22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 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.” 34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed. Matthew 14:22-36
I’m at a crossroads not a chasm; there are obstacles in the road, no cliffs to leap. If there is a cliff or a chasm in the road to my future then a bridge needs to be built. In talking to a godly friend and searching the Bible, I have come to the conclusion that the term “leap of faith” is really impetuousness in disguise. The best example I can come up with for a leap of faith is the above verses. This all began with a tweet I shared with a close friend and she gave me her take on it which is much more biblical than the idea I was trying to convey in my positive tweet. Here is my tweet: “The path of God begins with small steps and ends with big leaps of faith. Prayer, patience, timing, and boldness go with those leaps.” The term “leap of faith” came into being by the Danish philosopher Soren Kieerkegaard. Not to diminish his work in any way, I don’t completely agree with the term “leap of faith” anymore. Kieerkegaard’s ideas stem from a religious perspective that can be clouded by human judgement. I agree that there are leaps of faith and the biblical example above is the best one I can find. I want to break down this set of verses to show that a leap of faith is not really a good path to take to get to the other side or what turn you need to make in a decision.
Let me start by saying my crossroads is make a major decision of letting go a part time job in order to go full time into my personal training business. I feel I am limited in doing both and that to be effective in one, I need to let go of one. My purpose is to help people with their fitness and nutrition that have them sick and in a bad condition. It’s a no brainer to which job has to go, but when to let go is what the decision is. Peter is at a crossroads in the above verses, should he get out of the boat or not? Instead of a leap of faith, we should be calling these steps of faith. Steps of faith as my tweet above says begins with prayer. Peter asked Jesus if it was Him; tell him to come out of the boat. Jesus told him to come. That is not unlike our prayer today, Lord is this you, is this what you want me to do. When we have a clear yes, then we need to make a step and not a leap. Peter without thinking, got out of the boat and headed toward Jesus. Good job Peter, it looks like you are on the right path and you are doing great. The first step of faith is prayer, Peter had that right.
The next step of faith is patience. Peter without thinking got out of the boat, guess what, when he saw the wind on the water, he began to sink. Not a quality leap by any means, he did not take time to think out what he was doing, he just did it. When God has a calling in your life I am not saying sit and wait and see what drops, you do have to take action, but guarded action. You have to have patient steps or you will see the wind and the water, then you will be falling and failing. That brings us to our next step.
Pace, we have to keep pace with God. Steps of faith should be paced with God, leaps are the fast track to a watery grave. When God gives us a green light it’s not always going to happen right away. Hope is a good example of that; we have the hope of the future. A leap is hopeless and carelessness in action. Keeping pace with God might mean building a bridge to get to the other side. It takes time. Life is a marathon and if you want to finish the race you have to go your pace, not those in front of you.
The last step of faith is poise. There is a point in the walking in faith process where we need to have courage and confidence. Poise is knowing who you are in Christ, and in knowing this, having courage and confidence in your decision. This only comes with prayer, patience, and pacing. Peter saw wind, water, and waves and lost his focus on Jesus. A leap is our own effort to quickly get to where God wants us, which is wrong. There is joy in the journey always.
Faith steps begin with prayer, patience, pacing, and poise. Leaps are skipping the steps and making a rash decision that may be based on what God wants you to do, but shows you later when you fail that you should have prayed, been patient, kept the pace, and poise to finish strongly.
Are you at a crossroads, and have you leaped before looking and not built a bridge?
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple] 2016