Together the whole mass of them had witnessed him perform a miracle and feed all of them from almost nothing. What a rush that had been! But now? Just the chilled and fatigued few were out waiting in their boat.

“Did you see that?” one asked.

“See what?” another responded.

“Look!” a third cried. “Over there, out on the water, walking!”

All eyes turned to look and widened in fear. Someone’s terror put words to their fear. “It’s a ghost!”

Jesus heard their fear and, without hesitation, called out. “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

One, bold Peter, answered, “Lord, if it’s you, the one whom we follow, tell me to come out to you on the water.”

“Come,” Jesus replied.

Peter leapt from the boat and began walking over the water toward Jesus. Away from the boat and its sheltering bulk, the wind snatched ever more greedily at him. He began to look around at the hostile elements, and fear took him. As it rose, his body sank. In panic, Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately caught his hand and lifted him up, saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Together, they walked back to the boat and joined the disciples still aboard it. As soon as they had embarked, the wind quieted.

You might have guessed from my rewrite that I love the story of Jesus and Peter walking on water. I find it rich and thought provoking. It’s also cool. I mean, c’mon! They were walking on water. How COOL would it be to hop out of your boat onto the water and go for a stroll? Forget boats, bridges, and detours. Just walk across that liquid.

Another thing I like to do is think about how these people were real people. In some ways, the text is pretty factual. It tells us that the disciples were afraid, but it doesn’t say that their eyes widened in fear. It doesn’t say that they were tired, wet, and cold, but that there were waves, wind, and it was near dawn. I’ve taken a bit of liberty with it and drawn conclusions because these are people. The text does show that. Goodness, they thought Christ was a ghost! Do you think perhaps they’d been sitting around trying to take their mind off their surroundings by telling each other spooky stories? Then a mysterious figure appears, and they’re totally freaked. Christ is so kind. “Hey, guys, it’s me! Don’t be afraid!” I don’t know, but I can see stuff like that happening.

Because I can, because I can relate, it helps me see what a wonderful allegory this story can be. I probably will not find myself literally in a little boat out on a Middle Eastern sea, and I’m guessing you won’t, either, but this story is relevant and true for us today. We are still called to “walk on water” today.

Consider the greatest commandments, which commands us to love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength. That’s not easy to do. It’s not easy at all. We live in a world that’s not interested in holiness or righteousness. Holiness doesn’t do good things for instant gratification, and righteousness doesn’t sell. Can’t make money off of it. But still, this is what we’re called to do. On good days, it’s kinda like riding in a boat “buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” We’re out there, it’s dark, we’re wet, we’re cold, maybe we’re seasick, and there is a resistance to everything we are trying to accomplish.

Times like that, it’s easy enough to start wondering if Jesus is ever coming. It’s easy to start wondering if we’re getting anywhere or doing any good at all or even to forget whatever it is we were trying to do. Nausea can have that effect on people. 😉 So can cold and fatigue and darkness. They are discouraging circumstances which encourage us to focus on our discomfort while forgetting our purpose. Then, when Jesus does show, it’s not how we expect, and we don’t recognize Him. We freak out because there’s a ghost! “AaaaaAAAAaaaaAAAh! Oh, wait… Haha, Jesus, I knew it was you! I was just kidding!”

A moment comes when we have the opportunity to leave the boat and join Jesus out there on the water, you know, boatless. Think about that. Boats are constructs. They’re something made by humanity to allow us to cope with the instability of water and to use that water to accomplish our purposes. Boats are familiar. Boats are safe. Water is not. We can build and sail and row and drive boats. We cannot walk on water. It’s not safe for us, but there’s Peter jumping out of the boat to join Jesus. That’s insane, but so is a serious commitment to be a child of God. God has given us all kinds of tools (the Bible, church, Christian friends, etc.) to help us build and use boats of our own. However, sometimes those boats are not enough to overcome the opposition, and sometimes I think God just wants to knock our socks off, so we hear, “Come.”

Can you think how Peter must have felt? Excited, frightened, daring? He did fine, though, until he started looking at the wind. I can’t quite figure out how he saw the wind, but that’s the way the text describes it. He was afraid, a not unreasonable reaction considering he was engaged in something that he couldn’t possibly be doing, and that fear distracted him. The enemy got him all flustered so that he lost faith and started to sink. Smart man, though – he immediately recognized his situation and cried out to Christ for help. I have so done that. Haven’t you? Hasn’t there ever been something God has called you to do that you couldn’t possibly do, but out of love and faithfulness, you try anyway? At first there’s some success, but then there’s resistance that throws you off, and a horrid realization that you can’t do this comes crashing down upon you. I think it’s all good until I let my focus be drawn off Jesus and onto the impossible, the obstacle. I start to sink, and the only way I’m going to stop sinking is cry out to Jesus for help.

