Stepping out of your comfort zone - know your boat

Stepping out of your comfort zone - know your boat

Know, know, know your boat.  
 
We have probably all heard a talk, at some point, on the famous Bible moment where Peter walks on water with Jesus in Matthew 14 — sermons about storms, messages about the power of Jesus, and talks about not looking at the circumstances around us lest we drown.
However, we want to discuss a lesser spoken about detail of the story — the boat...
 

First, let's read the short passage together: 

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” 
[Matt 14:22]  

 
Often, the boat gets a bit of a bad rep in messages about this story. The boat often gets described as the thing that holds the disciples back, the thing we must get out of, our limiting factor. But realistically, boats are good! In this account, the boat was doing nothing wrong; it was a pretty useful instrument. In fact, as we see in verse 22, Jesus was the one who made the disciples get into the boat in first place! 
 
And in the same vein, we often hear talks about how it’s the bad, negative, detrimental stuff that holds us back from stepping out and experiencing God. The habitual sin, the temptations, the unforgiveness. This is often what the boat is likened to. But we’d suggest, just like this boat, it’s sometimes just the good, safe, comfortable, common sense, things that keep us from stepping out. It could be a geographical location that we’re incredibly attached to, perhaps a hometown. It could be our career or studies that takes all of our focus. More often than not, it’s relationships that we feel we could never give up or take a step back from. For far fewer of us, it’s the security of being alone that we don’t want to surrender (shout-out to the super-introverts). And for the best of the British, it’s our regimented routine that doesn’t budge.  
 
Of course, these can all be good things, and things that God may have blessed us with for a section of our lives. They are blessings that, if held with just the right tension, can enhance our experience of Him.  
So, what’s the problem? 
 
Well, the issue arises when we hold on too tight...
Let’s say we begin to intentionally listen to the voice of God – and He says: “Come get out of that boat, leave behind that comfort.” 
And we say: “Nope! Lalala, I’m not listening. Thank you, Lord, for my lovely boat, I think I’ll stay in it.”  
We’re willing to praise and thank Him, but not so much with the obeying and stepping out. As we intentionally listen to His voice, we may hear the call to step out of one of these comforts – to move house, to stay single, to get married, to give our money to someone else. We hear these calls to step out of what are already good things, in order to experience God in a new, greater way. To take part in something miraculous. That’s the thing about this account — Jesus could walk on water either way, but He was inviting Peter to experience something greater than he currently had.  
 
In reality, comforts, after a while, can start to look less like a boat and more like a rubber dingy. Comforts become uncomfortable, irritating, making us feel and look a little bit silly. They keep us safe to an extent, but slowly deflate, meaning we have to put in tonnes of effort to keep blowing them back up, as we ignore the call of God. But this clawing on to comfort, to a deflating rubber dingy, just keeps us in shallow water. Psychology Today describes comfort zones as ‘dysphoric emotions’ that can mean we ‘never realise our deepest desires and dreams.’ In a faith context, this means that we, as believers, will remain at the level of faith we currently experience. Our dysphoric emotion is our satisfaction with where we are but God’s dreams for us might be so much bigger.  

 
If we want to go deeper with God, experience Him more, let’s shake off some of those restricting comforts. Because remember, Jesus didn’t need Peter to walk on the water with Him. It wouldn’t have made Jesus any less Jesus. But it was an opportunity for Peter to experience something miraculous and life-changing. Jesus won’t necessarily make us move; we’ll just miss out...  
 
Why not pause and have a think what your boat might be this year, and let’s step out, one foot at a time...  

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