The hero of this week's story, Andy Parow, at Boy Scout camp in the 1980's. If it weren't for him you wouldn't be reading this blog this week! (Photo courtesy of his mom, Joan Parow)
Faith invites us to step out into the unknown, to take risks, and to trust in the Lord. But what happens when we lose our focus and begin to sink?
As a teenager, I went on a camping trip with my Boy Scout troop on the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands. After we set up our campsite, we all went down to the river to cool off.
Being young and somewhat reckless, I took a leap of faith and jumped into the river without knowing how to swim.
I thought to myself, "Hey, it can't be that deep! I will just jump in, land on my feet and just wade around a bit!"
As my feet left solid ground and I dove into the water I realized I was in way over my head. I was overcome by fear. Panic set in. I felt like I was drowning. I cried out, and by God's grace, my friend Andy Parow was there to pull me out of the water.
In my fear and panic, I cried out for help, just as Peter did in today's Gospel. In both instances, a saving hand was extended. Peter stepped out of the boat with faith, but as the wind blew and the waves rose, he became fearful and started to sink. But the moment he cried out, "Lord, save me!", Jesus immediately reached out His hand to catch him.
From these experiences, we can draw three profound lessons that guide our spiritual journey:
First, we must acknowledge our limitations and weaknesses. Recognizing our own vulnerabilities opens us up to the help and support of others, and most importantly, the saving grace of God. In faith, we step out; in fear, we sink; in calling out, we are saved.
Second, we must recognize the value of community and friendship. Just as Andy saved me from the depths of the river, we must lean on our communities and loved ones when we're struggling. We are part of a body of believers, a community of faith, here to support and uplift each other in times of need.
Lastly, we must trust in God's saving grace. Jesus doesn't promise us an easy journey, free from storms or difficulties, but He promises to be with us through them, to stretch out His hand when we begin to sink.
I am glad to say that I have since learned to swim. But that experience served as a potent reminder throughout my life of the importance of humility, the value of community, and the ever-present love and protection of our Savior.
As we leave here today, let us reflect on our own leaps of faith, our own moments of sinking, and how we've been lifted up by God's grace and the community around us. Let us pray for the courage to step out in faith, the wisdom to lean on our community, and the trust to reach out our hands to Jesus, knowing that He is always there to save us.
In faith, we step out; in fear, we sink; in calling out, we are saved. Let that be our mantra as we navigate the waters of our lives.