When to Get Out of the Boat
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?” –Matthew 14:25-31
Most of us have heard the story of Peter walking on water before, and possibly heard the phrase “If you want to walk on water, you have to step out of the boat”. But how do we know when we are at that point in our own life? How do we recognize when God is asking us to step out of our boat (a.k.a. comfort zone) and go, by faith, in the direction He is leading?
Discernment in this area can be challenging. It’s so important for us to be able to recognize when it’s the Holy Spirit calling us to step out in faith, versus our own impulse to do something spontaneous. There are times God will ask us to do something that makes little to no sense in the natural. Our logic tells us it’s impossible, and everything in our circumstances would seem to indicate that it won’t work. However, when the Spirit is leading us to step out in faith, it has to succeed. God makes the impossible possible! This is different than having an impulse to do something outlandish as a way to test God. Doing something foolish or risky and saying “it’ll be fine, God will take care of me” comes from our own flesh rather than the Spirit. When a thing is Spirit-led, it will always be marked by a deep-down peace in our spirit, so that no matter what our physical eyes tell us, our spiritual eyes tell us God is the one in control of this seemingly impossible thing. But the seemingly impossible becomes possible only when we are led by the Spirit first, and then step out in faith. When we take off on our own and expect God to follow and cover our behinds, that is when problems happen. It comes down to who, or what, is calling you out of that boat. Is it God? Or is it your own boredom, insecurity, need for adrenaline, need for control, or impulsivity? It’s important we ask God to confirm when it is Him asking us to take that step, and to show us if it is in fact our own flesh pulling us that direction. God is faithful to increase our discernment if we ask–and it’s important that we ask (and keep asking)! Discernment is one of the most important tools we have in our spiritual walk. It is the compass that keeps us on the path God is clearing for us, and keeps us from wandering around, lost and confused.
So…before you take that step, check your spirit. What’s it telling you? Do you have peace in your gut that this is where God wants you to go? Then go in faith! If you are lacking peace (and I’m referring to peace in your spirit regardless of what your emotions might be saying…but that’s a whole other blog post), then it might be wise to pause and ask God to confirm what He wants you to do. Maybe the waters you’re sailing into aren’t where God wants you to be. Maybe the water He wants you to walk on will take you into a much more amazing life than you could imagine!
Be blessed this week! Exercise your faith muscle and see what God will do!