Wading Through Messy Faith

Well, hello again. Here I have been, learning my way around Clinton, MO, and I found that the local thrift shop has a fabulous selection of books, especially in the Christian genre. I have to be careful or I will buy back as many books as I gave away to make the move. Right now I am chewing my way through a book by Mark Buchanan, called “Is Your God Too Safe.” He echoes many of the thoughts I have had over the years, about how we have been losing our wonder of God and missing out on the many exciting opportunities that He wants to give us. Mark calls it “living in Borderland.” He raises some interesting points.

Many of us have enjoyed The Chosen television series by Angel Productions, and who does not love the portrayal of Peter, when Jesus filled the weary fisherman’s nets with more fish than he could tow in alone? Overcome by the sudden realization that Jesus is the Son of God, Peter falls to his knees and cries out for Jesus to go away from him because he is a sinner, yet Jesus waits for Peter leave his boat and his occupation for a life he could not yet comprehend. This is the the understanding that most of us have grown up with, having read this account in Bible School or listened to a pastor teach. Buchanan proposes another paradigm, that isn’t quite as poignant. He points out that the book of Luke portrays Jesus as having visited Peter’s house prior to filling his nets. He healed Peter’s mother in law and many others, even calling demons out of those who were possessed. Perhaps this gospel is not written in chronological order, but if Luke is the meticulous writer we have believed him to be, wouldn’t Peter have already had a pretty good handle on who Jesus was? For most of the people who encountered Jesus during His earthly ministry, He came, He healed, He taught, and He moved on… some tagged along, some stayed where they were and spread the word, and some probably went right back to what they were doing before. But a few, Jesus invited into a mutually intimate relationship, and Peter was one of those few.

Have you ever known anyone who had the opportunity to make their life better, but they couldn’t seem to muster the desire to leave mediocre? To afraid of doing something new. Afraid of leaving what is familiar and comfortable. Unwilling to take a chance. Not interested in going to the dance. Left behind? Not their cup of tea. They are their own best saboteur. That’s me, some days. “Please don’t ask me Lord; I want to sit here and guard the status quo.” I can hum like a child and act like I don’t hear Him whisper, but I see his sandal coming near, so I hold up a hand as if to say, “I’m content, so please, don’t venture in and ask me to get uncomfortable.” He is persistent, and I feel hot tears sting my eyes. “Wait, Lord, I’m afraid!”

No, God is not safe. He isn’t interested in maintaining the status quo. He shakes things up. It’s the only way to break things off. But, He knows how to pick them. We see a pattern in the life of Peter. He was emotional, and sometimes he was afraid, but he could also be like a bull in a china shop, and once the Holy Spirit came Peter was the first to get up and preach. Again and again, his boldness served to further the gospel and build the kingdom of God. At the end of his life, it was Peter who was crucified upside down because he said he was not worthy to suffer in the same manner as his Lord.

So what if Peter’s reaction to Jesus’s approach wasn’t the beautiful demonstration of humility and awe that we all thought it was? Believing isn’t trusting. Sometimes the road to faith is messy, but ultimate obedience always gives way to amazing beauty. God knows how to pick ’em. There is nothing more rewarding than wading into a more intimate relationship with Jesus. If He is inviting you into something new this season, keep your chin up and your hands upturned. Be assured, it is going to be good.

Image by Anja from Pixabay

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