Thoughts: A quick boat ride away from our lodge, there's a hidden cove with a.magnificent waterfall. Hardly anyone knows about it, so when I go, it feels like it's all mine-like God made a waterpark just for me. My friend Don and I made a trip to the cove years ago. We waded over to the waterfall and he stepped through the fall and stood next tot he rocks while I stayed on the outside. Don was yelling my name. "Bob! Come through! You'll make it! I'm just one the other side! Come on, Bob!" I could barely hear him as the water crashed between us. But his voice was an invitation that demanded a response. It wasn't mere agreement he was looking for; it was actually me taking a step forward.
Despite my fear, I shuffled forward as the freezing water forced down on me. It felt like a long way, but it really wasn't. After a few steps, I joined Don on the other side. It was the best version of a baptism you can imagine! Looking out toward the cove from behind the waterfall, I understood a little better about the time Jesus walked on water and invited Peter to join Him. Jesus wasn't looking for an agreement or affirmation that this would be a great idea for someone else to do. Jesus wanted Peter to take a step.
Sometimes God asks us to step out (or through). We don't know what we'll see until we go through the deluge. It's scary to step into the unknown, but it's also where we find Jesus; and wherever we find Jesus, we find life. Fear calls out our doubts; God calls out our names. When you hear Jesus calling you name, there's only one way to respond. Take a step.
Discussion: What's your next step? What's been holding you back?
Activity: Take one step, however big or small, towards Jesus this week.
Devotion from Live in Grace, Walk in Love by Bob Goff.
In John 16, Jesus emboldens his disciples in his farewell speech by reassuring them with the promise of the Holy Spirit. Now in the seventeenth chapter, Jesus turns his eyes to heaven and prays for his beloved followers. Jesus is passing the torch to the disciples. And you'd better believe that the disciples, who are overhearing the prayer, are listening closely. It reminds me of visits to my grandparent's home as a child. My sister and I were supposed to be tucked into bed, but after a little while, we would silently tiptoe to the staircase and strain to overhear whar out mother was saying about us to our grandmother. Although Jesus prays openly about death is near, the tone of his prayer is almost joyous-he has fulfilled his calling, and the glory of his full return to unity with God as described in John's prologue is near. In this prayer, Jesus blessed his followers by naming their preparation for this moment. The disciples have received Jesus' words, and they are now certain of Jesus' divinity. Jesus prayers for unity among his followers, "so that they may be one, as we are one." The disciples could not have imagined the many streams and rivulets the Jesus movement would split into. Yet, even when John's Gospel is written, probably in the second century, there are already multiple strains: Christians rooted in Judaism and those who, like the community John writes from, have separated from the mother tree to focus on the exclusive priority of Christ. Nor could the disciples have envisioned the global church today and the complexities of church and culture that call us to deeper dialogue and prayer for one another.
Jesus tells His disciples that their love for Him will be shown by their obedience to Him. Jesus will ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit, another Advocate, who will never leave them. The Holy Spirit will lead them into all truth and will never leave them. The world cannot receive the Holy Spirit because it doesn’t want Him. When Jesus is raised, they will know that He and the Father are one. Jesus’ promise is that the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, will come and continue Jesus’ work in His followers. Following Jesus means more than a particular spirituality or religious tradition. The true followers of Jesus are those who obey His commandments. If we say we love Jesus but continue to sin we are deceiving ourselves. Likewise, we cannot claim to have the Holy Spirit if we live unholy lives. To love Jesus is to obey Him.
Robin Graham is the youngest person in history to sail around the world alone. But success didn't come easily for him. He left on his three-year odyssey as a sixteen-year-old boy thrill-seeker. The adventure was like a drug to him. His trip changed something deep inside him. A violent storm almost capsized his little boat, the Dove. In the midst of the torrent, the Dove's mast snapped in two, and Robin barely survived the water-filled tornado. But that wasn't the worst of it. When his boat entered a windless, currentless part of the ocean near the equator, Robion almost went crazy with doubt and despair. At one point, he completely gave up hope that he would ever make it out. He splashed kerosene all over his boat and set it on fire. Fortunately, Robin snapped to his senses and doused the fire before it did serious damage. Three years after his departure, Robin sailed into Los Angeles harbor to cheering crowds, honking cars, and blasting steam whistles. He had made it. And, more importantly, he had wrestled two great enemies- doubt and despair- and found himself stronger as a result.
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