I’m getting ready for an extended vacation, so I may not post anything for the next month or so. I’m also posting some bonus material related to my previous post, rather than moving on to a new thought. So here it is…
I am 100% convinced that our God is a safe God. Our God loves us intensely. John 3:16 He loved the world enough to send his only Son to die for us. 1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. We are safe with God, but God doesn’t call us to safety.
God calls us to transform our lives. To make dramatic changes. To differentiate ourselves from those around us. We’re to leave the kingdom of this world and live as pilgrims within it. Romans 12:2 Do not be conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. God calls us to a better life, but not necessarily a safer life.
I’ll give you an example of a man who played it safe. His master gave him a bag of gold. In the time of Jesus they called it a talent of gold. Then the master left on a journey. A good while later he returns from his travels, and asks for his money back. The servant replies that he played it safe. He buried it. And he’s happy to return it to his master. But his master is furious. He’s not invested the money. He’s not used the money. He’s not increased his master’s wealth. He took no risks. He received no return on investment. And now the master has no reward for him. (Matt 25:14ff)
I initially presented this bonus material at a workshop where I had been allocated a text from John 11. In John 11 Jesus’ friend Lazarus has died. Jesus arrives at the home of his friend after Lazarus has already been buried for four days and the Bible tells us that “he stinketh” (KJV). Jesus has such faith that even a decaying corpse doesn’t make him lose focus. We see his faith in v41 because before anything has happened Jesus prays, “Father I thank you that you have heard me.” The in v43 Jesus calls in loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out.” Jesus never lost sight of what God is able to accomplish even in a seemingly hopeless situation.
Ok, that’s a crazy, amazing, incredible story. But here’s a lesson. When God speaks, even the dead jump. God calls us to action. The question for us, is how will we respond to his call? How will we move when God calls us to work? I’ve already told you, we have some choices. Fear… or Faith? Faith… or Foolishness?
In all this conversation about faith, it’s important to remember who we have faith in. I certainly don’t have faith in myself. It’s my weaknesses and struggles that make it necessary to have faith in someone else to guide my life. It’s not my all-knowing cell phone, or some tv personality… It’s not even a preacher or teacher who’s influenced me. My faith is in God.
My faith is in a God who could send a storm, and then arrange for a fish to swallow Jonah and somehow preserve his life. My faith is in a God who could sleep in a boat through a storm and then at his word calm the storm. My faith is in a God who can not only walk on water, but can allow the apostle Peter to walk on water. My faith is in a God who can and will raise the dead.
This is the God who calls me. This is the God I follow. This is the God I have faith will get me to the end, the God who will never leave me nor forsake me. The God who will be with me to the end of the age. This is the God who calls me to forsake safety and by faith accept the uncertainty of following Him.
But when we encounter storms, or even when our faith gives out, we’re still not alone. Jesus is there to pick us up. Peter acted in faith and for a moment he walked on water. Then even when we sink, Jesus reaches out his hand and catches us.
I think that’s one of the most poignant images of this series. We succeed when we act in faith. Peter up to his neck in water, was more successful than the other 11 still sitting in the boat. The image of Jesus extending his hand to Peter conveys compassion, stability, strength, peace and assurance. When we live by faith, Jesus ensures we’ll never find ourselves in over our heads.