These days in the Christian community we need lots of folks with the courage of Peter. His at this moment of this story is not a great courage, but it is a wise courage. That is, he trusts his limited insight and tests whether what he sees is Jesus by asking him to give him the command that he is familiar with – “Come.” Perhaps he hears the Lord say “get out of the boat and walk on that stormy water – I will give you my power to do so.” That certainly is what he is willing to do. How many of us instead of asking for the truth of the vision in front of us huddle in the boat of the familiar way of doing things – unwilling and too frightened to test the new possibilities suggested by this way of experiencing Christ. There are new challenges, new ways of hearing and following the Spirit of Christ leading us that seem not to be “solid” enough that we are not willing to even try to discern where the Lord is in the event or experience.
Christ’s coming to us will often be in demanding, stretching, challenging ways – calling us out of the false securities within which we huddle in fear – but it at least is a fear we know. But what will we miss? Jeremiah gives us the clue at the end of today’s reading after we have thought about our sin and unworthiness: “When I summon him [or her] that one will approach me; how else should one take the deadly risk of approaching me? Says the Lord.” It is a deadly risk to respond to Jesus’ terrifying call – but what will die is crippling fear, do-nothing obstructionism, failure to grow and flourish, righteous certainty in something from the past that gives me security – in other words the very wounds that the Lord refers to earlier in the reading that have kept us from him.
So my 3:00 or 4:00 AM demon is the voice within me that doesn’t want to take the time to discern whether it is Jesus who calls me to some new and challenging task – the task of loving more deeply, responding more enthusiastically, trying something new and dangerous – and life giving! It is the fear that doesn’t want me to risk even praying to find out what the Spirit calls me to. It is the silent dread that refuses the work of opening my heart and mind to the call to “Come.” God spare me from that voice – or at least give me Peter’s modest faith that tremulously asks “If it is you, command me to come,” that would be enough for me.
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