Summary: The fifth in a six-part series ‘Get Your Feet Wet.’
This morning we begin with this quote from Max Lucado.
(Slide 1) Whether or not storms come, we cannot choose. But where we stare during a storm, that we can. (Source: Max Lucado via twitter.com/MaxLucado, October 12, 2009)
(I think that he has been reading John Ortberg’s book!)
Look at that statement again and let’s read it together. (Congregation reads along.)
Let’s do that again…
I agree with Lucado. We cannot evade the storms of life and fear that come our way, sometimes very unexpectedly. But we can, choose to direct our focus in the midst of them and that is one of the choices that I hope has come through in this series, “Getting Your Feet Wet,” of which this is the fifth of six sermons in this fall series.
We have been examining Matthew 14:22-33, which is Matthew’s account of the disciples encountering Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee during a storm and Peter’s request, (really a command) of Jesus to tell him to come and walk to Him (that is, Jesus) on the water. Our focus this morning is verses 30 and 31:
“But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. “You don’t have much faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” (NLT)
Now, the title of this message is “Progress Not Perfection.” And you might be asking, “Jim, why did you title a message, “Progress Not Perfection,” that deals with a scripture passage in which failure is very evident? How can failure be progress?” I am very glad you asked that question! Hang with me for a few minutes.
(Slide 3) Someone has written, “The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.” The phrase “will never take you” is a statement of the process of journeying. It implies progress on a journey not a full completion of a journey at any given point.
We are on a journey from life to death; from childhood to adulthood; from young to old. But, at a deeper level, we are moving from life to either eternal life or eternal death.
We are also on a journey of faith, from new birth to spiritual maturity; from disbelief to belief; from uncertainty to hope.
We can be on a journey that is regressive as well as progressive… from hope to despair; from lightness to darkness; from faith to disbelief… the choice is ours as to our direction for we never lose that ability to switch directions! (Or switch what we are focused on during the storm)
This tumultuous time in the disciples’ life is a time in which they are experiencing an apparently backward movement. I say apparently, because with a storm and a rocking boat that is taking water, they view the situation as a perilous one. Nothing is going right, right now.
They have witnessed a tremendous miracle in the feeding of the five thousand but they seem, according to Mark’s comments in his gospel account of this situation, to have dismissed it entirely or it has not sunk in yet that Jesus is more than a mesmerizing Rabbi.
But they will…
This episode of their life is just that… an episode. The Encarta Dictionary defines an episode in this way, “an event that is a part of but distinct from a greater whole and that often has specific significance.” These moments of fear are just moments, significant to be sure, but just moments that will form part of their historic memory and vital message of the Christian Gospel in the decades, and for us, centuries ahead.
In other words, this is not going to be the end of the road for the twelve, especially Peter. They are going to survive these moments of fear and uncertainty for it is part of their spiritual journey. Now sometime before they are thrown in to this anxious situation, Jesus makes clear to them something that I think they found hard to swallow and, so do we as well.
(Slide 4) We go to Matthew 5:43 to hear what ‘it’ is:
But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Perfect? Me… to be perfect? You… to be perfect? You have to be kidding!
One of the most interesting things, I recently read about Facebook, one the biggest sites on the Internet, is that when people sign up to become a part of Facebook, they freeze when they get to the box that asks them for their religious views. The article, which appeared in the August 30, 2009 issue of the The Washington Post, contained an interview with 27-year-old Eric Heim that revealed the following about one person’s journey of faith.