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My Year With Peter and Jonah

by on November 13, 2022

This morning marks one year since my last time preaching and serving at the Lord’s Table. After years of discernment, prolonged by the pandemic, I finally stepped out of the boat and onto the water. Jesus’ disciple Peter did this once. (See Matthew 14) The Bible says he walked for a while before he began to sink.

I walked for two wonderful months. I spent extended time with my family, enjoying the holidays with them for the first time in over 14 years without extra worship services and activities. I received the church’s proclamation of joy, peace, hope, and love instead of planning, managing, and providing it. Those weeks of walking on water were amazing.

The Bible says Peter saw the waves and began to sink. Ten months ago the waves heaped up around me. The Bible and other poetry have additional similes from nature to describe the phenomenon—like earthquakes opening pits, storm clouds gathering, darkness descending, or crossing a desert. The Bible also uses the metaphors of adversarial spirits and enemies and others who taunt, tempt, and try us.

With Peter I walked on the waters for two months: The past ten I have sunk to the bottom with Jonah.

Jonah was the preacher who, unlike me, did everything he could to avoid the pulpit. I tried everything not to leave. But we both ended up at the bottom of the ocean, “waters closing in around us, the deep surrounding us, seaweed wrapping around our heads.” (see Jonah 2) I agree with Jonah, this is hell: We feel separated from God—except for the filament of faith that gives utterance to prayer.

On this anniversary of my last Sunday, Psalm 42 is my prayer: “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.”


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