Nothing good happens at 3am.
Friends of mine had a baby who woke them crying at 3am. Evan went to check on him. In the dark room, he leaned over the crib to pick the little guy up when the baby violently spit up all over them both.
Half-asleep and covered in baby vomit, Evan called frantically to his wife:
“Beth! Get in here! The baby EXPLODED!”
[The baby was fine, btw. And Beth is a super talented and thoughtful writer. You can find her stuff here.]
3am is when insomnia strikes. When the fears we hold at bay during daylight hours rear their ugly heads. When we feel most alone, most afraid. At 3am, anything seems possible, and most of it isn’t good.
Jesus’ disciples once found themselves in an eerie situation in the same wee hours.
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.”
This devotional basically writes itself. Step out! Go for it! Stop being afraid! Seize the day! Carpe diem! Don’t waste another minute in the boat – get on out there!
Well, yes and no.
We do need to step out. We’re called to courage, not fear. Faith, not fright. Yet that’s not the gospel message here because a call to bravery for bravery’s sake misses the point entirely. Hundreds of millions of bad decisions have been made by people trying to seize the day, step out of the boat, and show their courage.
We are not called to just step out of the boat. We are called to step out of the boat toward Jesus. That’s the whole point.
Peter takes this call literally and steps one shaky foot out of the boat onto the water toward Jesus. His faith holds…then falters. He sees the wind instead of the Savior and begins to sink.
Seizing the day can get us in trouble. It’s self-centered. Ego-centric. It gives us permission to tell off that nasty neighbor who’s been under our skin, to buy that pricey car we think we deserve, to throw caution to the wind and finally do what we want! After all, if we only live once we should live it up!
But stepping out toward Jesus, taking courage in him? This is the opposite of careless courage. Stepping toward Jesus is the safest way we could ever move. If on our way toward him we become fearful and start to sink, he will lift us up.
Stepping out toward Jesus will almost always be uncomfortable. It is much, much easier to stay in the boat. Stepping out toward Jesus calls us to greater obedience–praying for that neighbor. Buying the affordable car. Walking on the water in faith.
Stepping toward Jesus reminds us that we do only live once, so we should make our lives count. For him.
How is God calling you to step out toward Jesus?
What is holding you back?