Summary: Are you defeated? You can still break out of it

Many years ago, when I was a young Curate I took our Youth Club to Scargill House in the Yorkshire Dales in England. We were sharing the week-end with another Youth Club from Garston in Liverpool under the leadership of another young Curate, a friend of mine called Roy Baker.

On our first full day we were taken out in groups over hills and moorland. We were told that we would meet two particularly difficult hazards - the first was a deep, swift flowing stream which we had to cross using only a single rope.... well, that wasn`t too bad, although some of us got very wet.

Then, as we climbed a slope, we saw two men standing at the edge of a sheer drop of about 100 feet. They pointed down and said, "That`s the way you go". We moved forward and looked over the edge........ it was horrifying! Not just a sheer drop but an overhang too. I was scared stiff, and so was Roy. We let all the youngsters go first, and as we watched them, we became more and more worried. Would we have to back out and lose face?.

When our turn came, I looked at Roy and he looked at me. The two men at the top saw how frightened we were. "We`ll get you down" they said, "Trust us. Trust the rope". I gulped and then edged backwards towards the drop holding the rope very tightly - stupidly I looked between my feet and nearly died. "Oh well, here goes" I thought, and prayed, and over the edge I went - and I SLIPPED! But the rope held me, and slowly but surely I let myself down the rock face! You can imagine how relieved I was when I reached the bottom - and then..... EXHILARATION. SHEER WONDERFUL EXHILARATION. I almost wanted to go back and do it again....... well, almost, but not quite.

But, you see, I`d never have done it, never have gone over except for two things - first the rope, and second the two men at the top. They said they would see me through - and they did. I trusted them - I put my faith in them, and I conquered my fear. Yes, it was exhilarating. But humanly speaking it was beyond me.

There is something quite challenging about an act of faith. Perhaps its frightening when we see it in others and not in ourselves. We find it hard to understand.

When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on water, I wonder if the other Disciples said: "Get back in you fool! Have you taken leave of your senses?"...... and when he began to sink were their doubts confirmed? Humanly speaking Peter shouldn`t have done it..... just as the prostitute shouldn`t have broken open her alabaster box of ointment and poured it over Jesus`s feet. Humanly speaking, it should have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Humanly speaking Albert Schweitzer shouldn`t have buried himself in the African jungle looking after the health of savages, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and thousands of others in Germany shouldn`t have stood out against Hitler, serving a lost cause like Christianity,

if it meant them bringing on themselves the horrors of a concentration camp,

But the fact is they DID - all of them - they took the foolish and stupid step of trusting Jesus - and in doing so transformed a lost cause into VICTORY. That`s what true Christianity is like.

What`s the alternative? The alternative is a religion that never takes risks - a dull, conventional, tame religion which shuns burning enthusiasm like it shuns the plague.......... a religion which achieves nothing, changes nothing... fails to make any impression on a world that is looking for meaning.

Peter, with the storm on his face, cries out "Lord, tell me to come to you walking on the water!".... THAT`S Christianity - it`s a Christianity that is as different from religion as chalk is from cheese.

What inspired this kind of hot enthusiasm? Peter`s story makes it plain.

Peter walked on water - because he loved Jesus, and trusted Him. Men like Peter will do for love what they will never attempt in cold blood.

Mary broke her alabaster box of oitment because she LOVED and TRUSTED Jesus.

Albert Schweitzer buried himself in the jungle because he LOVED and TRUSTED Jesus.

Livingstone died in Africa ..... Dietrich Bonhoeffer died in that Concentration Camp because they LOVED and TRUSTED Jesus - not for a cold dead theory, but because their faith was HOT - warmed with the passion of the LIVING LOVE OF CHRIST.

And when Peter saw that figure walking on water, a startling thought entered his head: "If HE can do it SO CAN I".

Maybe you think that irreverent - NOT AT ALL! - he was showing a great and vital faith in a great and vital fact, that, when we take Christ at His word, we begin to do the things that HE did, and even greater things than these, just as Christ had promised.

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