“Just do it” is a popular slogan you will see emblazoned across many a teenagers T-shirt. Is it really sensible advice however?
As a professional driving instructor, I don’t think I’ll be advising pupils approaching a roundabout to ‘just do it’! Indeed, that would be incredibly stupid! No, I teach them to use their brains and think through what they are doing. A good decision, a safe decision, is one in which the pupil uses the well worn driving acronym: LOOK, ASSESS, DECIDE, ACT. A good decision therefore, is based on having all the information available and giving yourself time. A rushed decision is often a dangerous one!
Of course, a pupil can go to the opposite extreme: taking too long to make the decision whether to go or not – which becomes hesitation and this can cause problems also – not the least irritating other drivers! If though, we mean by: “just do it” not to procrastinate, then I whole-heartedly agree with that. Get a move on!
For example: as a teenager I remember spending all afternoon working up the courage to dive off the top diving board at the swimming pool. No amount of peering over the edge and worrying what it would feel like if i hit the water with a stupendous belly flop helped! All it did was increase the fear! In the end, I did just do it: I closed my eyes and dived – successfully I might add! After that it was easy.
Faith = Risk
In the spiritual realm, many equate faith with acting without thought or without thinking things through. Indeed, I believe the term: “blind faith” is an oxymoron. Yes, faith does involve risk but it is not reckless or blind! In fact, I believe that faith is the clearest form of seeing there is. Faith sees into the unseen realm; as these two scriptures articulate:
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off”
Walking on water.
In Matthew 14, the disciples of Jesus are having a bad day, or more accurately – a sleepless night in a storm tossed boat in the middle of the lake! To further compound their distress, they see a strange distant man walking on the water and logically come to the conclusion – it’s a ghost!
Often, in life we find ourselves in these ‘out of control’ situations’ where like the disciples we are crying out in fear because we don’t understand what’s going on. Often It seems, that Jesus isn’t in our boat ( circumstances) but is out there on the water (very remote); his presence doesn’t seem that real (like a ghost).
The fact is, life, like driving (or diving), cannot be lived without danger or risk. Jesus though, this ghostlike man on the water, basically says: be happy and don’t be afraid. Today that’s what he would say to you and I in any difficult situation that we face.
Is it a ghost?
What is interesting though, is that Peter goes one step further. He basically issues Jesus a test. If it’s really you Lord then ask me to do something impossible and walk on the water like you are doing. I’m not sure I understand the logic of this: if Jesus is a ghost then he’s going to drown! Maybe, he’s pretty certain it’s Jesus and as they are already half-drowned, why not push the boat out a little further – excuse the pun!
Was he one hundred percent sure it was Jesus out there skipping on the waves? No. But, that’s often how faith feels. It’s an inner knowing; a strong hunch. The first step of faith therefore, is to look before you leap! Ask yourself, can you imagine Jesus in these future different circumstances that you think God is calling you to walk into? If you can, in other words you can only succeed through faith and the supernatural ability of Jesus- then it’s probably God!
All through the bible you have these crisis of faith. The Israelites trapped by the Red Sea. A country threatened by a giant. A man thrown in a den of lions. And a messiah who was put to death on a cross to the bewilderment of his disciples.
At some point however, you have to make a decision. Faith is a decision. You have to make a decision to trust. Maybe your driving on the way to the airport and an hour into the journey you can’t remember whether you shut the front door properly. What do you do? Maybe you decide to trust God and carry on? Of course this doesn’t mean you ignore the natural. You might ring your neighbour to make sure for example. Unbelief however, is a decision not to trust God.
Faith without works is dead. In other words, faith that doesn’t result in action is not faith. Peter didn’t talk about it he actually stepped out of the boat onto the water. He was the only man other than Jesus who accomplished this feat! The other disciples, looking on, may have envied Peter, maybe even believed that they could do it too. However, the difference was: they didn’t act. Therefore they didn’t have faith to walk on water.
Just to finish, I wonder if maybe a large proportion of Christians today are sitting in the boat rather than walking out to Jesus on the waves?
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