The Jesus Lizard has earned its name through its ability to run across the top of the water. Proportionally, if humans could run as fast as the Jesus Lizard, we would run a blazing 70 mph! If we could just reach those speeds, we could literally run across the surface of the water! Alas, running that fast is impossible. There is a terminal velocity in every aspect of life; a point at which you cannot go any faster, harder, or further. You cannot “do” anymore and remain effective. Occasionally, we find ourselves trying to do more when we should be doing less. I remember times in my own life when, though I responded to a calling, i found myself suffering, panicking, and gasping for breath. My response was to work even harder, only to find myself sinking still. Looking back, each time I was depending on my own abilities/gifts/experience/education. I was drowning in the ministry I was called to because it was about me and not about Jesus. What I did would determine the success or failure of the ministry. After all, it is my job. That trap is easy to fall into. We want to serve. We want to do. However, “doing” without “trusting”, leads to sinking. Marriages suffer, families suffer, health suffers, ministries suffer, all in the name of trying to I do more and more, thinking it will fix the problem.
I often imagine what it was like for Peter in those first few moments, after sliding over the side of the wooden ship. How long did he stare at the dark waters swirling below him before resting his weight on it? As he inched across the surface of the water toward Jesus, was the water hard or soft beneath his feet? Was it slippery? One thing we can be sure of, he was scared. Even before he saw the waves approaching out of the corner of his eye, you know he was terrified. There was quite a bit of uncertainty as my family and I crossed the Georgia state line back in August of 2014. The 2014 camp season at The Salvation Army Camp Paradise Valley had just ended, and we found ourselves on another adventure to a new town, new relationships, and new jobs. Above all of Peter’s fears, he trusted his friend, Jesus. I desperately want to be better at trusting Jesus when he asks me to do something completely crazy. I have gotten better at it. Not because I have improved somehow, but because God is faithful. The truth is, in that fearful place, eyes locked onto Jesus, Peter was in the safest place he could be. No matter how tall the waves swelled, or intense the lightning, Peter was safe because his ability to stand above the waves was being found in Jesus, not himself.
Peter wasn’t called to sink, and neither are we. Christ has called us to himself. When Peter took his eyes off of Christ is when he started sinking, and then he cried out for Jesus to save the day. Now, I’m not saying God won’t do that. Peter called out to Jesus, and Jesus IMMEDIATELY reached out to save Peter. However, if Peter were to walk on the water again without keeping his eyes on Jesus, he would again find himself sinking in the waves. You see, Peter’s ability to walk on the water was just as dependent on Jesus as his being saved from sinking in it. All too often, God is given the task of saving the day rather than sustaining it.