It was a Saturday night. And Mike Fisher and Tom Wilson got into a fight. And I didn’t see it.
If you’ve ever had a wake up call during a hockey game that you weren’t watching because Tom Wilson was pummeling Mr. Carrie Underwood, you and I are probably cut from the same cloth. If you’re dumbfounded and a bit appalled by what I’m saying, you’re probably cut from saner material. Please bear with me anyway.
(Also. Those are hockey players. Just in case you were that lost. Go Caps.)
You know when Peter walks on water?
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning[a] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![b]”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.30 But when he saw the strong[c] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,”Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed. (Matthew 14)
Do you ever wonder about the other disciples? I often wonder if it ever hit them square between the eyes that while Peter walked on water, they sat in a boat? That they were spectators to a miracle, not participants?
And it occurs to me that the difference between Peter and the rest of them is that one of them got out of the boat and the others simply did not.
At some point recently, I think I stopped participating. I was content in the boat, so to speak. I watched others walk on water and it didn’t even occur to me that I was choosing not to participate.
(If you are wondering, “HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO A HOCKEY FIGHT?” Bless your heart. And mine.)
Here is the thing. I love hockey. I mean, I LOVE hockey. Mostly, I love the Washington Capitals. I used to go to Caps games quite a lot. And if I wasn’t there, I would watch it on TV. But now I can get text updates, and watch the highlights on my phone later, and obsessively reload the Sportacular app, follow along on Instagram, and follow along on Twitter, so it’s almost like it doesn’t matter if I’m actually watching the game or not. I can know what happens whether I watched or not.
While this connection might not be apparent to most people, as I sat there not watching the Caps play the Predators, I began to feel like not watching the game was an overarching theme in my recent life. Sitting sideline to my passions. Removing myself from the things I love. Some times so far removed, I wasn’t even watching them.
I wouldn’t have been one of the disciples in the boat watching it play out, I’d be a disciple at home who heard the story second hand later.
I wasn’t playing the game. I wasn’t even watching the game. I was so far removed from participating that I couldn’t even be called a “bystander”.
I don’t want to be a hockey fight, that’s not my point at all.
My point is that I don’t want to be so content to a be a bystander to my own passions that I miss engaging in my own passions.
Am I making any sense at all?
I believe so strongly that the Lord designed us with purpose and passion and that designed us to engage. To get out of the boat, to play the game, to watch it all unfold and stand awe struck by what He is unfolding.
Life is hard. The feels are hard. And if you get knocked one too many times it can be easier to stand on the shore or stay in the boat and consider where you’re at close enough to the action – no need to risk going all in. No need to risk the sinking. No need to risk other’s remembering the miracle you were a part of, by the moment you failed.
Peter sort of gets a bad rap for the way the whole day plays out. Because he begins to sink. And while we might usually refer to the account as, “Peter walks on water”, the whole ordeal is more noted for when he began to sink.
But you know what pierces me to my core? 12 guys in a boat, only one of them walked on water.
I’m pretty sure I’d rather be the guy who got to walk on water than any one of the 11 guys that never even got out of the boat.
This plays out in some obvious ways.
“Why do I not participate in that ministry anymore?” “How come I don’t spend time with this person anymore?” Obvious things we bow out of, things we stop participating in and we don’t exactly know why, but if we had to pin a reason down, it’d probably start and end with fear.
But other ways are more subtle.
I spoke at a handful of events this Christmas season. It was such an honor. Such an honor.
One event in particular I really felt like I threw my heart and soul into. So I was a bit perplexed when, after I shared my message, a trusted friend said, “That was great. Beautiful. But I’m left wondering how all that hit your heart.”
As I turned her question over and over and over, I realized I had fooled myself into thinking if I engaged, if I got into the boat, but left my heart on the shore, that I had engaged enough. That somehow the part I was holding back didn’t matter.
I can’t help but wonder if that is the difference between Peter and the other 11 guys that showed up that day. Only one guy went all in with his whole heart.
I don’t want to be content half-in. I want to be all in. Running head-strong and heart-full off the shore, out of boats and across the impossible in order to be closer to my Savior.
All in. With my whole heart.