Summary: We are called to go out into a stormy world in the name of Jesus Christ and in the Service of God the Father. It is a call that we can do. It is a call that we can live. But, in order to live out our call we have to get out of the boat. Once we are ou
One day a man went out walking in the woods. He really wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on around him or to where he was. He was just walking aimlessly through the forest. As he walked he came to the edge of a sharp cliff. Like I said, he wasn’t paying much attention to where he was going and he walked off the edge. Now, if you ever watched any of those Saturday morning cartoons where Bugs Bunny or some other such creature walks out onto the air and sees where he is and turns around and walks back, that’s a lie! There isn’t anything out there but down, as our hiker found out. He went down. But, to his surprise, much like some of the old Saturday morning cartoons, there was a big branch sticking out on the side of the cliff. Some how, he managed, as he was falling, to stick a hand out and grab that branch. It must have been a really funny sight; this guy was just hanging there from his branch. He realized that he was in a real bad bind and wouldn’t be able to hang onto the branch indefinitely. He started to yell, “Help! Is anybody out there?” Soon a soft voice from the sky answered him, “Yes, I am here.” The hiker says, “Who are you?” The voice says, “I am God.” The hiker then asks, “Can you help me?” God says, “Yes, I can help you. Let go of the branch.” The hiker hangs there for another minute and then yells, “Help, is there anybody else out there.”
It sounds funny, but that story is far more like us than we care to think. Far too often we are more focused on what we want, or what we think is best than to listen to what God is saying to us and doing what God asks us to do. We spend more time worrying about how things look than about how things are. Way too much of the time we only go through the motions, we really don’t respond out of our faith.
The disciples were on a small boat out in the middle of a lake or a sea or whatever, depending on the translation you read from. The weather started getting rough. I don’t know how many of you have ever been out on the water when the weather turned bad, but it is a frightening experience. I have a hard time imagining how frightening things must have been on that fishing boat.
As the disciples were bouncing around suddenly they see something that their minds know to be impossible, even in good weather. A man was walking toward them on the water. If you are already a bit scared because of the rough seas and now you see this? The disciples knew that they had to be either dreaming or seeing things, or this was something beyond the natural laws of the world around them. That little bit of knowledge would be enough to scare most any of us.
Then Jesus tells them not to be afraid. That statement probably came at least a minute or two too late.
Somehow, Peter, however, even from his fear, manages to say, “Lord, if it is really you, call me out to you on the water.” Jesus then tells him to come and Peter gets out of the boat and begins walking on the water toward Jesus.
That is our first lesson for this morning. It is also the title for the message today, “Get out of the boat.” For our purposes this morning, this is the boat.
Many church buildings, ours included, are shaped like an upside down boat. You might even here it called the “Nave” at times, the Latin word from which we get our word Navy.
We live in a stormy world. The church offers us a bit of refuge from the tossing and bouncing of the world. But, we can’t stay in the boat forever. I think all of us understand that. Sooner or later this message is going to come to an end and we will move on to the conclusion of the service, which will probably make most everybody happy, and we will then go out into that stormy world. By the way, by stormy I don’t mean literally. It is a spiritually stormy world.
But all too often we don’t step out and walk on the water. Instead, we go swimming. We do real well at church. We walk in here on Sunday morning and we walk to our favorite place to sit and pick-up our faith and put it on like it is some kid of life jacket and as long as we are here we wear it. Then, when the last amen is said and we get ready to go home we take that faith off and set it down on the pew and leave. We wear it on Sunday, while we are sitting in the boat, but when we try and walk on the stormy waters for the rest of the week, our faith isn’t a real part of our lives. So we get out of the boat and instead of walking on the water, we either try to swim or we hang onto the side of the boat.