Living on the Edge!

In these days, we are back to flying after being “grounded” for nearly 18 months by the Covid-19 Pandemic! It’s a good feeling to be able to re-connect with our family in New Mexico and Texas this summer. Speaking of being grounded… we even took our first leg of the flight west from St. Louis to Dallas on a brand new Boeing 737 Super Max 800 series. This is the airplane that had been grounded for nearly two years after two fatal crashes that were caused by a faulty flight control system. I did not know what specific plane we were on until we were pushing back from the gate and I looked forward at the flight information brochure in the seatback pocket! Although, thankfully, this turned out to be a non-event for us, I will leave the specifics of this story for another time! 

Image Credit: clipart-library.com

Most commercial airplanes fly to an altitude of about 35,000 feet. In recent days, the term “Edge of Space” has become descriptive of the feat accomplished by Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic. What is this “edge” or imaginary layer in our atmosphere? It is the air space boundary calculated to be about 100 km or 62 miles above sea level (about 328,000 feet). This is the regulatory line where the altitude is so high and the air is so thin that it makes the aerodynamic lift of airplanes impossible. Thus, persons in space vehicles crossing this technical medium can be described as astronauts!

Richard Branson officially became a civilian astronaut at about 9:25 am, Mountain Time, last Sunday morning, July 11. It was intriguing to watch the event live on broadcast television just before our New Mexican family was to leave for church that morning. It may not have been as cool as when I watched the live coverage of the Apollo 11 lunar landing on July 11, 1969, but it certainly marked an epic new era in civilian space travel. 

Just after receiving his astronaut's wings last Sunday, Branson commented, "We're here to make space more accessible to all!" Those of the general public who wish to travel to the lower levels of space can now expect to pay more than $250,000 per seat on a Virgin Galactic spaceship! By my calculations, that ticket price puts such a space adventure completely out of reach for most people!

When I think of the expression, "living on the edge," I think of a cousin who likes to skydive (like the daredevil Richard Branson does!). Those "on the edge" tend to be risk-takers and persons who are comfortable when they are behaving in what I deem to be "extreme ways." For me, the Apostle Peter, known for being daring and impulsive, somewhat fits this description. Do you remember the night he and the other disciples were crossing the Galilean Lake? They saw Jesus coming toward them while walking on the water! 

Peter said and did something quite audacious that night. He asked Jesus' permission to walk to Him on that same body of water. As far as we know from the biblical record, Peter was the only one of the twelve disciples who requested this, "Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water." I imagine that Jesus must have further surprised the others in the boat when he replied to Peter, "Come!" (Matthew 14:28-29). 

Years ago, I heard a good message based on this passage. I took notes as the preacher carefully drew out four points of application in topical fashion. I'm listing them below without commentary...

        1. Don't listen to your detractors.

        2. Don't let circumstances discourage you.

        3. Don't try to continue on your own.

        4. Do... get out of the boat!

I see Peter exercising faith in this suspenseful narrative of events. If you consider the original language, you could surmise that his faith is based upon a calculated risk. The inspiration for this bold faith may be heard in his affirmation, “Since it is you (the word "since" is the literal sense of this, not if), tell me to come to you…” Jesus had already, on at least two occasions (10:1,8), given the disciples authority over disease, the devil and death. Peter’s question was framed in light of this authority and power, “Since it is you, please enable me to do the same thing you are doing.” God enables what He commands! If He asks you to do something, He gives you the strength to accomplish it for His glory! Have faith! 

I do not think we should expect invitations to "walk on water!" This is not likely to be a regular occurrence for most of us! But could it be that this passage serves as a subtle reminder that we shouldn't shy away from bold requests that take us out of our comfort zones? How often have we put limits on God by our preconceived ideas about how He will work in and through our lives? Some see Peter's experience as a failure of faith when later in the account he was distracted by the wind and waves all around him and began to sink. 

Let's not forget that Peter was the only one who believed enough to "get out of the boat" in the first place! Could it be that this impulsive disciple modeled a courageous faith and commitment to Christ? This is the kind of belief that moves us beyond simply "living on the edge" of the boat of life and instead, gets us out in the waters for action, true life change and service!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com 


Comments

  1. I really appreciated this one Mike, especially after losing my focus on my goals as I understand Jesus to be summoning me into them. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dan! Still praying for your next chapter, friend!

      Delete
  2. I sincerely believe that God only uses us when we "step out of the boat" or "Jump out of our comfort zone. By doing so we NEED to lock arms with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

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