Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guide to Walking On Water

No experience in the scriptures captures my attention like the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water. After giving the subject much thought, and having made leaps into deep waters of my own, I've decided to dedicate an entire post to the subject. 
Often we get answers to our prayers after a trial of our faith. When we dive in by trusting the Lord with our whole hearts even without knowing all the details, we're blessed immensely. The recognition of those blessings comes even if we get the answer we didn't expect, or want, some time later when we're drowning in it. The Lord's hand is always there to pull us up out of the water before we drown.

I once worked at an "opportunity" to "walk above the water" that lasted for a few years. I wanted this righteous desire with all my heart. I prayed and told the Lord that if He would give me the "opportunity" that I would jump in and walk unless He told me otherwise. I had dreamed it could be possible, chosen it, and I loved it. My desire quickly became my reality and the time came to decide whether I would commit.

Puzzled at how quickly my prayers had been answered, I approached a dear friend who had been in my situation just months earlier, seeking clarity. Her sage advice was that "concerns and doubts are two different things. [There's] serious concerns, [and then there's] your typical 'cold feet'," and it was up to me to "follow the spirit" and determine which I was encountering. She taught me the valuable lesson that doubting means there's a lack of faith on my part, whereas concerns are legitimate reasons to choose a different path. Her words and example fortified my faith and I went to the Hill of the Lord in fervent prayer to know for certain whether it was to continue my desired pursuit. God showed me that day that He trusted me to make the best decision I could! At that time, I wasn't given a "Yes", or "No", but instead a "Keep going and you'll be fine" answer. All doubt disappeared and the enthusiasm of realizing my dreams cloaked my concerns.

Armed in affirmed faith, I took my leap! I dove in with both feet and began my own proverbial walk on water. I was blessed beyond belief in every facet of my life. I felt as Joseph in Egypt "goodly, favoured and prosperous". The blessings were so tangible and evident. I felt the Lord embrace me so tightly and felt his approval for trusting Him. I made Him proud! The Thrill of the ride outweighed all potential cruxes. When doubts arose, I didn't give up, because I knew it was a gift the Lord had given me. I learned so much from that stroll about being patient and charitable, and felt the Lord molding me in ways I never imagined. Sure there were moments when things weren't peachy, but going back to the boat was the last thing on my mind because of the absolute peace and levity I felt inside; I was living my dream and I wanted this experience to last forever!

However, those clandestine concerns began to lose their illusion and take their true shape. Storms arose. The miraculous rock platform of water decomposed from concrete into quicksand. The opportunity swiftly morphed into an obstacle. My encumbered feet began to sink until I couldn't continue; my head suddenly submerged in a realization that my castle in the sky was crumbling. Abruptly, that desperate moment when all seemed to be lost came upon me. I optimistically made every effort to swim, but towering waves were too much. With my final bouyant stroke, I caught the grip of a Hand extended to save me. His Strong Hands took hold and pulled my exhausted soul Up to safety. Finally I was given vivid answers about my "opportunity" and those concerns: "Get Thyself Out;" I was to retract my own will in favor of a greater commission without the millstone that had been thrown around my neck that was thwarting my future capacity. Admittedly, I was astonished. Why would the Lord allow me to make my way out into the water so far, yet allow me to sink after successfully cultivating that course for so long?

I've concluded there are 6 reasons He allowed Peter to walk on the water, and allows us to do the same with our own desires:
  1. Desire - He gives us our heart's desire. The character and virtue of what we desire enhances our experience greatly. The character and virtue of my next endeavor will now enhance my life to an even greater level.
  2. Confidence - We can develop confidence in attributes we never thought we had. In my situation, it was patience and the ability to love unconditionally.
  3. Action - Peter's only desire was to follow Christ. He wanted to do what was right and he invested his whole heart into the opportunity and committed, rather than being idle, and was blessed with a remarkable experience. What is most important isn't what happens to us, its what we do with it that defines the experience.
  4. Endurance - We are taught to never ever ever ever give up, because His strong arm is always extended to help if we'll keep trying, even and especially if we feel like we are doomed to a deep despair.
  5. Putting His Will First - Although I sought His will previously, He taught me that knowing His will does not solve life’s problems, but it gives flavor, purpose, and strength to master them.
  6. Life is a Lesson - Everything we experience in life is to mold us for a greater future. Tribulations are trampolines to propel us upward to greater heights. If we don't get what we want, it's because we're getting what the Lord wants, which is always better!
President David O. McKay testified, “It is true that the answers to our prayers may not always come as direct and at the time, nor in the manner, we anticipate; but they do come, and at a time and in a manner best for the interests of him who offers the supplication.”

So now what? That experience has passed by and I'm safely back in the boat! Like Peter surely didn't regret jumping into the water, I have zero regrets for trusting in what Elder Richard G. Scott describes as the "keep going" answer. I was able to exercise my mind, spirit, body, and heart in ways I never imagined. I grew at a pace more rapid than ever. I'll never regret taking that faithful leap into deep waters to follow that opportunity. If someone had to go through that, I'm glad it was me, so that I could learn and grow from it. I developed grandiose courage to take on life's challenges, and gained momentum in my journey back to His presence. I am much better off than had I stayed aboard the ship and not been willing to act upon that righteous desire of my heart. Now it's time to move on to a better challenge, a greater opportunity facing the direction of my destiny. I've been trained by trial and experience in the crucible of the unashamed. I'm confident that next time I jump, I'll again walk; unsinkable, effervescent, blessed, and forever:

"I won't look back. let up, slow down. or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded . I now live by Faith, lean on HIS presence, walk with patience. I am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power . My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the advesary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He returns for His Own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My Banner will be clear." - Henry B. Eyring