Thursday, November 1, 2012

walking on water

Brian K.
Matthew 14:29-14
29 and he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Why did Peter attempt to walk on water? Why did he sink?

I joined the United States Navy despite my absolute terror of water; well maybe not the water itself, but any activity associated with water.  
When I was about nine or ten, my Mom thought it would be “cute” if I and my brother could take swimming lessons. There was a Recreational Center in our neighborhood where my brother and I loved to hang out and watch everyone playing around in the pool. My mother wanted us to learn how to swim. I did not like swimming lessons, but since I am a pleaser, I did my very best in the hopes that it would be over soon.

My swimming instructors took my over- eagerness as a sign that I wanted to advance into intermediate swim and then on to Red Cross Rescue, which I did, but not without my being rescued first. I hated swimming in the deep end and I was not allowed to pass until I could dive from the deep end, touch the bottom of the pool and swim at that level to the shallow. So I walked away from that, my Mom, needless to say was disappointed. I later went to Girl Scout camp, where I had to complete requirements for a Water Safety Badge. Lucky for me the swimming instructor was a kinder and gentler teacher, so I was able to learn to control my fear of the water. She taught us how to “walk” in the water, starting from the shallow to the deep and then swim back. The one thing that gave me confidence was that she was always in the pool with me and she didn’t yell at me.  
When I made the decision to join the Navy; I had heard rumors of a terrifying swim test, but I felt confident that I could pass the test; after all I had finally gotten my Red Cross Rescue Badge. In boot camp, my life was divided into weeks and days, with certain days of the week labeled as “P” for performance day. The dreaded swim test was a P day, and not just that, it was a day that could either see you advancing on to complete Boot Camp or you could go home. I thought about that, I felt that I had endured a lot and didn’t want to go home in shame; my mom would again be so disappointed.

So the objective of the Navy Swim Test was to dive from a high board that simulated the height of Navy ship that was floating in water, so needless to say it was a pretty high board, maybe as high as an Olympic high diving board. The pool was pretty deep too, and there was no shallow end. We had to climb the ladder and walk the plank/or to the end of the board. We would curl our toes at the end of the board, seriously. We would then “cross” our arms around us like a hug, and with the right hand pinch our noses (like when you are baptized), and step off the board in a free fall, feet first into the pool. We had to touch bottom, push and swim up to a designated spot, dog paddle and then flip over on our backs and float to the edge of the pool. This was called the Man Overboard scenario. If a ship was sinking in the middle of the ocean, and to avoid becoming a victim, say like the Titanic, every sailor on board would know where to go and what to do; jump off the ship to save your life and your buddy’s life.   

No problem, right? I froze, and everyone was yelling at me, throwing pool toys, and all of a sudden one of the swim instructors climbed up the ladder, ran across the board, grabbed me and we both fell into the water, needless to say, it didn’t go well. I failed, but I had one more opportunity the next morning at zero-dark thirty. I would have to do it again and hopefully pass. So I reported again to the pool. It was dark, and except for some low lights, the pool area was dark, the water was dark, and kind of spooky. I received my instructions, and I climbed up the ladder and walked the plank to the end of the board, again. There were different instructors in the pool this day. So I took a deep breath before stepping off, I prayed a heartfelt and sincere prayer “Please God, don’t let me drown”. And with that I stepped off.
 What happened in that moment? When closed my eyes I felt nothing but once I splashed down in the pool I felt encircled with an intense warmth that wrapped itself  around me. I didn’t remember anything until I literally “woke up” floating on my back, heading to the edge of the pool, the swim instructor was talking to me and wiping the water from my face, he was happy, I did it. But only by the grace of God, there go I.  
So what motivated Peter to attempt to walk on water? See I feel like that this was not his first time.
replica of ancient fishing boat
Mark 14:22 and straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitude away.
Did you notice that word constrained? What does constrain mean? It means the state of being checked, restricted, or compelled to avoid or perform some action “. Jesus and the disciples had finished up an obviously tiring day that included feeding some 5000 men, women and children with 5 loaves of bread and fishes. The Lord had sent the crowd home, and He would go and pray in the hill area. By the use of the word constrained, this was a planned event and the disciples were to row out across the Sea of Galilee and meet him there.
 Maybe they didn’t want to row out in the coming darkness of night, maybe a storm was forming. Did they argue with Jesus? Did the Savior tell the disciples what he was planning to do; was this a test?
Matthew 14:24-29
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves; for the wind was contrary.
25: And in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, it is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway, Jesus spoke unto them saying, be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord if it be thou; bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And Peter was come down out of the ship; he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
 In 1 Nephi 8, there is a similar lesson. I think that Peter is like Lehi. He wanted to please the Savior; he wanted what the Savior had promised him. He knew he was a “sinful man” and weak, and sometimes prone to not listening or even whining, but I feel that the Savior had made it available for all of his disciples to "walk" pm water.   
1 Nephi 8:5-10
5 And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me.
6 And it came to pass that he spoke unto me and bade me to follow him.
7 And it came to pass that as I followed him, I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste.
8 And after I had traveled for a space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.
9 And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord; I beheld a large and spacious field
10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
 Was the purpose of walking on the water; was it the water itself? Can we find some comparisons with Peter and Lehi and even ourselves? Can you see a pattern here?
1 Nephi 4:6 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand, the things which I should do
Sea of Galilee
In the account of Lehi’s dream in 1 Nephi 8, Lehi is walking across a vast and desolate field, maybe in the desert, and at first a man is walking with him and guiding him and then the man is gone.
Peter steps out from a ship that may be about 7 feet in height, unto the darkness of turbulent waters. His guide is the actual Savior, bidding him to come.

After Lehi has walked a distance in this desolate place, he starts to become anxious and afraid. So too does Peter, can you imagine how dark it is on that water? There is an opaqueness that absorbs all light, and even if there is moonlight, you may still not be able to see anything in front of you. The waves start to crash against him, and he feels like he may lose balance, but how do you balance yourself on water?
Lehi prays and asks for the mercy and loving kindness of the Lord and his reward is to visualize the beautiful tree with the white fruit, which symbolizes the Love of God, and his son Jesus Christ.  Peter calls out for help and is rescued. The reward is still the same, the loving arms of the Savior.

This my second post about Peter, and there will probably be more. What I am learning is that my life and our lives have patterns embedded in them. Every time I remember certain events in my life I am surprised to see how those events have flowed and connected one to another. The Lord teaches us in symbols and patterns, and it seems that our first lesson involves digging deep into ourselves. Unlocking those mysteries first and then we can see where God is in the details. I have the impression that although one purpose of Jesus walking on water was to demonstrate his power as deity, I really believe that this was also for his disciples to help build their faith. Was he preparing them to do those greater things in store? How about you and me, what is the Savior teaching you? What are your learning and how are you applying it?
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