When I was little I took some swimming lessons. I can’t remember exactly how the levels were set up at the time, we’re talking over 30 years ago now; I do remember passing the first and second levels. I think the first level might have been the red or yellow level or something like that, then the second level blue or green. I do remember that the third level was the orange level. I know this because it is when I quit swimming lessons.
In the orange level, one moves beyond simply being able to put their face under water, float on your back, tread water (which were the lessons of the first 2 levels that I remember). In orange you got to jump into the deep end off the diving board for the first time, but you also had to learn to coordinate your arms and legs. For anyone who knows me, knows that coordination is not my strong point and do there were a few things that I was just not able to get and so I failed the orange level.
So, I never went back to swimming lessons.
I’ve never been a really big risk taker, and it used to be that if I failed at something I would never try it again because of the failure. I’ve since grown and learned that we can’t let failure hold us back from taking risks and trying new things.
I think of that, as I think of Peter in the story found in Matthew 14:22-33. It’s where the disciples have been sent off on their own in a boat as Jesus stays behind. Meaning he is not with them when a big storm hits. The text doesn’t tell the reader that they were afraid of the storm, but they certainly fear when they see a figure walking on the water, who turns out to be Jesus.
Peter says that if it is you, command me to come to you on the water, so Jesus does. Peter heads out onto the water and is doing fine for a few moments, but then he notices the storm around him and begins to sink. It strikes me that Peter took a risk, he had to have had some inkling that this figure on the water was indeed Jesus and through Jesus, he would have what it took to also walk on the water. But he fails because of his doubt. Jesus saves him while rebuking him for his lack of faith, and then Peter confesses him as the Son of God.
Now there are many explanations of this story, by people far wiser than I could ever be. To me however it seems that one thing that we can draw from this text is that sometimes it is in the midst of our failure where we can mostly clearly see Jesus. Even when we have taken our eyes off him, for a moment or even years, that he still reaches out his hand to save us, and just as he used Peter to start his church he will still use us in his church.
That’s what I have as I think about the text this week.
I’ll be taking the next three weeks off as I will be on vacation, but look forward to continuing this journey in the *gasp* fall.