Dare to Go

Chuck Allen // @achuckallen // chuck@sugarhillchurch.com

Matthew 14:22-33

When I was a kid – maybe 10-11 years old, my mom and dad thought it would be a great idea for me to attend a Boy’s Club Camp…You know, the kind that you go away and spend the night in cabins and do cool stuff all day? Right – that kinda camp. Me and about 100 others boys about me age.

At this camp was a trail that you hiked, which at the time seemed like 100 miles, but was probably about a mile. When you got to the end of the hike, there was a small lake and a place deep enough to jump off a rock about 20ft in the air. Mind you, at about 10 years old…we all talked like we were those cliff divers we used to watch on Saturday afternoon on Wide World of Sports!

So, as we hiked through the woods, we told one another how we were going to jump off that cliff. It was a different story when you stood on the ledge. From the water, the jump looked like so much fun, but from the cliff, the water looked so far away. I remember thinking…this does not look safe and everything in me said DON’T DO THIS!

A couple of guys backed out, then one took the plunge. The water was so far away, that when he jumped out he screamed, ran out of air in his lungs, took a breath and started to scream again, before he hit the water.

Then came my turn. My stomach was churning, my legs felt like rubber, and my mind kept telling me to back out. But, I wanted to jump. I wanted to feel the free fall into the water below, and besides there was all those other guys waiting waiting to make my life miserable on the hike back. So I swallowed my fear and leapt those seemingly 100 feet to the water.

I learned a great lesson that day. Sometimes we have to face our fears, embrace the adventure, and take the plunge in Daring Faith! But what holds us back from risking it all? How do we overcome our fears? What do we do when we doubt that the new chapter of life God is writing is for us? How do we keep our eyes focused on the goal when everything is trying to distract us?

Peter helps us answer those questions as he jumps – not off a cliff, but out of a boat.

In Matthew’s Gospel, we read about Peter walking on the water, and if we look closely enough we may just discover the courage to follow his example.

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 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.

I love Peter because he reminds me of me. He is quick to act, often without thinking. He shoots off his mouth when prudence may be the better choice. Peter understands failure. After all, he denied Jesus. He experiences the healing of forgiveness, and he has the joy of being used greatly by God on the day of Pentecost. Peter preaches the sermon that leads 5,000 people to join the church.

When it comes to Peter walking on the water, I’ve heard preachers lay down some smack as a result of his lack of faith. It’s true, Jesus does call Peter a man of little faith, but what about the other 11 guys? None of them got out of the boat. If Peter had little faith, then they had none.

It’s easy to criticize others like a Monday-morning quarterback. It’s something else to stand in the pocket and take the hits. If this were a football analogy, you might say Peter wasn’t the most graceful Quarterback, but he got the job done and was a tough son-o

Aren’t you glad they don’t have ___________ talk radio? I’m pretty thrilled there is no Pastor Talk Radio – Cause then y’all could say on the radio, what you say at lunch!

When it comes to trusting Jesus, what keeps us from getting out of the boat? What keeps you from daring to trust Jesus? Where is our daring faith when living for God costs us something? This morning I want to look at the reasons we are afraid to leave the boat, and the way Peter overcame them. Today, I want us to dare to trust Jesus completely-to live a DARING FAITH

It may not sound very pastoral, but the first thing we need to do is DO SOMETHING suck it up and grow up! When the disciples first see Jesus coming at them they mistake Him for a ghost. They have spent the whole night afraid the storm would drown them, and now a ghost shows up.

Things were going from bad, to worse. It was the epitome of out of the frying pan and into the fire.

The first thing that must happen to get out of the boat is that our disillusionment must be dispelled so we can experience a Daring Faith. Have you ever noticed that we make the problems of life worse in our head than they really are? As humans we are masters at creating terrible events in our minds and worrying ourselves to death. I can’t jump off of this cliff – even though I just saw Darrin Masters do it!

Have you ever watched some old suspense movies? Those directors knew something about our ability to create fears in our head. Today we show everything and leave nothing to the imagination. But old movies will let you know something bad is going to happen and then not show it. Those directors allowed our minds to fill in the blanks. I remember my sister making me watch The Birds as a kid – It scared me to death!

