Faith that Walks on Water – Practical Tip

A NEW YOU FOR THE NEW YEAR – FAITH THAT MOVES MOUNTAINS – SERMON RESOURCES

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ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP

The story formed in the African American church is one of an oppressed people relying on what they had, their faith, to overcome oppression. It a story of overcoming hopelessness with faith. But for many of us, as we start to open ourselves to God, we quickly discover that our biggest obstacle, our internal block, is our deep-seated mistrust. The question that lingers just beneath the surface, demanding an answer is, “Will I be taken care of. Can God be trusted?”

While the culture teaches to place our highest trust in doubt and skepticism, we forget that skepticism is just a tool. Not just for debunking error, but for discovering and accepting what’s actually truth. But faith isn’t found here. Our faith is the sum of skepticism, plus belief and it helps resists our fears.

As Jesus invites us to “come and see,” it will require us to create exquisite balance between our doubts and beliefs. Our realities are limited, God’s are limitless. Our fears hold us back. They trap us. They keep us in the same routines, the same patterns.

Faith doesn’t save us from trials and tribulations. What it does is give us strength to face them. When we learn to live by faith we develop a source of strength and inspiration, hope just like the African American church to keep on treading water, especially in the face of trials and trouble. It’s not we who keep the faith. It’s the faith that keeps us keeping on.

When we find ourselves with the wind (life, mountains) against us and we are in danger of sinking, being overwhelmed by the storms of our lives. Jesus isn’t a ghost of the past. He is the resurrected Son of God, crowned with glory and power, who is present with us. This is who we build on our faith on. He knows suffering, and pain, and knows what it means to overcome. And he is ready to offer grace which sustains as we face the storms of life.

JOIN THE DISCIPLES IN THE BOAT

The practical tip today is based on the story of Jesus walking on the water and Peter in Matt 14:22-32, take some time now to read the story.

As you engage this practical tip acknowledge God’s presence, either take a couple of deep breaths, or use a centering word. Start with one minute of settling yourself. Find a space, get comfortable, take a couple of deep breaths, enter into a space of awareness of your feelings (am I at peace, anxious, feeling guilt, afraid that I am wasting time, or that I need to do something first, am I worried about my job, a fight I had with my partner, am I pleased or displeased).

Imagine the disciples in the boat on the Sea of Galilee (an inland lake large enough to have strong winds and high waves).  You are in the boat with Peter and the other disciples and you suddenly see someone who looks like Jesus approaching the boat on the water. Peter calls out to Jesus and asks for Jesus to give him permission to walk on the water, too.  
  • Can you imagine what it was like for Peter?  
  • Can you imagine what it was like for the other disciples?  
  • Which do you identify with and why?  

Sit with this for a minute or two, inviting God to sit with you while you do this.  

Being willing to walk on water, or to not be willing to, might seem to be a strange question to ponder.  We want to use this odd story to help us be more honest about our own fears, both to ourselves and Jesus.  The way that we suggest doing that today is to take a few minutes and think about what you are most worried about today.  As these fears or anxieties come to mind, write down the two or three which seem to affect you the most.  Take a minute or two to sit with each one, again allowing God to sit with you while you do this.  Imagine Jesus sitting in the room or car with you:  
  • What is your posture with respect to each of these concerns?  
  • Are you impatient, wishing you could do something about it right now?  
  • Do you wish the problem would just go away, that someone else would fix it or stop causing the problem?  
  • Are you angry, afraid, patient, fidgety?  
  • How is Jesus acting as you ponder these issues in his presence?  
  • What posture is he taking? 

Write down a few words which describe your experience with each source of anxiety.  If it seems helpful, go back to your notes later in the week.  Have your feelings toward each fear changed, not changed, is it helpful for God to be more aware of these fears, not helpful, etc.?  Do you have a friend with whom you could share you experience?

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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