Sunday Sermon 9th August – Acheiving Our Personal Impossible Best

Achieving our impossible personal best!

Matthew 14: 22-33

I believe miracles happen everyday, but I know the impossible will take a little longer. The impossible is what faith achieves and Peter lost some of that when he was out of the boat walking on water.

He had that bravado faith of new young Christians when he got out of the boat, but it failed him when he realised what he was doing. With a bit more faith we can achieve more than we do.

Like an athlete who has achieved a personal best event after event we reach a point when we believe we can’t reach any further. It’s impossible to run any faster, jump any higher or longer or throw any further. Enough is enough, we say. It’s impossible to do more than we’ve done.

I often feel like the athlete who has broken all records to achieve as much as I can and then am expected to do even better. God is now asking us to do what his Son does and he is walking on water. No way! Not today or any other day.

I can’t swim IN water let alone walk ON it. Getting in a boat is scary enough in case it sinks so getting out of it in the middle of a lake is a no-go! Not only that, but the water isn’t even calm: It’s the middle of a storm.

I like calm and gentle. The ‘be stil’l faith of quiet prayer and reflection in which I hear the voice of God reassuring me that everything will be great in the kingdom of heaven. I don’t like this rough stuff with strong winds and big, big waves. I think that’s worse than being hungry and thirsty in the wilderness with the devil tempting me with false promises. At least that’s on dry land.

I’m happy trusting that Jesus will come to me and save me, but there’s a different story unfolding here. I don’t think the first disciples saw it coming at this stage of their faith journey. They just didn’t get it, but now we can see it, we don’t like it. If you are like me you prefer keeping your feet on dry land, not getting them wet with a walk on water.

I don’t even want to get in the boat, but I’ve promised to do what Jesus tells me to do! This time it’s “COME” don’t “WAIT”, other times it is “GO!” not “FOLLOW!” I’ve got to do something if Jesus is to do anything and I remember his mother saying just that at the beginning of his ministry: “Do whatever he tells you,” she told the servants and because they did he turned water into wine. (John 2: 1-11) Last week he was telling US to feed the people and if we give him our little he will turn it into plenty. “Bring what you have to me,” he said and I’m happy to do as he says, especially if it will multiply what we have. Bread and wine served up in two miracles because people did what he told them to do!

We’ve got a metal plaque in the kitchen and the words seem appropriate at this time: “Sometimes, to get what you want the most, you have to do what you want the least!”

That’s a good summary of our faith because church can be like a boat we don’t want to get out of — or even don’t want to get into — but Jesus is calling us to do something we don’t want to do: To step out of where we are and walk with him out of our depth trusting in him.

I’m shouting “I can’t” again, but how do we ever know we can’t unless we try. As a child I was always told, “you can’t”, “you won’t”, “you never will,” until I heard a different voice telling another child, “you can do anything if you try!” That child was created in the image of a Father who knew everything — and trusted what she was told.

Peter is being shaped into a model of the Church to be and his confession of who Jesus is will soon come in Matthew 16: 13-28. With him as our rock the Church will be built, but some people are still in the boat reluctant to step out to attempt the impossible. Like all of us he has doubt and fear, but he is the rock on which good relationship are built. He trusts that Jesus will always be there for him, but not always coming TO him. I hear so many prayers and hymns inviting Jesus to come to us when he is calling us to GO to him.

My prayer for me and us and the Church is: “Lord, if it’s you in the storm please tell me to come to you!” Jesus IS already walking in the storm and invites us to join him. “Come,” he says. We have faith to get out of the boat, but it can fail us when we realise how impossible the challenge is.

When you walk through the storm hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark. Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain. Though your dreams be tossed and blown, walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone. The great anthem of hope.

Our dreams and visions of what our Church will be like will be tossed and blown about — even disappear in the wind or beneath the waves — but what God most needs will be saved by his Son who reaches out to people who dare to walk where he walks. It’s in the trying that you draw closer to Jesus. It’s in that trying that you get to know him better and you will make him better known to the others who remain in the boat. “Truly you are the Son of God,” they say of Jesus.

It only needs one of you to step out of the boat or take church with you into the storm and others will see what we can achieve with Jesus. You will know him better as he saves you from sinking in fear and doubt, but you will also make him better known. The better known he is the stronger our faith in Jesus becomes. Our vision is out of the boat, not in it!

Our vision will perish in a boat that is being overwhelmed by the storm, but we will find new hope as we step out from where we are to meet Jesus where he wants us to be. He called Peter, and he calls us, to walk with him through the storm not sit and wait for the storm to pass. We are to be part of calming the storm with him, rather than waiting for God to bring peace and healing so the Church can step out now to achieve the impossible.

When I drink my tea there is a reminder on my cup with words that say: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass: It’s about learning to dance in the rain. We can attempt the impossible and just get our feet wet or do something foolish and get soaked from head to toe! I can imagine myself dancing in the rain and then going home to dry myself and change my clothes, but Jesus calls us to walk on the water so he can save us and change our lives.

We are called to follow Jesus; to go in the Spirit and to do God’s will — Follow! Go! Do! If we do as he tells us to do he won’t let us sink in the process, but will reach out a hand to save us. Remember what you did before being overwhelmed by waves of fear? You DID get out of the boat with your head held high and walk on the water through the storm. You walked through the wind and the rain with hope in your heart and found you weren’t alone when you began to sink. With a bit more faith we can walk all the way with Jesus.

With a little more faith we won’t doubt that however big the waves we can walk on the water through the storm with Jesus by our side.

Jesus was praying in his calm before the storm having sent his disciples ahead of him when he saw they were in difficulty. We are sent ahead with a mission, but we are never out of sight of Jesus who will come to meet us wherever we are to reassure us in our moments of fear. It’s as if he says, “I sent you ahead so don’t be afraid I will not abandon you!”

He comes toward us where we are, but invites us to leave where we are to meet him where he is. “If that’s you, Lord, doing the impossible in the middle of the storm please call me to do the same with you!” This is the shaping of the Church to come that is built on Peter.

For the disciples following Jesus became more than putting down nets and catching people rather than fish because they were learning how to do the impossible if they did as he told them. They were sent to drive out demons and heal (Matthew 10), but doing that didn’t prepare them for feeding 5,000 or walking on water and greater to come.

I can’t do that,” we say like an athlete who is being asked to jump higher, throw further or run faster, but Jesus is the most amazing coach and will get the best out of us. We’ve achieved our personal best many times before and this is just one more challenge as God shows us that we can do anything if Jesus asks us to do it….

Jesus is walking toward us through the storms we experience so get out of your boat and walk to meet him where he is and you will achieve the impossible…