When the seas become solid
To finish out the three-part series on faith, I will be covering a practical application to equip anyone and everyone to feel more confident in their faith. This analogy came to me in a meditation and it has developed into a filter that I experience the world through, and I can only pray the same for you. I also pray that even though this story that has been exposited by many greater women and men than I am, there would be a freshness in the words I write that could lift your spirit and shine a new light on what I believe to be a new understanding of this ancient and incredible mystery of God.
First, I will start with the vision I received and put it into a biblical context. I talked about this story in the first blog of the series when I dove into little faith. It takes place in Matthew 14 and it is when Jesus calls Peter out onto the water. We will pick up in Matthew 14:22.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
I believe this is the reality of what really happened: the sea had become solid for Jesus, not just his next step. How does this change anything and what can we take from this? Well first, let’s try to grasp this lofty topic of what we desire to have, unwavering faith. Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him on the waters, knowing that he would get over to the other side by walking. It was the only way to reasonably make it over to the boat for Jesus. I promise that would be the last thing on my mind if I was trying to catch up to a boat in the middle of the lake while the waves were against them.
Let’s fast forward to the encounter with the disciples for this is where we can grasp the difference between Jesus’ faith and our own. We see Jesus approaching the boat and after letting them know that he wasn’t a disembodied figure but he was their Rabbi, he is met by the voice of the oldest disciple, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter knows that if it is the Rabbi, the one they know is the messiah, he would be able to walk on the waters to him, but if it is not, it is a trick and He is not who he says he is. Peter can see the power of the Lord but does not attempt to walk on the waters the same way Jesus did. Here we have our dichotomy between the two types of faith.
We must start with Peter’s faith (oftentimes even greater than our own) to attempt to frame the glory of Jesus’ faith properly. When Peter steps onto the water, he sees that the molecules have become below his feet, that the supernatural has bled into the natural world that we know, and it has produced a different result than normal. He began to walk on the waves. That seems to be his downfall as well, in this scenario. He was walking on waves. When he sees the wind and realizes that what is happening is unbelievable, he quickly doubts and begins to sink because of the sheer insanity of walking on water.
Framing this alongside the Rabbi’s faith, we see a different type of faith. Jesus wasn’t walking on waves; he was just simply walking. To have an outlook that, “this shouldn’t be happening” will produce just that, but Jesus approached it with a different thought. He says, “I will join the disciples now. I have no boat so I will catch up on foot.” And he does. The next step wasn’t congealed for the messiah, the entire Earth’s waters had become like solid ground for the Rabbi’s feet. Imagine tightrope walking across the Grand Canyon as opposed to walking on your living room floor. This is the separating factor. Jesus, who was acting in 100% of his humanity in this scenario, had power over the waves because of his unwavering faith in the father’s providence, that nothing could get in the way of Jesus and the next place he was going. Nothing – not great height or perilous depth or broad expanse of a substance that can be traveled upon by foot.
This is where we must desire to be if we are to look like Jesus. His faith was not in the wind and the waves, but that the Father would bring him to where he needed to be and trusting the Father’s providence above what is natural. How do we live in this truth? Here a few ways that we can grow in or faith and begin to walk on the solid seas in our lives:
1. Walk in God’s assignment for the day
Jesus stayed behind to take care of his flocks but knew the disciples needed to get moving to make it to the other side of the lake. Jesus was never hurried. He was never too busy although busy may be a good word to describe the last 3 years of his life on Earth. Jesus knew that every day had an assignment and there was never too much or too little. He walked in faith that where he was,
Jesus was a man. His final job title on the earth was
2. Test God in his faithfulness to bring about what he has promised
Testing God can be an uncomfortable thing to do and it can also turn into a wicked thing if our heart isn’t in the right place. However, we are asked to test his goodness and faithfulness in a healthy way. We see great deliverance and favor shown when we are in over our heads and we cry out and are saved. David, the author of Psalm 40 writes, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” ² David was referencing an idea that is foreign to us, but when put into context, it might make sense.
David uses the imagery of a wadi, a valley that is dry all the time except for in the rainy season, to describe his testing of God’s goodness. Frequently, during the rainy season, these wadis would be filled with rushing water suddenly, destroying anything in its path. He uses the imagery of a man being stuck in the mud and mire that is leftover from a flood of the wadi and it is only a matter of time before the wadi floods once again. He shows his helplessness and his despair in his cries to God and the Father has mercy on him and lifts him up from certain death and allows him to be exalted above the floods. What does this mean for me and how does this relate to solid seas?
As we walk in our daily assignments, we will, undoubtedly and possibly often, encounter things that are too great for us to handle on our own. We will be faced with a sea in front of us and we will have to get to the other side. As we walk with the Holy Spirit, we must submit to the power of the divine providence and take our step onto the sea that has become solid. There is nothing that could get in the way of us besides a will that is not submitted. When we encounter things that are too hard for us to handle on our own, we must believe the seas before
3. Unlearn the natural as complete truth
This might be the hardest thing to accept as truth for people, especially those who have a deep admiration of the natural world and its standards. There is an incredible beauty to water that is truly a miracle and its ability to sustain life. Water has incredibly unique characteristics to it that make it the perfect sustenance for life, but also one of the most unique compounds in existence. Water is polarized, is a great solvent, has a high heat capacity, has a high heat of vaporization, has cohesive and adhesive properties, and is less dense as a solid than a liquid. If you want to, you can look up these individual characteristics of water that make it so incredible, and I implore that you do if you are as big a nerd as I am.
However, as beautiful as the natural world is and as perfect as the Father made it, there is something beyond the natural. If I haven’t quoted C.S. Lewis too frequently in my writings, his incredible work on miracles is worthy of mention in this section. “In Science, we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity, we find the poem itself.” ³ We are faced with a reality that the natural world is subject to the supernatural world and that God enjoys penetrating our porous, natural world with the sweet transcendent nature of himself. The natural is not complete and lacks anything that can sustain our souls.
In unlearning the natural world as the complete truth, we accept the power and glory of the Father to carry out what he has promised. We begin to accept his will as the most powerful thing in the universe. The beauty of the will of God, if submitted to over and over again will make you never want to leave it. A.W. Tozer says this about being in God’s will, “Outside the will of God, there is nothing I want, inside the will of God, there is nothing I fear.”
4. Continue in this over and over again
Repetition drives head knowledge into heart understanding. Walking in this sort of faith over and over again is how Jesus was able to walk on these waters. There was surely an adjustment period when the Son of Man came down and took on flesh. He had to walk in faith that no matter what happened around him, he would carry out what he came here for. There were so many times Jesus had to walk in this faith that by the time he encountered the seas, there was no doubt that the water had become like solid ground.
There is a 10,000 hours rule that I love and despise all at once. The 10,000 hours rule is that to be an expert in anything, you need to spend around 10,000 hours to master it. To break it down, that is 20 hours a week for 10 years. I believe everyone should master something in their lives, whatever they feel they might have been made for. I also believe that everyone is called to master their lives, and that looks like spending intentional time submitting to the father. To master your life, there must be training, and this training looks like intentionally releasing and trusting the father at least 20 hours a week, every week for 10 years. 10,000 hours of releasing your life to the greater will of the father. 10,000 hours of being delivered from the enemy, being lifted from the wadi, being fed when there is no food, being clothed as the wildflowers, being led through the valley. Then we will be prepared to walk on the solid seas.