I loved the look of satisfaction on Jesus’ face. We just fed five thousand men, plus women and children, with one boy’s lunch of bread and fish.
The scene continued to unfold in my imagination as I prayed with this gospel story while on retreat three years ago. I watched Jesus send the disciples off across the sea and then ascend the mountain to pray. He didn’t go far before he stopped and looked back at me. “Are you coming?”
“Oh yes!” I said and caught up to him.
Further up the mountain, we knelt and prayed. I heard his prayers. He heard mine. God listened intently, and the Holy Spirit enfolded us with love.
I didn’t want the moment to end. So I was a little annoyed when Jesus opened his eyes and gazed over his left shoulder to the Sea of Galilee.
Then I saw what he saw. A wind had come up and his friends were straining at the oars. They were exhausted and afraid.
In an instant, Jesus was up on his feet and booking it down the mountain. I could hardly keep up. We were running so fast and the mountain was so steep, I thought I might tumble ass over tea kettle.
When we got to the lake, Jesus didn’t hesitate. He sprinted across the water like a scene from The Shack.
Then he stopped, turned around, and saw me stranded on the shore.
I will never forget that moment. He looked me in the eyes and once again asked, “Are you coming?”
That story lingers with me now as I find myself again standing on the shore of “I can’t.”
I think of what I can’t do and list the many failures that prove that I’m right. I can’t stop overeating. I can’t be still. I can’t stop judging. I can’t stop worrying, obsessing, analyzing, fixing, and catastrophizing.
I can’t, Jesus. I can’t walk on water. I don’t want to fail again.
But Jesus doesn’t share my limiting beliefs and is unafraid of failure. He knows all about confirmation bias and is undeterred by my arguments.
He holds out his hand and says, “Are you coming?”
If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them …
I promise you. You lift your head up, take a breath.
There’s a lot of great possibilities out there.
― Billy McMahon (played by Vince Vaughn) The Internship
Questions for your Lenten journey:
When we say something repeatedly to ourselves we come to believe it’s a fact. We know it’s true with the same conviction that we know we can’t walk on water. We even back up those beliefs with personal experiences that prove we’re right. We are often unaware of our confirmation bias which is “the tendency to look for information that supports, rather than rejects, one’s preconceptions, typically by interpreting evidence to confirm existing beliefs while rejecting or ignoring any conflicting data” (American Psychological Association).
As you listen to your thoughts today, what judgments about yourself do you hear?
What would it be like to imagine that these may not be true?
In 1 Corinthians 10:5, Paul says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” What if we captured the thoughts we have about ourselves and shared them with Jesus?
We all have unchangeable limitations and accepting them helps us let go of old dreams and find new ones. Other limitations are ones we’ve unconsciously put on ourselves. As you talk with Jesus about your limitations, what encouragement do you receive? What new freedom is coming into view?