The disciples are filling in the blanks of the movie narrative of their life. They see a figure walking on the water toward them and they assume that it must be a ghost. Is that not just like us? We make our fears greater than they are. But how do we handle real fears?

We must know the person of Jesus & experience first hand that He isn’t creating that fear in our lives.

Do you know how they train Federal agents to spot counterfeit money? They put them in a room for days and have them count real money. Then after several days of counting real money, they slip a phony bill in. More often than not, the agent will catch the fake dollar. Why? Not because they know so much about counterfeit money, but because they are so familiar with the original.

That is how we grow a Daring Faith. We must become so familiar with Jesus, that when false promises or pseudo-saviors show up, we spot them for who & what they are. We have to know Jesus, in the deepest most personal sense. Only through a daily walk through our lives beside Jesus will we be able to recognize Him. Only as we grow to know Jesus deeper will we be able to identify the fakes.The disciples mistake Jesus for a ghost when He shows up. Only when Peter is sure that it is Jesus walking on the water does he dare think about getting out of the boat.

So, how’s your relationship with Jesus? Is He your friend that sticks closer than a brother? All of us in this room could identify the President of the United States, but if he were to walk through the door, would he know you? That’s the kind of relationship we can have with Jesus before we can even think about getting out of the boat. A relationship, where we know Him, and He knows us.

DO Something and Drop Your Distractions
Peter leaves the boat when he knows that it is Jesus on the water, and for a little while he walks on the water. Peter does the impossible, but then things change. Peter took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the storm.

If your weekly coming and going are anything like mine, there’s a lot of NOISE out there clambering for your attention. Social Media, Overworked, over-extended, stress-filled days with an expectation placed on you that you have no hope of meeting…sound familiar?

When Peter got out of the boat he was focused on Jesus, on the source of his power. Then Peter shifted his focus from the source of his power to the problems that surrounded him. We’ll sink when we get distracted from Jesus, our source of power too! Distractions can come in two forms, the obvious and the subtle.

Peter gets distracted by the obvious stuff. The thunder booms, the lightning cracks, the wind whips, and the waves pound. There’s a storm going on around Peter. It’s easy to see why he gets distracted. He’s afraid. Just a few moments ago he was hiding in the boat from the storm, now he is exposed in the middle of the storm.

We get scared by things that look like they will overtake us, and we turn from Jesus, the source of our power and peace. When I was in seminary I served a country church and had a fairly new car. Believe it or not, between my sophomore and junior years of high school dad moved our family to Lubbock, Texas. Dude – that’s a foreign land to a boy that had lived by the ocean in two states and loved the southeast.

I just wasn’t cut out for life in TX, especially since moving in would cause me to sit out a year of varsity football and baseball…not cool at all. So I convinced my Dad that I would drive my 1972 Chevy Monte Carlo from Lubbock Texas back to Snellville, GA by myself. I stopped in Vicksburg, Mississippi and slept at a rest area and then lived with my football coach for a while before Mom and dad came back east. At the time I drove 1,160 miles, I was just 15 years old!

I stopped to get gas somewhere in Alabama and when I got back in the car, it was dead. I thought it was an alternator or a bad battery, but when I opened the hood I realized that the connection of cable to battery was loose. As a 15 year old kid, I WAS A LITTLE FREAKED OUT. That was before GPS, cell phones and certainly before texting and social media. But when I tightened it up, the car fired up and the rest is pretty uneventful.

When we choose to focus on the problems rather than the power, we sacrifice our connection with Jesus. Jesus is a power greater than the problems we face. When our problems distract us from Jesus, we turn from the greatest power there is to a lesser power. John writes in I John 4:4, “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

If we focus on the problems then we will lose sight of the one real solution.

We can also get distracted by subtle things. If you are like me, then you get a lot of offers to be involved in some good things. They are not problems, but they demand time and attention. How often do you evaluate those things in light of the kingdom of God and eternity? Do you ever ask yourself, “Is this part of God’s will for my life?” “Will this help the kingdom of God advance?” “Will this make an eternal difference in someone’s life?” Like I said, they may be good projects, noble endeavors, but they may also distract you from your main focus.

