Why did Peter want to step out of that boat? I’ve noticed that many have attempted to answer, but no one can really say as we are not given a window into what Peter was thinking or what his motivations were. Since others have taken their shot and have speculated, I think it’s only fair for me to give my best guess. I’ve noticed that Peter is pretty impulsive and feels like he has something to prove. I can relate to that, and I bet a lot of you can too. If I can just do that one awesome thing then my life will have meaning. I even searched “One big thing” and guess what, there’s a book by that title whose very premise proves this point. The book plug or info add says, “ Stop being average at so many things, and become extraordinary at one big thing. What were you born to accomplish with your life? One Big Thing will help you discover what you were born to do and allow it to revolutionize your business, your ministry, and your life. In today’s distracted, digital culture, it’s harder than ever to identify your calling, get your voice heard, and achieve your dreams. To stand out and communicate your ideas and message, you need to cut through the clutter and get noticed. Making that happen means focusing on the one thing that drives you, inspires your passion, and separates you from the pack. If you’ve ever felt pulled in different directions or wondered what to do with your varied talents and interests, Phil Cooke will teach you the secrets of living a life-on-purpose that rises above the noise and leaves a lasting mark on the world.” Did you catch that this was also marketed toward ministry? Peter was looking for that “one big thing” , that act, that work that would prove his worth or would define him. The insecurity, the little faith, was that deep seated ache and fear that we are just not good enough, so we have to live looking for that opportunity to show it, to prove it. How many people have gone to their graves feeling their lives were inconsequential or meaningless because they failed to find their “one big thing”. I have heard numerous times of how those that supposedly found the big thing were left with a sense of emptiness and lingering incompleteness. Lottery winners, actors, music stars, multi-millionaires can find themselves forever in the search. Peter steps out of the boat, walks on the water, to where? Where was he going? What was he looking for? OK, I’m out here, now what? That moment. I was expecting something. Completeness? Resolution? Glory? Eternal Bliss? A true persistent inner feeling where all doubt was put to rest? I believe that we search for that moment where it’s all done. After the creation in the Bible, the very first story was about humankind’s evident feeling of incompleteness and searching for something else. Searching to feel a void of doubt? A void of not enough? Maybe if I just eat that fruit. Maybe if I get rid of my brother, the competition. Then, then that, I am sure will be enough, but it seems each time, it’s not and there is a cost that is paid and relationships are sacrificed. We see acknowledgement of the futility of the pursuit of the “one big thing” in our modern entertainment. Remember the film, Mr Holland’s Opus? Glenn Holland is a musician and composer who takes a teaching job to pay the rent while, in his ‘spare time’, he can strive to achieve his true goal – compose one memorable piece of music to leave his mark on the world. His one big thing. Through the film he struggles with feelings of everything else getting in his way, yet he consistently tries to pass along his passion for music. In the end the one big thing paled in comparison to the realization that, even with his shortcomings, resentment and failure to achieve the one big thing the way he had envisioned it, his life and efforts had a heretofore personally unrecognized impact in the lives of others. It is their thankfulness that enables Mr Holland to recognize the value of the journey. The yearning or idolization of the one thing can cause us to miss so much. It caters to selfishness and self-centeredness and causes our field of vision to become narrow and short-sighted. Another great moment of insight from a family friendly movie Cool Runnings. The coach explains how he needed to win at bobsledding so badly that he let himself, his team and his country down by cheating. He tells the young aspiring bobsled driver that has become over focused on winning and who is destroying relationships, “Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one.” We can be found chasing so many things. I think we all share this tendency to believe that if we do that “one thing” then, then it will finally quiet that feeling of incompleteness or finally make us feel like we are enough. Back in the eighties the group U2 wrote the gospel song I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. It’s a lament, an acknowledgment of a person’s searching the mountains and valleys of life and still struggling with that “not enough” feeling. The singer has seemingly done it all and searched the range of the types of things that we feel would complete us, from climbing the highest mountains, to experiencing deeply sensual love, to speaking with the tongues of angels to holding the hand of the devil. He even says, “I believe in the Kingdom come, Then all the colors will bleed into one, But yes, I’m still running. You broke the bonds and you loosened chains carried the cross of my shame. You know I believe it. But I still haven’t found What I’m looking for.” Peter would get that. He stepped out of the boat, he was walking on water, but he did not find what he was looking for and then sinking, again. I think the “one big thing” is ultimately a myth, because we pin that one big thing, even faith on our action, our abilities, our diligence, our worthiness, our work, our accomplishment. That song would resonate with Martin Luther. He searched for that one big thing that bring assurance that he and God were square, that he was justified and OK in God’s sight. James Pruch points out that, “Sin tormented him so much so that he tried to justify himself before God by any means possible. Prayers, extreme fasting, self-flagellation, (that is whipping himself) and even staying in the freezing cold were all attempts to get God on his side. Luther’s entire life was one, grand self-salvation project. He once said, “If anyone would have gained heaven as a monk, I would have been among them.” So he didn’t find what he was looking for, and he had, like Elijah had looked in the places God was supposed to be, the quake, the fire and the storm. But then in the still small voice of Scripture he read, yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” It’s not those things we do, no matter how seemingly great or big, it is God’s love. It’s Grace. It’s God, through Christ, encountering all the doubt, difficulty and pain of being human, even to death on a cross and saying. “This is how much I love you. You are enough.” Luther did not find what he was looking for, but instead he found the Truth, the Truth that sets you free. That Christ within us took care of the one and only big thing, and that he directs us to live thankful lives and to funnel that thankfulness into relationships with one another, that is to love one another as he first loved us. Remember, he said that whatever we do to the least of these, we do for him. So with the gospel song that expresses the longing of our hearts hear Luther’s gospel song of one living in God’s grace.
“In the devil’s dungeon chained I lay, the pains of death swept over me. My sin devoured me night and day in which my mother bore me. My anguish ever grew more rife, I took no pleasure in my life and sin had made me crazy. Then there was the Father, troubled sore to see me ever languish. The Everlasting Pity swore to save me from my anguish. He turned to me his father heart and chose himself a bitter part, his Dearest did it cost him. Then spoke the Son, “Hold onto me, from now on you will make it. I gave my very life for you and for you I will stake it. For I am yours and you are mine, and where I am our lives entwine, the Old Fiend cannot shake it. Amen.