Do you ever do that thing where you're talking, and you say something you didn't even know you knew, or you learn something as you're saying it?
Last night I was hanging out with CourtneyinAfrica (who is not presently in Africa, though she will be again soon and briefly), having Christmas leftovers and an improvised salad.
We were having deep and meaningful conversation, mostly around trusting God and its implications for real life, and I suddenly thought of the story of Peter asking Jesus to let him walk on water. CourtneyinAfrica and I had been divulging certain Impossible Dreams we have each been dreaming, and hashing through whether or not these were things we were supposed to hope for, and therefore trust God to perform (because we both know He can fulfill them, of course), or if we were "wanting the wrong things" for reasons known only to God, and therefore supposed to do something decisive to sever ourselves from the wantings.
When I thought of Peter, I thought, "What a crazy thing to ask for," and then I thought, "He didn't ask Jesus if it was His will--he just went for it." So I started to point this out, but what I actually ended up saying was, "Peter didn't say, "Lord, if it's Your will tell me to walk to You on the water. He said, 'Lord, if it's You . . . '"
We both stared at each other. Probably we both got the chills. It felt like we had just uncovered something momentous, without actually being able fully to grasp or explain its significance. CourtneyinAfrica said, "It has something to do with relationship." I'm still not sure what I think this means, but it's as if, in the relationship Peter and Jesus had, Peter could ask something ridiculous, but it wasn't actually going to be wrong. And Jesus loved Peter so much, he didn't say, "See, Peter, you don't always get everything you want. This is your day to learn that. It will make you a stronger person." Nor did he stand there with his arms crossed, tapping His foot on the waves, waiting for Peter to say, "Oh--I mean, if it's Your will. If you want to. Yeah . . . that." Peter didn't doubt that Jesus could do it, and he doesn't seem to have doubted that Jesus would want to (at least, not initially). He had simply said, "Lord, if it's You," and it was Him, so He did it.
And then, even though it was an isolated event and only involved two people and a dozen or so eye-witnesses, He even used it to glorify Himself, because it ended up in the Bible. I hardly think it's a fluff human-interest piece. It's got to be there for some reason.
I have been praying for some version of my Impossible Dream for more years than I can count, probably, and for a more specific version of it for a little over a year. And I don't know what the outcome of all this praying is going to be. I don't ever expect anything I pray for to look the way I imagine it when I'm praying for it (because to date, nothing ever has). And I'm a pessimist; I tend to expect the worst, in hopes that I will be wrong but bracing myself in case. So although it's not hard for me to trust that God can do miracles, I have a bear of a time trusting that He wants to do them, for me--that I might actually want something He wants.
Now I'm wondering. Maybe most of this praying-year, I've largely been asking the wrong questions. So the waves loom and I start to lose my balance and I start to sink and I think, "See? I knew I didn't want the right thing." But every time--every time--I've finally stopped trying to stay afloat myself, and said the equivalent of "If it's You," the waves have subsided and I've seen Jesus' face (figuratively, but clearly, and that's still something . . . ) and I've been able to take another step. I still don't know what this means, exactly, but I guess I'm probably not supposed to. Yet, anyway.
After CourtneyinAfrica left, I (wasted a little time on Facebook and) got ready for bed. I sat down and opened up a new devotional book that some person had anonymously left me at Starbucks. I opened it to the reading I was up to. It was about Peter, asking Jesus to invite him to walk on the water.
Today it occurred to me that yesterday was the Feast of Epiphany . . .