It’s Time to Get Out of the Boat
by Amy Schmitz Ruiz
“For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, His Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control.” –2 Timothy 1:7
Over the past few weeks in my mom’s Bible study, we have been reading John Ortberg’s book, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat. It’s based on the story in Matthew 14 of Jesus heading out to His disciples during a storm by walking on the water. All the disciples are afraid, and only Peter speaks up, saying “Lord, if it is really you, order me to come out on the water to you” (vs. 28). After Jesus tells Peter to come, he actually gets out of the boat and becomes the only ordinary human to ever defy the laws of nature and walk on water. We often hear about Peter’s failure and how he quickly began to sink after taking his eyes off Jesus, but the truth is that he was the only disciple with enough faith to experience the thrill of water-walking. In Ortberg’s book, he uses that story to challenge his readers to overcome fear and the desire to stay comfortable; to instead take the great risk of ‘getting out of the boat’ by following Jesus into experiences that will be difficult but amazing.
I’m thankful for the water-walking times in my life, such as when I headed into the jungles of Papua New Guinea to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators…or when I went with a team of black and white teachers to teach in the classrooms in South Africa soon after the apartheid ended to lead racial reconciliation…or saying yes to working in inner-city San Diego as a missionary…or spending over nine years of my life as a missionary in Honduras. I’ve accumulated countless stories of God’s faithfulness and experienced the thrills of watching miracles take place before my eyes, and yet through this current study, I keep finding myself in fear of the next boat God wants me to step out from. It makes me stop to wonder why a seasoned Christian with so many faith-building experiences is still afraid as feelings of inadequacy, weakness, and unworthiness sneak in.
Maybe you too find yourself in that boat of self-doubt and fear. We are not alone in this. Moses felt ill-equipped; Gideon felt weak and inadequate; Jeremiah thought he was too young; the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his terminally-ill servant felt unworthy; Esther was afraid. The list goes on as we see people of great faith encountering great fears and obstacles over and over again.
Amid the struggle, God’s Word comes with a great reminder that we are not alone. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul encourages Timothy, “For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, His Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control.” His Spirit lives in us! His Spirit empowers us! We aren’t expected to get out of the boat or walk on water in our own power.
I wish I could stop being fearful altogether, but like Peter, those doubts come in and the sinking begins. Thank God for Jesus who can pull us up, keep us from drowning, and empower us to do His Kingdom work. I desire to do some more water-walking even if it is scary to get out there, and I hope you will join me.
Dear God, Thank You for Your Spirit that overcomes our fears. May we be filled with Your power, love, and self-control to be used mightily for your Kingdom and our good. Amen!
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