Monday, June 18, 2012

The Process Is the Point

When I was raising support in 2005 to go to Turkey, the story of Jesus walking on water (Mark 6:45-52) took on new light.  And again I'm at a time in my life when I'm faced with some new opportunities that have set me out "rowing to Galilee."

45  Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I.  Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.  53  When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 
Jesus had told the disciples to go to Bethsaida, where they were to continue their ministry to the poor and afflicted, proclaiming the kingdom of God.  So when the disciples got into the boat, I'm sure they thought that their rowing was all about getting to Bethsaida and what they were going to do there.  How many would Jesus heal?  What new mysteries would he unfold?  But that wasn't even the point.  It wasn't about Bethsaida.

It was about the journey across the Sea of Galilee.  You see, only while they were sent by their Lord in that direction could they be the in place where they would encounter Jesus walking on water.  Only there could they see Jesus in control amid their troubles and difficulties.  And only there could their faith be stretched by fixing their gaze on him and walking out on the water too.

In the end, we see that while Jesus had originally sent them off to Bethsaida, they landed at Gennesaret.  What happened on the way may have ended up changing their trajectory.  Maybe Jesus gave them new directions while out at sea.  But only if they were with Jesus out there could they have known that.

How often does God open one door and give us an opportunity for some kind of service to him or a new avenue in some facet of our lives?  Whether or not we take that opportunity, we're forced with decisions to make--decisions which cause us to search our hearts and desires, search out who God really is for us in this moment, and make a decision in reliance upon his power and grace.  We're not in control, so we never know where we're going to land.  But maybe that doesn't matter much to God anyway.  What he cares about is what's happening in our hearts and our character along the way.  Only when he places us in the circumstances he chooses to reveal himself and to call us out of the boat to him, can we grow the way he wants.

So maybe it's not about whether you'll take a teaching job in Africa, or go to graduate school, or work for a non-profit, or move to Nashville--or whatever decision you're faced with.  It's about what happens within us as we venture into uncertain territory (or stay in a familiar place!) in reliance upon Jesus, as he shows us who he really is for us.

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