Not too long ago I was shopping one of my favorite online daily deal websites. You know, the ones that have just one thing a day, for a ridiculously low price, and usually very limited quantities? On this particular day, they had a vintage looking, stand-up arcade game from the era of video games I grew up with. It was sweet, and the price was amazing: Just $99, plus $5 shipping.
After I thought about it for a little while, I decided to check out some other online retailers and realized that the price this site was offering was really good; the next best price I could find for the exact same machine was over $300. I went to bed, and when I got up at 6:30am, I decided to press the buy button, and seal the deal on my new arcade game.
They were sold out. As best as I could tell, they sold out about 45 minutes after the item was first listed, or, about ten minutes after I turned off the computer and went to bed. I missed a golden opportunity to own a vintage (looking) stand-up arcade classic for $105!
Thankfully, that missed opportunity didn’t (as far as I know) alter the very course of my life! However, it illustrates the peril of missing opportunity when it comes by -- you may not get another chance. It’s not that every decision must become one of life-changing destiny, or that every limited-time-opportunity should be taken because of its fleeting time frame. It’s that my life experience, including 16 years in the pastorate, has taught me that God often tailor makes opportunities that slip by without a second glance.
In Matthew 14, we have the biblical account of Jesus and Peter walking on water. This is the story that cast the vision for Overboard Ministries: to help people live their God-designed lives out of the comfort of the boat, and out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom. One of my favorite parts about this story is Peter’s reaction to Jesus: “Lord, if it’s you, command me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28).
Notice this: Jesus didn’t command Peter to hop out onto the water until after Peter grabbed the opportunity to ask. In other words, it appears from the story that Peter embraced the opportunity of the moment to exercise his faith and leap out onto the storming Sea of Galilee. There is no evidence from the story that the idea to walk on water first came from Jesus. But Peter didn’t take the plunge until after Jesus called him!
I always find it interesting that at the end of the Gospel of John, during the 40 days after Jesus’ had risen from the dead, Peter grabs another opportunity to jump onto the water. In John 21, Peter and some (all?) of the disciples are fishing on the Sea of Galilee. After a fruitless night, they are coming back to the shore when someone from the water’s edge says, “cast your nets on the other side of the boat!” The men do, and they can barely get the catch to land.
As they are making the haul of their lives, John says, “It’s the Lord” and hearing this, look at what Peter does: “When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea” (John 21:7). Who puts on their clothes before going swimming? I know the text doesn’t tell us, so this is pure conjecture, but don’t you wonder if Peter was trying to take another stroll on the lake? Unlike Matthew 14, in John 21, Jesus wasn’t calling.
The point is this: living remarkably demands that we embrace opportunity when it comes. Not just any opportunity, but those opportunities that give us a chance to exercise our faith in God’s power and ability to work in and through us, for His glory, not ours. Is it possible to misread those times? It sure is -- I think that might explain Peter’s actions in John 21. However, in both Matthew 14 and John 21 I notice one similar fact: Peter was the only one who made either move.
Are you embracing the faith-opportunities God brings your way? Are you being willing to grab the sides of the boat and jump out onto the water when Jesus gives you a chance? It’s too easy to explain away opportunities as “coincidence”, or to dismiss it as something irrational that doesn’t make sense. (and of course, faith and reason are not mutually exclusive!) If you want to live remarkably, however, you have to embrace opportunities to step out in faith, and embrace those moments when every step depends on God’s hand to sustain you.
Is there an opportunity in your life, right now, where you could ask God, “God if it’s you...tell me to come to you on the water”?
Has God already called you out onto the water? What’s holding you back?
As you go about your day today, tomorrow and so on, think about embracing the opportunities that are in front of you. Then, if Jesus is calling you out of the boat, flex that faith muscle and jump!
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!