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Lord, Save me! (Mirror, Mirror #7) Notes

Lord, Save me! (Mirror, Mirror #7)
Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor • June 14, 2015 • Rev. Donnell T. Wyche, Executive Pastor

For this series, Mirror, Mirror, The Art of Being Yourself, we are using Simon, who later becomes Peter, as our guide as he reveals to us what it means to trust ourselves with and to God. Simon has a lot to teach us about the art of being yourself.

When Hope is Waning - Upsetting the equilibrium (Oops)
Sometimes we see patterns repeating themselves, and we wonder if anything will ever change for the better. This really challenges our discipleship and faithfulness. How do we persevere in the face of pain, disappointment, and suffering? Where do we find God in the midst of our daily, messy, and sometimes, out of control lives? Is he at work? Absent? Or worse, disinterested?

The story of the people of Israel is the story of a people on the edge of hope. When your options are limited, and you find yourself stuck, overwhelmed, and crying out for help without a clear answer on the way, what do you do? You activate whatever measure of hope and faith you have to keep your head above the crashing waves. For the people of God, there are two basic reactions to painful situations: we cry out to God for help or we cry out to God to right a wrong. After continued prayer, seemingly without answer, out cries often turn to lament. This is acknowledgement that God is wanted and desperately needed to intervene on our behalf. Hear the words of the Psalm.

The Lord is a God who avenges.
O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, Lord, will the wicked,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?
They pour out arrogant words;
all the evildoers are full of boasting.
They crush your people, Lord;
they oppress your inheritance.
They slay the widow and the foreigner;
they murder the fatherless.
They say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob takes no notice.” (Psalm 94:1-7)

Here is where we find Simon, a Jew living under brutal Roman oppression–making the best of the situation he finds himself in oping and waiting for something to change. And it does. They have found God’s Messiah who is here to usher in the return of the King to dwell among his people.

And You Find Yourself Sinking - Analyzing the discrepancy (Ugh)
Peter was selected for this series because we witness a significant unfolding of his story in scripture, the ups and downs. We saw him abandon everything in Matthew 16 to follow Jesus. And now in Matthew 14, we see one of his “downs.”

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:25-30)

Our fears hold us back. When we are living on the edge of hope, they trap us. They invite us to trust our false selves. When we see Peter sinking, we see ourselves. Peter is also living on the edge of hope —  Peter walks towards Jesus hoping he’ll find a God who loves him, cares for him, and instead, he starts to sink. We find ourselves in Peter’s story everyday. Walking toward Jesus with hope and faith, but our lives, our situations, the disappointment, discouragement drags us down, and we find ourselves sinking.

In response, Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid. As you surrender yourself to me, as you consider a new life under my Lordship, there is no need for you to fear.”

As we look at the passage, there are so many details missing. We don’t have the details of how Peter was feeling when he got out of the boat. Why he asked to get out. All of that information would be helpful for us. We don’t find any instructions on what to do when we find ourselves in the midst of the storms of our lives.

Rejoice because Faith Grows as We Sink - Disclosing the clue to resolution (Ugh)
We don’t really know why Peter started to sink — maybe he started focusing on the chaos of the wind, maybe he was worried his shoes were getting wet, maybe he heard his inner critic say, “you’re going to sink!”  It’s possible Peter couldn’t see Jesus at all. This is real life. Sometimes we can see Jesus, and we know what to do. But sometimes, he calls out to us from the uncertainty of life and asks us to leave the safety and comfort of our boats and trust him.

Jesus doesn’t promise us much, but he does say,

“In this life you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

As we read scripture, and we should read it, we will discover that a lot of the stories we read mirror our own stories — they are full of ups and downs, stories of faith and trust, and story after story of doubt.

And Jesus Saves - Experiencing the gospel (Whee)
The waves and wind that produce the storms of our lives are real. “The struggle is real.” As we follow Jesus and become his disciples, inevitably, we will experience the conflict between our faith and our doubt. Faith doesn't save us from storms, trials, tribulations, or suffering. What it does is give us strength to face them. It gives us hope, when despair threatens us. Remember, it's not we who keep the faith. It's the trust in the faithfulness of God that keeps us keeping on.

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:25-30)

To become our true selves, it requires us to trust enough to get out of the boat, to leave behind the security and safety it promises, and follow Jesus into the unknown. We can’t do this with closed hands — check your hands, are they open?

We have a way forward together: through our celebrations and our sufferings. We go forward together, leaving no one behind.

Practical Tip - Anticipating the consequences (Yeah)

Write a psalm of praise or lament.

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