Summary: My wife and I have a four-year-old son named Stephen. As with most four-year-olds, Stephen knows no fear. His philosophy is: why walk when you can run, why stand when you can climb?
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My wife and I have a four-year-old son named Stephen. As with most four-year-olds, Stephen knows no fear. His philosophy is: why walk when you can run, why stand when you can climb? He is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a childproof safety seal, able to leap tall cabinets at a single bound.
The amazing thing about being that age is that you don’t know what you can’t do – I suppose that’s one reason God gave us parents. It’s only as we grow older, as we’ve experienced some of life’s challenges, that we come to the realization that we have limits; that we have to be reasonable about things because we can’t do just anything. You don’t want to be reckless, after all.
So the other morning as I was reading a devotional book by Oswald Chambers, I was surprised to see he used the word “recklessness” in connection with our walk with Christ. Why would a respected Christian writer tell us to be reckless? Look with me at the passage of scripture that prompted his comment, which you’ll find in Matthew 14:22-33.
As far as I know, my dad had never even been on a small boat in his life. He’s certainly never owned a boat in his life, but some time after he turned 60, he went out and bought a boat. I’ve been told the two greatest days in a boat-owner’s life are the day he buys it and the day he sells it! He hasn’t sold his boat yet, so we still get to enjoy it on the St. Johns River when we visit.
But there is one thing I’ve never been tempted to do when we are out on the boat with my dad: I’ve never been tempted to step out of the boat onto the water. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but even on a beautiful and calm spring day that thought just hasn’t crossed my mind.
But here, on a dark and stormy night, Peter does something reckless – he steps out of that boat to go to Jesus. And in this remarkable story, Peter demonstrates what reckless obedience is all about.
Reckless obedience is following Christ no matter what – no matter where you are, who you’re with, what you’re doing, no matter what the cost. Reckless obedience steps out of the boat when Jesus calls.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that reckless obedience is the path to life’s greatest satisfaction and accomplishment. More than that, when we learn to live a life of reckless obedience for Christ, we will find ourselves used of God to accomplish incredible things for His Kingdom.
So how do we live in reckless obedience? One of the first challenges we find in this text is to:
Expect great things of God
Jesus has been ministering to the crowds – teaching, healing the sick, and just before this he miraculously fed 5,000 people from five loaves and two fishes. Now He has sent the disciples on ahead in the boat, and He spends several hours alone in prayer, renewing His spirit and preparing for what is still ahead. (Every time I think I don’t have time to pray, I need to read this and remind myself I don’t have time not to pray. If Jesus needed the renewal and strength that comes from time alone with God, I suspect you and I can use it far more.)
Meanwhile, back in the boat, it’s rough going. They should have already been across, but they’ve been caught in a storm, and the driving wind is keeping them from making progress. Finally, at the fourth watch – which is between 3:00 am and 6:00 am in the morning – Jesus comes out to join them on the boat. Of course, He takes a shortcut – straight across the water.
The disciples are tired and weary – they’ve been fighting the wind and waves for hours now – and suddenly they see a shadowy figure coming toward them across the water. Immediately they are seized with fear that it is a ghost, an evil spirit. But Jesus seeks to calm them as He calls out, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
There’s an interesting thing to note here about what Jesus said to them. That phrase translated “It is I” in most of our Bibles, is literally the statement, “I am.” So what Jesus was saying was “Take courage. I am.” Why is that significant? If you look at Exodus 3:14, as Moses meets God at the burning bush, God tells Moses His name: “I am who I am.” And he tells Moses to tell Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”