I recently returned from a spirit-filled week of worship, conversation and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. It was refreshing and renewing.
When I returned home, reality hit me square in the nose and it was a rough transition back to the real world.
I was catching up on an episode of “The Biggest Loser” and realized that the contestants journey to better physical health could easily be compared to my own journey to improved spiritual health.
They spend months on a ranch, isolated from the real world, disconnected from family and focused on taking care of themselves (body, mind and soul). When they are faced with challenges and temptations in the real world, they either sink or swim and learn valuable life lessons to help them move forward.
Often, when I go to a conference or spiritual retreat, I experience similar changes in my surroundings. It’s a unique place to be, but it’s also an important time to reflect and be filled again, after the world has emptied me of all that I have. And although I am very glad to return to my home, family and friends, the desire to maintain the mountain top faith experience I just had, is quite challenging.
The passage of Jesus walking on the water, or rather Peter starting to sink, comes to mind. Matthew 14:22 and following gives you the whole narrative, is just a piece:
25 “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’
28 ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’
29 ‘Come,’ he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,” he said,“why did you doubt?’
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “’Truly you are the Son of God.’”
There are so many significant details that we can connect to in this passage. But what I see now, is that the world we live in is like being on the boat without Jesus or in the water trying to walk toward him: It’s lonely, scary and feels distant at times.
Peter was pretty bold and Jesus responded. Peter trusted Jesus enough to move out of his comfort zone and do something out of the ordinary. But just like this life, it’s very easy to be distracted by everything around us, even when Jesus is in front of us.
And when Peter began to sink, Jesus responded again with a extended hand. Jesus rescued Peter.
Focused on Jesus, spending time with him without distraction and worshipping him in a special setting is all well and good. It’s refreshing to the soul. But every day isn’t always like that and understanding that is the first step in spiritual recovery.
Although it was a challenge to come back after a mountain high experience, I can still see Jesus ahead of me, extending his hand for me to take hold of. He rescues me everyday.