When We Fail...

Just over a month has passed since my first tenure as Senior Pastor was cut short at 7 weeks. (At least 7 is a good biblical number!) I am sure that to many who have known me since my journey with Jesus Christ began in 1991 (and those who knew me before that) have asked the question, “So Joe…What was the point?”

During God’s call to leave the “boat” at First Redeemer Church and head into dangerous waters at the Richmond Outreach Center, the Lord affirmed that calling through Matthew 14:22-33.

Matthew 14:22-33 (NLT) 22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Initially the Lord used this passage to affirm the calling, that even though the water was treacherous and red-flags abounded, he was calling my wife and I to trust him, get out of our boat and follow him onto the water. We want nothing more than to be where Jesus is calling us to be. Ever. Period. So, we went.

I had a couple brief thoughts I wanted to share with you about this passage that applies to us, and perhaps may even apply to you:

Jesus sent all the disciples into the lake. They arrived before the storm, but they all experienced the anxiety and fear that accompanied the dark stormy night. What if more of God’s people were willing to walk into difficult situations hoping to bring healing and restoration to God’s church?

While a student in Seminary in the early 2000's, I recall much much discussion among the professors and students to find a healthy church to serve. Doesn't that seem oppositional to Christ’s call to heal the unhealthy, love the sinner, and reconcile the world to himself. We send missionaries around the globe into dangerous, unhealthy countries, but discourage Christians from shining the light of Jesus in unhealthy churches? Rather, we must teach others to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and serve where He leads them…whether the church is healthy or not.

So what was the point of our experience? Look at the end result in Matthew 14:33. It was only after Peter sank that the other disciples worshipped Jesus! The greatest influence we have on others is when our obedience to the Lord causes others to worship Jesus.

We go where he leads us to go. And sink, swim, or walk on the water, the end result can lead others to worship Him. My prayer is that my family, friends, and those believers I have ministered to in the past and the church I will serve as Senior Pastor in the future, will worship Jesus as a result of my obedience. He never abandoned us or left us, rather He has been with us the entire time. His name is great. He continues to be our Great Salvation whether we are in the storm or on the boat.

Worship Jesus with us. Savor redemption and salvation. Marvel in his love for you. Be taken aback by his Holiness...his Soverignty...His power and Glory.

Worship him.

It is ok to sink. There are lots of us floundering around in the sea and crying out to Jesus to save us. Come on in. The water isn't fine- but Jesus is here.

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