Have a good one!

My Poor, Neglected Blog

I have neglected it for the past few weeks. What can I say? The poor thing’s had to endure my silence. It has been a busy couple of weeks. First part of this week I spent either sick or with my back tweaked again. I’m not certain which, though I’m leaning toward sick. Then again, it could have been both, ’cause that would be, like, so much fun, right? 😛

Last week, I graduated from physical therapy. They sent me off with an injunction to continue my exercises at home. I was doing that and possibly being a little too diligent at the beginning of this week. My back complained, the cranky, ol’ thing. Really, it is much better, and it’s amazing what a difference that makes in my day to day activities. It’s amazing how much more energy I have and how much more motivated I am to do things!

Another thing that has changed in the last month or so is Carey starting grad school. She’s working hard, and she’s really doing well. I’m very proud of what she’s already accomplished. Before she started, I knew that it would change her life up a lot. I knew most of her world would be occupied with work and school, because when a person is working and going to school, that’s what tends to happen. I did that not so long ago. If I wasn’t working, I was probably doing homework or in a class, and if I wasn’t doing any of that, chances were very good I was thinking about one of them. I knew she’d be fairly preoccupied, and that there would be consequences. She definitely plays less WoW these days, and her homework has cut deeply into watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, among other things. Facebook sees less of her, too, I suspect.

What I didn’t think too much about was how my life would be changed by Carey’s school adventures. I did figure I’d end up with a few more of the household chores, and I knew I’d have to respect her need for time to study, but I definitely underestimated the impact on my schedule. After all, I’m not the one attending. I might not be sitting in her classes and doing all her homework, but I am involved. One thing neither of us appreciated was that it’s been a decade since Carey attended college, and the changes technology has made to the college experience. Online classes are a sometimes wonderful and somewhat confusing new experience for her! The sheer amount of access she’s got online (class, library, etc.) has been overwhelming at times, and I’ve been the lifeboat for some of it. Another difference was that she didn’t work much ten years ago, and she’s needed some help juggling her schedule. I have also assisted her with figuring out what assignments to do when, helped interpret instructions for her, proofread some of her work, shown her how to streamline some of her work, and so on. I guess what I’ve been doing is teaching Carey how to go to college as an adult. Too bad we couldn’t have started lessons before she actually started classes!

Yet another blind spot was I never considered how I would feel about her school days. If you know me much, you might know that I test as INTP on a Meyers-Briggs personality type indicator. The P is negotiable. It’ll switch to J once in a while, but the T, the Thinker side, is set. I would be a thinker and not a feeler, so it’s pretty common for me to have blind spots regarding my feelings. I kinda forget on a semi-regular basis that I have them, and the feelings I’ve had about Carey and school haven’t been universally pleasant and wonderful. I’m proud of her and happy for her and all that good stuff, but I realized that for myself, I sometimes feel pretty sorry. I could be jealous without much effort, because what she’s learning sounds like fun! It’s all intellectually stimulating and stuff, and I love that kind of thing. I never get too far into my green eyed makeup. It’s really not my thing. I have pretty blue eyes, and the green clashes with too many of my clothes. 😉

What’s been a more serious emotional struggle is that it’s easy for me to start feeling ignored and neglected, and I could get real petty real fast if I slip too far into that. It’s not a good feeling to feel like Carey’s getting to have all the fun while I get – oh joy! – to do the housework and be the good friend and supportive roommate who is invisible behind the mountain of books and assignments. It’s not a good feeling to feel like school stole my best friend. Those kind of feelings, while needing some validation, also need, I think, to be carefully shepherded. They are true, to a degree, or maybe it’s that they’re based in some truth, like the fact that Carey is busier and has less time to spend with me. The temptation with that, though, is to get carried away and start feeling like that means she doesn’t care about me. That school is a year plus commitment for her can serve to reinforce that feeling, because it’s been several weeks, and I know it won’t magically get better next week! It’s amazing, isn’t it, how little voices love to whisper to all those hurt feelings and insecurities and unmet needs in order to inflame and exacerbate them? It can all feel much too true. Fortunately for me, while I never thought about it, Carey knows me well. She doesn’t have a load of free time, but she does make a deliberate effort to engage with me. It does make a difference.

Guess that’s about it for now. I do have some other ideas about posts I’d like to write, but I thought a general update was a good idea for right now. Since it’s been a while and all that, ya’ know?