As women, we have probably spent the majority of our childhood, young adolescent, and even adult years dreaming of the rescue; of being rescued. There is something in us that desires rescue. And even more importantly, that needs it.
A familiar passage of scripture.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” — Matthew 14:22-33
In Shauna Niequist’s latest book, Present over Perfect, she explores this familiar scripture. At one of their worship services, her husband’s spiritual mentor (who is also a Jesuit priest) took the congregation through this exercise. He would take a passage of scripture, read it aloud, and invite them into imagine themselves in the story. What does it smell like? What does it sound like? What do you see around you? What can you taste? Which character in the story are you shadowing as?
Experiencing scripture in this way; in this quiet, still, imaginative, experiential way, allows believers to experience a familiar passage anew. Shauna recalls, like many of us, knowing the story “backwards and forwards” and remembers Peter’s trepidation, when fear took over and he begins to sink, and then receives the scolding from His Savior. Then steps out again– a little longer and further this time — keep going Peter!… and then inevitably, sinks again. And then the scolding. Again.
We feel scolding too. It stings a little each time, even though, we should be used to it by now. And we respond. I know, I know. I will try harder. Focus harder. Study further. Explore more. I promise next time will be different.
But, before Jesus scolds Peter, first he reaches for him. He rescues him.
We oftentimes get this part wrong, don’t we? We picture the fear, the falter, the subsequent failure, the scolding, and then the hand of help offered. Knowing we were not capable of doing it by ourselves.
But, the rescue comes first. When Peter begins to falter, Jesus immediately reaches out a hand before He says a word.
Have we wrongfully been living a life that tries to walk alongside a Jesus that is scolding, disappointed, reprimanding while we are there beside him falling & falling and then, at the last possible moment, grabs us up and saves us?
When you are teaching a child to swim, do you lecture them when they begin to struggle? No! You see them start to flounder and sink, and you reach out. Immediately. You come to their aid. Their rescue. You would scoop them up 100 times, if necessary, until they learned, and our Heavenly Father feels the same way about us. He thrills in the rescue.
A word I have dreamed of my entire life. Fantasized. An idea that has lolled around in my mind and heart since childhood. It’s an action that is inherent and needing deep within our spirit.
Instead, walk alongside a Jesus that has nothing but unconditional and everlasting love pouring from His eyes when He gazes upon you. A man who will rescue and rescue and rescue again. A man who will bring you to safety, despite our fears, failures, and faithlessness.
Today, rest easy, Close your eyes. Inhale. Exhale. And then picture yourself walking out on water. And then picture yourself being rescued.