Two weeks ago, we learned through a set of executive dumbbells that adding discipline to our spiritual life will improve our walk with God but discipline alone is not enough. Last week, a piano became a reminder of how God challenges us to grow, to experiment, to boldly try new ideas and be creative with our spiritual decisions. But creativity even combined with discipline is not enough.
Have you ever been around some of our gifted artists? “Spare me!” Many could easily be described as “stuck on themselves.” Too much emphasis on creativity alone promotes arrogance and selfishness. We tend to worship our creativity rather than the Creator who provided the gift. If discipline and creativity aren’t enough: What do we do? We add one more analogy: a painting.
In my office there is a painting, “Peter on the Water” by Norbert McNulty. Surrounded by a dangerous thunderstorm, the disciples are tossed about in their boat, faces flush with fear. Peter however, boldly steps onto the water to join Jesus. But something goes terribly wrong as he begins to sink into the turbulent sea. There is only one hope as Peter desperately reaches out for the outstretched hand of Jesus. Amidst the raging storm, Jesus calmly pulls Peter to safety.
We can only go so far on our own… then we must reach for help.
The Bible goes on to say, “And when they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshipped him. ‘You really are the Son of God!’ they exclaimed.” (Mat. 14:33)
When we recognize our need for help… God’s outstretched arm is there.
Discipline with a dose of creativity is important in our journey of faith but we were never supposed to walk alone. The painting stands as a poignant reminder of our constant need for the hand of Jesus to pull us out of the depths. Here is what I learned from the painting:
· Peter was bold to step out of the boat and walk on the water toward Jesus. There is a need for boldness when we reach out for God but boldness alone is not enough…
· Peter was quickly overwhelmed by obstacles of wind and high waves. We can quickly become overwhelmed when left to our own devices. So the answer is…
· Peter could do nothing without Christ’s outreached arm. We can accomplish very little without looking and reaching toward Jesus. So our response should be…
· In the end, all the disciples could say was: “Truly you are the Son of God.” In the end all we can say is: “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Now we look at the same spiritual questions one more time but armed with the knowledge of how much we need help from each other and from God in our turbulent lives. How is my daily prayer life? Do you regularly read the Bible? Are we active members of a local church? Is my spiritual life being challenged by regular participation in a small group? Do you frequently participate in a ministry serving those in need? Are we actively witnessing our faith to others?
So what have we learned? How should we approach the questions above?
- We look to God’s help in adding more discipline to our spiritual life? The two Dumbbells.
- We use our gifts and talents to be more creative in our walk with God? The Piano.
- We recognize that we cannot do steps one and two without help. The painting.
- Finally: What else can we say but “Truly you are the Son of God!”
“How can I develop a deeper faith and a closer relationship with God?” you ask.
I found great answers from, “two dumbbells, a piano and a painting.” My resolutions this year include a commitment to more discipline and creativity but also knowing deep down, “I’m in turbulent waters and I’ll surely drown if I don’t learn to reach out for the outstretched hand of God.