Today’s scripture readings are an interesting mix. In Jeremiah, God describes the punishment He has given out to the Israelites for their great guilt and numerous sins. Then God describes how He will restore and rebuild Israel and states that: “You shall be my people, and I will be your God.” A story of human rebellion and God’s promise of reconciliation and healing. The psalmist proclaims, “The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.” And in Matthew, we have the story of Jesus walking on the water.
When I first read through today’s readings, I didn’t see any connection at first. Later it jumped out at me. As I write this, the world seems to be in violent chaos. Media images pour in of the war raging in the Middle East. Bombs and rockets killing innocents left and right. Suicide bombers striking on a daily basis. It’s easy to surrender to cynicism and simply say, the world stinks. The world stinks and there is nothing I can do about it. The world is in a downward cycle of violence. Anger and hatred have become the norm. Compromise, love or civility are simply signs of weakness. And after all, I’m only one person and a very imperfect one at that. The world needs a savior and I am not it. I cannot walk on water. Or can I? Can I be an ambassador for the Prince of Peace?
In the story from Matthew, Peter walks on water. How is it that Christ chose Peter? Did God find someone with special feet? Did Christ say I need someone with wealth, a great communicator, a religious scholar, a proven leader? No. Christ chose a hot-headed fisherman. And what did it take for Peter to walk on water? Was Peter perfectly in tune with God’s will? Was he experienced in meditation? Was he a student or scholar of scripture? Was he perfect? No. He was a flawed, imperfect, doubting, confused, searching human being. Just like me. He heard Christ’s command and, in faith, he obeyed. To walk on water he had to step out of the boat. God does not look for the person with the perfect skill set for the job. God wants a willing and faithful and loving heart. God can supply the divine power to compensate for my human weakness. So, what do I need to do to obey God? How do I do God’s will? How can I be an ambassador for Christ?
We recently took a vacation and camped in Manitoba, Canada. Some people warned me that no one likes Americans right now. We would be treated like “ugly Americans” they warned. Though Manitoba was beautiful, the thing I will take away from the vacation is the kindness of the people. A young lady telling us to follow her when we were lost in Winnipeg. People welcoming us and offering suggestions on what to see. My 17 year old exclaiming how hungry he was and a stranger offering him a donut. I’m a firm believer that little things can make a big difference. If you don’t believe this, try sleeping in a tent with a mosquito on the loose. I believe in the ripple effect. A small pebble tossed in a pond makes a wave that touches every part of the shore. This is how we can serve God. This is how we can be ambassadors for Christ. Even though our lights are small and imperfect, they can still light up the darkness. As followers of Christ we can make a difference. My prayer today is for the courage to obey, step out of the boat and shine my light into a dark world.
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