For some reason, I’ve been having the worst time trying to get my thoughts out as words on my screen lately. It seems like every time I set aside some time to write, I hit all kinds of walls. Not sure what that’s about, but it’s kind of frustrating. So this morning, I didn’t try to write. Instead, I read.
After a conversation with a friend about life, transition and fear last night, I woke up this morning praying for them and reading the account in Matthew 14 where Jesus called Peter to step out of the boat and walk on water.
On one hand the story starts in verse 22 when Jesus told the disciples to go get in the boat and go “to the other side.” However, greater context would reveal that this happened immediately after one of Jesus’ greatest miracles, where he fed the multitudes with just 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Right after Jesus’ boys witnessed and experienced this amazing display of His power and provision, He told them to go somewhere else. It’s important for me to understand that they didn’t just witness this happen, but I’m sure they got them a fish sandwich, too. Yes they saw, but they also ate. Part of what He did hit their eyes, part of it hit their belly. Part of it encouraged them, part of it nourished them. Then Jesus said, “go”, while He went somewhere else.
In verse 22 He tells them to go, but by verse 24 we find the disciples in the boat “a long way from the land, beaten by the waves.” Yeah, in the span of 2 verses. Verse 23 tells us that after Jesus dismissed the crowds, He went to pray in the mountains, alone. But what it DOESN’T tell us is the progression from the disciples first stepping in the boat to “a long way from the land.” Next thing we know, it’s all “beaten by the waves!”
With how my mind works and processes context and story, I can’t help but wonder: what happened in the middle? When did the water first start to get choppy? Did they think, “sho’ do wish we could go back and have another fish sandwich!”? What was their response as the storm escalated? Did they wonder where Jesus was? Did they think He had left them? Did they feel abandoned? Sure, they had just seen Jesus, and were sure they would see Him again, but where was He right now… in the middle?
Of course we all know the part of the story where Jesus finally did appear and called for Peter to step out of the boat and come to him, which would mean walking on water. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how Peter was so brave for stepping out of the boat while all those other jokers sat there, and how the boat represents a place of comfort and that Peter was the only one willing to risk his comfort to pursue Jesus in that moment. I think there’s some validity to some of that, but let’s be honest here… there was a freaking storm happening! The boat was ANYTHING but comfortable.
I’m more inclined to see the shore as the place of comfort in this story. Sure, there was a vital lesson in faith and trust learned in the midst of the storm, but I wonder if we miss understanding that Peter could have never walked on stormy waters while still on the shore. The boat brought him to a moment and positioned him to experience a greater level of trust in Jesus. He had no clue what would happen next, only that he heard and saw Jesus. I have come to understand how God works and shapes our heart in the space between… the space between miracles… the space between shores… the space between life seasons… the space between answers… the space between what you know and where you’ll go.
I have experienced this first hand many times in my life.
In those “space between” moments, I have often been afraid, but I have never been unchanged.
As I have previously observed about transitions, they are often uncertain and exhausting, breathless and exhilarating all at the same time. I believe the fear that we often fight is actually meant to be fuel for our faith. The space between may find you reaching and wondering, hoping and grasping, but it will never leave you the same.
What have you learned in the “space between” times in your life?