Stepping Out in Faith
By Beth Demme
Has anyone ever told you to take a leap of faith? It can sound irrational, even dangerous. For example, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, one of the last challenges Indy faces as he searches for The Holy Grail is a “leap of faith” across a deep chasm. When he steps out into the chasm we expect him to fall to his death, but <cue the trumpets!> his foot lands on a hidden stone bridge. At that point in the movie, Indy smiles in his charming, knowing way and dashes across the bridge to victory. (Watch it here.)
In the Gospel of Matthew, the Apostle Peter also steps out in faith. Peter and the disciples are on the Sea of Galilee. They see a figure walking towards them. They think it’s a ghost, but Jesus reassures them saying, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Wonderful, impulsive Peter says, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says, “Come.” Peter gets out of the boat and begins walking on the water.
Peter walked on water not because he had faith in his own ability, but because he had faith in Jesus.
All is well until Peter notices the strong wind. He gets scared and begins to sink. He cries out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reaches out his hand and catches him. Jesus escorts Peter into the boat, at which point the wind stops.
Peter stepped out in faith, and into faith until life got stormy.
I can relate to Peter. It’s exhilarating to step out in faith and walk toward Jesus. Nothing is better than those moments when I know, without a doubt, that God is with me. Moments when the path in front of me seems impossible, and yet I have a peace that passes all understanding.
When I can’t see the path, I’m driven to pray, pray, pray. My prayer sounds something like, “Jesus, if it is you, show me how to come to you.”
I step out in faith and all is well until I notice the storms around me. Life is stormy, isn’t it? Even if we aren’t personally in the midst of thunder and lightning, chances are good we love someone who is. We see the generation before us fade and the generation after us struggle. Whether it’s money, health, relationships, or even politics, the storms of life are real.
The storms can distract me from the truth that I am loved by God.
This love makes stepping out in faith possible. I step out of the boat (or into the chasm) because if like Peter, I start to sink, I can cry out and God will save me.
In Romans 10, Paul says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The Message, a paraphrase translation by Pastor Eugene Peterson, says it this way: “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it. … Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.”
When we love God with our heart and soul, we, too, can step out in faith.
Peter didn’t have faith in the circumstances. He didn’t have faith in his ability to walk on water. He got out of that boat because he knew, and lived, Deuteronomy 6, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.”
I want to live with that kind of faith, too. Heart and soul faith. To that end, I have found this prayer very helpful. It’s written by Thomas Merton, a 20th-century Catholic monk. If you find yourself wanting to step out in faith, but pausing or stumbling, you may find it helpful, too.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain
where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that
I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that
desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the
right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I
will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the
shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and
You will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen.
Merton’s prayer helps me acknowledge that when I step out in faith, it’s all about God, not me. Stepping out in faith isn’t about having faith in myself, my ability to pick the right path, or even my ability to please God. Instead, stepping out in faith is all about knowing God will save me if I begin to sink.
What about you? How have you stepped out in faith recently? Does Merton’s prayer express your feelings? Do you feel like Indiana Jones with a vast chasm in front of you? How can I be in prayer with you today? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.
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