Friday, April 5, 2013

Walkin' on Water

Walking on Water, Isac Goulart, 2002

I just love Peter's character in the Bible. He's the charge-full-speed-ahead guy, the act-first-think-later guy, the I-know-what-I-believe-and-I'm-not-afraid-to-tell-you-even-if-it-means-I-put-my-foot-in-my-mouth guy.

In a boat full of guys who cried ghost when they saw Jesus walking on the water, he's the "hey,-I-want-to-do-that,-too" guy. So Peter says, "If you're really Jesus, you can make me walk on water, too." (Matt. 14:22-33, Forgive the loose paraphrase.)

Now if that had been me, I would have taken that thought on faith and stayed in the boat, but not Peter.

Jesus answers, "Okay Peter, if you want to walk on the stormy sea, go ahead and hop overboard." And (I love this part) Peter did! Eyes on Jesus, Peter starts to walk on water.

But then Peter takes his eyes off Jesus. (I like to think he's looking over his shoulder yelling "Hey guys, look what I can do!) And in that moment, he catches sight of the turbulent water, feels the whip of the wind. Suddenly a terrible thought occurs to Peter. He realizes that people can't walk on water. As a matter of fact, people have a tendency to sink and drown. Even before the thought had fully formed, waves began to swallow Peter.

Terrified, Peter screams out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus reaches out to catch Peter and says, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

This is the part that's really been rolling around in my mind lately. What did Peter doubt? Was he doubting himself? Of course not. There was no possibility that Peter could walk on water on his own. He was doubting God. He took his eyes off Jesus for one second, just long enough to see how impossible it was for him to take the journey he'd just begun and doubt attacked.

I'm a writer. Sometimes the publishing world seems like a stormy sea. And sending a precious manuscript that you've been working on for years feels a little like jumping overboard on faith that we are somehow going to walk on water.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus, we may even manage to take a few steps. We may even start to think, "Hey I'm pretty good at this writing thing." And that's when we catch sight of the churning sea and remember that people can't walk on water. We really weren't cut out for this writing life and it would have been a lot safer to just stay in the boat.

Whether you're a writer or not I'm sure you've had moments where you cried out to God for help. What did I get myself into? God, I'm in over my head and sinking fast! I've had a lot of what-made-me-think-I-could-do-this moments lately.

I can just see God, as he reaches out to rescue me ... again, shaking his head saying, "Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?" But what I too often fail to realize is I never could do this, or anything else of value, without Him. Self-doubt does not apply. When I doubt, I'm doubting God. There is no room for doubt in faith. They don't fit together. We've got to keep our eyes on Jesus!

I was teaching AWANA the other night and a little girl told me this quote: Don't let the storm tell you how big it is. Instead tell the storm how big God is. I'm not sure who to credit this quote to, but I love it. We've got to keep our eyes on Jesus and tell those waves our God is bigger than anything they can throw at us. 

And then we can walk on water! 

Saying Goodbye

Paul Evan Wood 4/16/1930-4/6/2013

This week we had to say goodbye to Grandpa Wood. It is such a bittersweet time because we know he's rejoicing in Glory, but he leaves a void in our lives that no one else could fill.

Last Christmas, while Grandpa read the Christmas story from the big family Bible with all the extended family gathered around I had the terrible feeling that it was the last year he would be with us for Christmas. At the time, I banished the morbid thought and went on enjoying the day, refusing to believe the warning in my spirit, but still taking extra care to cherish the time we all had together.

Memories take me a few decades to the days when I was young. I remember eating breakfast with Grandpa (unfrosted shredded wheat, but he always let me scoop a spoonful of sugar on mine) while watching the squirrels try to steal birdseed from the bird feeder out the kitchen window. He kept a bird watching book close by and when a bird landed on the feeder, he’d help me find it in his book.

Early on Sunday mornings we’d walk across the parking lot between the parsonage and the church to ring the church bell. The thick, rough bell rope would pull me right up off the ground if I held on tight enough.

Every time we visited he handed out crisp new $2 bills to all the grandkids. I saved mine for 20 years until they were absorbed by my tight newlywed budget. When the grandkids grew up, he handed out golden dollars to the great-grandkids. My three daughters still have a few of theirs in a jar on top of our refrigerator.  

 Visiting Grandpa and Grandma when we lived in South Dakota was so exciting. On the way there we counted stop signs the last half hour of the trip - there were 8 stop signs and we'd get more excited with each one until we finally pulled into the church parking lot. We'd run up the long front walk as fast as our little legs would carry us and Grandpa and Grandma (and Whinnie, the poodle, tail wagging) would meet us at the top with big hugs and kisses. What a way to end a long trip! On the way back home, he’d give me and my brothers each a dollar to spend on a treat at Emma Krumbees. I always chose stick candy, tubes of flavored honey and old fashioned taffy. Candy sticks always make me think of Grandpa.

One time my cousin Ginger and I found some old clothes and wigs in the storage room of the parsonage. We were probably 9 or 10. Grandma helped us dress up in them like little old ladies. We walked over to the church office and pretended to be visitors to the church. Grandpa was so nice. He showed us to the seats in his office and played along with us, inviting us to the Sunday service. He never let on that he knew it was really us. We were absolutely convinced we had fooled him. I wanted to dress up on Sunday too, but Mom wouldn’t let me. I was so worried that Grandpa would get his feelings hurt if the little old ladies didn’t come to the service.

All of this has gotten me thinking about the kind of legacy I want to leave behind, and the legacy that I’m apart of through the patriarch of my amazing family. I’m so thankful to be part of the legacy of a career pastor, an amazing husband, father, grandpa and more importantly a devoted man of God. I can hardly remember Grandpa without remembering his well-worn Bible. He left a legacy of salvation and faith.

Our family has a tradition of singing the doxology after the prayer before we eat together. The simple hymn comes alive with beautiful harmony when we all sing together. It makes me very sad that we will never all be together again here on earth to sing it.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise him all creatures here below,

Praise him above ye heavenly hosts

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


           Grandpa lived this song's message all through his life. Now he’s singing in glory in the presents of our Heavenly Father himself. I trust we will all sing together again when we join him in eternity.

Goodbye Grandpa. You are loved and you'll be remembered.