The problem is we get too busy for Jesus. He is either the central character in your life’s narrative, or He is not! I read awhile back that “If Satan can’t make you bad, then he will make you busy.” We can get distracted by good things as well as bad.  

In Luke 9:51, the scriptures say “When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, He was determined to journey to Jerusalem.” Jesus knew that he had go to the cross. It was His mission. He could have healed more people if He hadn’t been crucified at 33. He could have preached, taught, and fed many more people if He had delayed the cross 5 or 10 years. Those are all good things, but they were not his purpose. Jesus maintained a single focus: the cross. He wouldn’t be distracted by the obvious problems, Pharisees, Scribes, and opposition and popular opinion. He wouldn’t be deterred by subtle issues, healing, teaching, and preaching.

We can never let the problems of this world distract us from the source of our power. We must also be careful to not become so busy that we stray from the purpose Jesus has for us.

DO Something – Drop Your Distractions and Focus on a Daring Faith
When Peter got into the boat, the disciples worshiped Jesus. We get the feeling that this worship of Him was different. Amazingly this is not a first-time event for the disciples. Earlier in Matthew chapter 8, the disciples are in the boat when a storm comes up. So bad is the storm that they think they will die. Sound familiar? Only instead of walking on the water, Jesus is asleep in the boat. The disciples wake Jesus, and He speaks to the winds and the waves and the storm calms. The disciples look at one another and say, “What kind of man is this? – even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Compare that with what they confess here. Now they say that Jesus is the Son of God.

How did they get from “What kind of man is this?” to “You are the Son of God.”? Something about the whole experience opened their eyes to the power and ability of Jesus. Before this encounter Jesus was just an amazing man, but now the disciples saw Him as the Messiah and Son of God.

How can we see Jesus for who He really is?

How can we move from seeing Jesus as just a great man, to the only one who can change our lives? We must spend time with Him. It is simple, but sometimes it is the most obvious things that we fail to see. To know Jesus we must spend time with Jesus.

When the storms of life come, how long will you wait till you call on Jesus? Don’t we often try to think our way out of problems and search for others who can get us out of our problems, before we look to Jesus? Why is Jesus not on speed dial in difficult times?

No matter how we answer that question, there is a deeper problem: We doubt Jesus. We trust our skills, our intellect, our money, our position, or our connections more than we do the Son of God. We  only turn to Jesus as a last result. We put Jesus on a time limit. If He doesn’t handle our problem within a certain about of time, we assume that He doesn’t care,  isn’t able, or is too busy. So we go to someone or something else. Not only must Jesus be our first choice, He must become our only choice.

I can imagine the question that may be in your mind: “But what if Jesus does not help?” Jesus may not come when you want, do what you want, or follow your every direction, but Jesus does care. He is all-powerful, and he will help. Notice that the storms don’t calm down until Jesus gets into the boat. The whole experience with Peter walking on the water happened while the storm raged. Sometimes Jesus doesn’t remove the problems of life, but He shows up and walks with you through them.

That’s where trust and faith come in. That’s why it’s a Daring Faith!  When we realize that all we need is Jesus we will trust Him. It will not matter if the storms rage, or the lightning flashes. All that will matter to us is that we have Jesus.  

That’s what has happened to the disciples. They have come into the presence of Jesus, and just Jesus. They have seen Him do the incredible and that has dispelled the disillusionment, defeated the distractions, and destroyed the doubts. That’s what we need to do. To know Jesus personally, to stay focused on Him, and to trust Him. When we do those 3 things, Jesus can look at us and say come out of the boat, and we will.

Making the decision to follow Jesus a leap of faith, like jumping off the cliff. You simply cannot play it safe and follow Jesus with your whole heart, we’ve got to be willing to risk it all with a Daring Faith!   Are there some fears that cause you to be disillusioned and keep you from risking it all for Jesus? Could it be that you have allowed those fears to become greater than they really are? Are problems distracting you from the source of your power?

Do doubts nag at you and keep you from learning to trust Jesus?

Whatever it is, the One greater than fears, problems, and doubts is here.

Jesus is waiting on you to believe in Him and risk it all. Come on, leave the boat and walk on the water. Jesus says you can do it.
Let’s Pray…



A weekly email from Pastor Chuck. Learn more by clicking here.