Footprints On Water

Many men similar to Peter, have walked the earth, men whose brains find difficulty in keeping up with their minds and whose lives are a chiaroscuro of contradictions. Lest we be too hard on him, we should always bear in mind that none have ever joined Jesus in leaving footprints on water. I cannot help but wonder what Simon Johnson (that would have been on his birth certificate) would have said if he heard that he would someday stroll on the same billows that he spent so much time reaping fish from. His quick mouth would have voiced his incredulity no doubt. 

Stroll on the water he did nonetheless and so much more. Once, an angel broke him out of maximum prison without firing a single shot but long before that, Peter had the privilege of being one of three witnesses to some of Jesus’ most spectacular activities such as the resurrection of Jarius’ daughter, the Transfiguration and Jesus’ blood-sweating agony in Gathsemane although he did sleep through some parts of that it. 

Action is never far from Peter’s name in the aptly named Book of Acts. When he wasn’t breaking out of jail, Cephas healed the sick both actively and by his shadow. Ever so often, he found himself speaking with boldness before the Sanhedrin and taking a detour to resurrect the thrifty Dorcas. However, it is hard to hide from the ping ponging that Peter did – swinging to great heights in one moment before falling to great depths in the next. Declaring Jesus as Messiah in one breath, he misunderstood Jesus’ mission in the next exhalation. Once more he slipped from celebrating the salvation of Cornelius to the murky waters of hypocrisy when in trepidation, Peter suddenly stopped eating with the Gentiles when a high powered delegation from headquarters came to investigate. Surely, Jesus could have chosen better.

Choose Peter, Jesus did. Embroiled in sorting fish, Simon found himself called to join a radical rabbi’s happy band. This rabbi promised him not the excitement of skipping on water nor the pain of hearing the most dreadful cock crowing ever but He simply promised that Peter would fish men. Discarded by the prestigious rabbinical schools and consigned to a thankless life at the mercy of the lake’s generosity, Peter found himself in the presence of a Teacher who gazed upon an unsophisticated fisherman but saw only what he could be.

Despite his faults, Peter was always ready to try something new. God can bring about anything in, and through, those who are willing to learn. Peter was a learner. Intrepid in his quest to learn from Jesus, he got out of his safety zone and stood in the water. The message of that story is clear: Jesus is longing to lead us to do “impossible” but that requires us to defy our fear of failure and embrace the possibility of failure while striving for higher goals than our frivolous prayers and unimpressive plans.

Quite sadly, we the church are guilty of painting any mistake as sin. Thus we coalesce around the tried and tested, never venturing too far from the shore lest we make a terrible mistake. Thankfully, God has a grasp of reality that allows for our mistakes. It comes as no shock to Him that we make errors and so He doesn’t call us to keep from making mistakes, rather, he calls us to get up from our falls and learn the lessons we would not have learned otherwise.

Thus, when Peter, crushed by the memory of his denial and returned to fishing, Jesus returned to recall that beautiful morning when a fisherman became a disciple. Peter was called to stand up. He calls us too, albeit without fish roasting on the coals, to step out of our mediocre comfort zones to stroll on the stormy billows of life, leaving our footprints on the water. 

“Feed my lambs,” were Jesus’ words to Peter. Though faltering along the way, Peter lived up to the charge and left two letters for us to read and find nourishment within them. One week done, twelve more to go!

photo credit: sachman75 Sony a7r and Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 at Bungan Beach via photopin (license)

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Teaching God To Forgive

Properly managed, sin is not all that bad. It is God’s hatred of it that we should fear because He hates it so much that He consigns sinners to eternal retributive punishment. Continue reading

A Day With God

Say you opened your front door and found God the Eternal Father standing before you, all smiles in a t-shirt and jeans, ready to spend a whole day with you… how many of your plans would be spoiled? Would you be uncomfortable if He asked to listen to the songs on your playlist? How would you react if he broke into dance with one of your earphones in His ear? Would the people you spend every day with be surprised to hear you speak politely to them? Would the beggar on the street freeze with disbelief after you dropped a coin, then two and a note into his plate?

Surely it wouldn’t be long before you relaxed and became yourself with breath finally caught and shoulders lowered. Those questions lingering in the back of your mind would break forth, catapulting off your tongue in rapid succession. Why me, why am I here? Why the family I was born into? Why did you let that loved one die? Why, oh why, is this world full of pain and suffering if you’re so loving? How deep your shock would be if instead of replying you, His shoulders shook with sobs of pain; pain you couldn’t hope to fathom because, as He would explain between sobs, only He knows the full glory of the destiny He would lead us to if only we stopped struggling.

At that very moment, your shopping list prayers would fall away as you looked at God in a different light. No longer would He be a mechanical celestial vending machine demanding presumptuous prayers in order to pop out whatever selfish treat you wanted but a loving Father longing for a hug from you, waiting anxiously for your face to light up at the sight or mere thought of Him. You would marvel at the willingness of an infinitely powerful God to be vulnerable with His creation, at the incredible courage involved in creating beings with the ability to reject Him. How petty your power games would seem then!

Overcome with emotion, the stark reality of your brokenness would squeeze your chest and pull a tear down your cheek. A new question would linger on your tongue, unsure if you would like the answer: “Why did a God like this bother hanging out with me? Was this visit a prelude to a break up? Did He come to tell me that He’d had enough of me?” Surprised, you’d feel His hand grip yours with a little squeeze. Yes, God would put His arm around your shoulder and say,

“Hey, would you want to talk about why you feel the need to be in control all the time? There’s no need to fear Me. There’s no need to fear anything, you and Me, we got this.” What a chat that would be! There’s no need to imagine either, God the Holy Spirit, comes to you every morning, longing to spend the day with you, guiding you every step of the way.

photo credit: micagoto What will happen when we reach the ocean, dad? via photopin (license)

True Prayer Blows Off Fig Leaves

We all attempt to cover our nakedness with Adam and Eve’s leafy aprons (Genesis 3). Deep within is the realisation that something is horribly wrong, something is amiss. Our lives are filled with frenzied attempts to silence this realisation. Continue reading

Somebody Unshackle The Church Please!

You know you’re talking to a Zimbabwean if one of the first things they want to know about you is what church you attend. In my city, Bulawayo, churches have sprung up in the ruins of abandoned factories, drowning out the screaming silence of derelict machinery with mirthful praise and upraised hands with bangle-laden wrists Continue reading

Righteousness: Whip or Mindset?

Here’s the challenge: collapse the whole book of Galatians into one bite-sized sentence. How would you go about it? A lot of people (especially Seventh-day Adventists) steer clear of this book for various reasons, not least of which would be the disparaging comments it makes about the Law. Continue reading