During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “you of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:22-33 NIV
So that I don’t forget, I noted these verses. I was on my way to meet with the Gideons, driving, feeling the demons piling on my back. So, I prayed for God to ease my soul. Just minutes later I was reading scripture with the other men and these verses penetrated my being as if God was making the connection for me. At a dark time Jesus came to me. I wasn’t sure if it was him, but, stepped out toward him, only to remain haunted. In my lack of faith in his grace, I bagan to sink. I called on him to save me and he did. Blessed morning. Blessed day. Blessed life from a gracious, loving God.
Rituals and practiced prayers work to pull us farther from God rather than bringing us closer to him. The joy of salvation, while folly to some, is born out of despair. The word salvation has been drained of the transforming, real-world meaning that it held before it bacame a more common mass-culture punch line.
I’ll be going to mass with my wife to take part in ritual. I pray and trust that some are there who recognize all of the pomp and pagentry as merely a framework for worship of the real Messiah. The biggest disappointment for me is that such recognition is likely more the exception than the rule. There simply isn’t much evidence for me to conclude otherwise. Though, I must ask myself why it is that I should have to conclude anything about the beliefs of others when my focus should be elsewhere.
As much as the ritual of religion has deceived us about what pure Christianity is, so has the cliched tag of having been “saved.” It is, I believe, a result of people wanting to put out there the minimal admittance (mumbling “I’ve been saved,” under their breaths) just so that they can feel better about having said it out loud – barely.
This assessment, too, comes at a price with my personal life. I have to admit that, just last night, I told someone that I listen to music that has Christian lyrics because, “It is where I’m at in life now,” rather than enthusiastically grabbing the opportunity to share the history of my own undeserved, monumentous, grace-laden salvation.
My prayer must be, at this point, for God to focus my eyes on him and to let his joy flow from me without pretense. Amen.
Unnecessarilly tagged with a pewter veneer. Abba has been relegated to online fodder, bookshelf occupier, political handle. Furthest from the fundamentalist, literalist, never-moved population, God to me is a beaming, breathing, magnifier, illuminator of my soul. The key to the ever after given for free, to me.