The young mother examined the toy rather dubiously. Finally, she turned to the salesman and said, "Sir, don't you think this toy is a bit complicated for a little child?" The clerk answered: "Madam, this is an educational toy. It is designed to help the child adjust to living in today's world. No matter how the child puts the toy together it is always wrong."
Do you ever have the feeling that your life is like that educational toy? No matter how you try to put the parts together it always comes out wrong. Surely that must have been the case with the disciples of Christ in the gospel lesson for this day. Jesus took them aside and told them to get into the boat and cross the sea. He intended to join them later. In dutiful obedience they set sail. At first everything was fine but then darkness came, the wind began to howl, the waves hammered against the boat and they were terrified.
They were alone and afraid in the darkness of the night adrift on a bottomless sea... and then Jesus came. Let that thought sink in for a moment. Everything was wrong... and then Jesus came. Do you hear these four words? These four words divide all time and eternity. With these words God draws a line in the sand of every soul... and then Jesus came. The lepers gathered on the side of the road. They had been cast out by their families, abandoned by their friends. Alone they cried out in their pain... and then Jesus came. The blind man staggered down the road groping in his world of darkness begging for a morsel to sustain his life... and then Jesus came. The demoniac, a man with a mental illness raged out of control agonizing in his tortured mind... and then Jesus came. The woman taken in adultery cringed on the ground hiding her face. The people in the crowd picked up stones to put her to death... and then Jesus came. The disciples gathered in the upper room hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews... and then Jesus came.
Do you hear? Do you hear the power? Do you hear the story of life being told? He was sick, frightened, alone a victim of aids... and then Jesus came. She was strung out on drugs. Her life was going down the tube... and then Jesus came. The cancer had done its worst, the end was near, fear gripped his heart... and then Jesus came. The operation failed, her husband died. Her life was crumbling before her eyes... and then Jesus came. The burdens were too heavy. The pain was too great. The pills were already in her hand... and then Jesus came.
Do you hear? Do you understand what's being said? The story of your life is being told. Oh, perhaps the details are not the same but the essentials are there. It's the story of your life, your struggle, your hurt, your fear, your anxiety, your pain. It's all there.
Imagine the millions and millions of lives across the centuries which tell the story of pain that suddenly went away, of wrong that was suddenly made right, of the blind that could suddenly see, of the deaf who could hear, of the lame who could walk, of the lepers who were cleansed, of the poor who had good news preached to them. Hear the story and know that the bottom line of every single one is spoken in the four words...and then Jesus came.
There are those who dismiss the story. They say it has no meaning and it lacks credibility because Jesus came to the disciples walking on water. Of course he did. Why not? Jesus walked across time and eternity. He walked through the muck and mire of our sins. He walked through the closed doors of our hardened hearts. He walked through the crumbling walls of our broken lives. He walked through the burning pain of Golgotha and beyond the closed and barred doors of death. Surely, he can walk on water. The incredible part of the story is this; so can you. Jesus invites you to walk on the water with him.
Simon Peter said, "Lord, if it is you, let me come to you." Jesus said, "Come, walk to me." Do you have the courage friend? Do you? You have to do something. Are you going to sit in that boat and ride the waves of fear and doubt and wonder for the rest of you life what would have happened if you only had the courage to step out and walk in the water?
Did you read about the retired man in California? One day he began to tie helium filled balloons to his lawn chair. He wanted to take a ride. After he tied a few balloons to his chair it started to lift off the ground. So he called his neighbors to hold the chair down. He tied on more, forty, fifty, sixty helium filled balloons. While the neighbors were still holding the chair the man strapped himself in and told them, "Let go."
He expected to float up in the air about l0 feet. He had a sharp pointed stick to pop the balloons so that he would come gently back down. They let go and the chair soared up with the man ~ 30 feet, 40 feet, 50 feet ... right on above the house and trees and out of sight. About that time over at the Los Angeles Airport, the air traffic controller received a report. "This is Captain Jones flight 411. I'd like to report that I've just passed a man in a lawn chair at 3,000 feet."
Now the man eventually came down safely. Reporters asked, "Why did you do such a thing?" He gave a great answer. He said, "You have to do something." Friend, you have to do something. You can't sit there in the boat forever. Why? Because the safe place is not in the boat. The safe place is on the sea. Why? Because that's where Jesus is and where Jesus is life is.
Listen friends I am giving you a principle for life. Underline it. Circle it. Mark it in red. Capitalize it. Put an asterisk by it. Remember it. Where Jesus is life is. The right place for you in life is wherever you are, if Jesus is there.
Paul, the apostle on the road to Damascus, was knocked from his horse and left blind. Poor Paul, wrong place, wrong time. No. Right place, right time. Jesus was there.
Lazarus grew sick and died and was buried. Poor Lazarus, wrong place, wrong time. No. Right place, right time. Jesus was there. The thief on the cross had committed every crime and now he was dying for what he had done. Poor thief, wrong place, wrong time. No. Right place, right time. Jesus was there.
Remember that the next time you are in the boat and the wind is howling and the waves are crashing. When you are caught in confusion and anxiety, and you're afraid of the darkness, and the uncertainty of that next step, remember, Jesus said, "I am with you always...come to me."
Don't worry that faith may fail. It did for Simon. He walked for a moment on the water and then he looked down and he began to sink but Jesus was there. He reached out to Simon and took his hand and together side by side they walked across the water to the boat.
Dear friend believe this, when you put your trust in Christ, even when faith fails, He doesn't. His hand is always there for you.
Carla was 28 years old when she died. It was January, 1993. Carla did not have to die. The doctors said, "Carla you have cancer but we think we can cure you with surgery and chemotherapy. But Carla there is one problem, you are pregnant. In order to treat you we must abort the child." Carla said, "No. My child has a right to live." Six months later Carla went into a coma. She was rushed to the hospital. The baby was delivered by cesarean section. The little boy was born three months premature and weighed less than two pounds. Eight hours later Carla died. Little Stephano held on and grew stronger. Today he is three years old.
Carla had a choice. She could have stayed in a safe, secure boat. It must have been so tempting. She saw the wind and the waves, the danger of the deep, the foreboding darkness. But with courage uncommon to human kind, she chose to step out and walk on the waves.
No doubt as the cancer progressed and the pain increased, Carla questioned and wondered and doubted. Perhaps for a moment she started to sink beneath the waves of the bottomless sea. But Jesus was there to take her by the hand and lift her up.
Little Stephano was born and so was Carla. The child to this life, the mother to the eternal life. Both were blessed...and then Jesus came.
Dear friend Jesus will come to you. No matter where you are, no matter how wide the sea. Whether you are adrift in a storm, or locked in the closed room of your worst fear. Or walking in the valley of the shadow of some great loss. Jesus will come to you.
Today Jesus walks on the sea of your greatest pain...your deepest need...His hand out stretched...He beckons you...Do you hear? Do you see? Do you understand?
Will you do it? Will you? Will you step out of the boat? Will you test the ocean of His love? Will you take His hand?
Do it, child of God, do it.
And then Jesus came.