Sometimes, despite all the confirmation and evidence and assurance, it is still difficult to step out of the boat and walk towards Jesus.
In Matthew 14, Jesus was right there - he was walking on the water. Though it's normally something that is impossible, he was doing it right in front of them. So when Jesus invited him, Peter also stepped out, and began to walk on the water. That is, until he noticed the wind. Until he looked to the situation instead of to Jesus. Then he remembered that walking on water is impossible, and you are more likely to drown in the wind and the waves.
Except that he had been walking on the water. And that Jesus was still there, on the water. And that anything is possible with God. But even with Jesus physically in front of him, Peter doubted.
We can be like that, even more so, with things less tangible that wind and waves.
I am beginning a program called Fearless for Christian teenagers in High School. You can have a look at the books and resources page for a bit more info on that - I'll be putting the workbook up there soon.
But in beginning a program aimed at helping young people 'step out of the boat' and live with a strong and thriving faith, even while they are at school, I've had to do some stepping out of my own.
I first had the idea for this program over a year ago, and I have no doubt God planted the seed even before that. But it never got past the 'thinking about it' stage, until recently when it actually began to grow into a fully formed plan. I knew it was something important to do, but I still had no idea how to go about it. How could I actually gets kids to come to it? Not that I have a shortage of kids - working in a school, they are in abundance. But when you are aiming a program at kids who are maybe feeling a bit apathetic towards their faith, how do you get them to switch on the enthusiasm long enough to decide to come.
And when would I do it? Kids lives are so busy these days, will they make the time for it? When do I have the time for it? Should I start now? Next term? Next year?
I had no idea where to start with it, so I gave it God and asked him to show me the right way and the right time. And to make sure I wasn't so blind I missed the cues.
He didn't let me down. He made it as obvious as possible that NOW is the time, through a seminar, conversations and a youth night - all focused on the exact themes of the program.
So I thought, "Ok, looks like Jesus is asking me to step out of the boat." And so I did. That's not the end of it though. I may have decided to do it, and put up the posters and begun spreading the word. But then in less than 2 weeks I actually have to front up and run this program. And hope that I'm in a room of kids with open hearts, and not in an empty room, alone.
I trusted God to show me the right timing, and he did. Now I'm trusting him that he'll be the one to bring the kids that should be there. I have no idea whether that will be 100 kids, 10 kids or 1.
And even with all the evidence before me, the proof of God's providence and timing - I still doubt.
When a student that I really think could benefit from this program makes it clear that they don't agree, and probably won't be coming, or a set back arises, or opposition crops up - it's like Peter when he remembered the wind.
If I take my eyes off God in this, I'll drown in a see of doubt and impossibility. I'll remember that I haven't done anything exactly like this before, that teenagers are difficult to pin down, that there is so much in their lives competing for their attention it can almost impossible to get them to see when something is really important.
When we focus on the situation instead of on God, that's when we fail.
The bottom line is, do I trust that God is completely in control? Do I trust God that he cares for me? Do I trust that God is for me and not against me?
Yes, yes and yes. So I can trust that it is Him at work in this situation - it's His program. What is the point of any ministry program if it's not centred on God? So it's not about me.
I'll keep my eyes on Him; I'll ignore the wind and the waves. Jesus controls them anyway.
Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Matthew 8:24-26