Picture with me for a moment some soggy, Middle Eastern men on an ancient boat in the middle of the night. Their arms are slick with seaspray, jellied from bailing water and rowing against the wind.
They’ll argue about who saw it first, but unmistakably, something was silhouetted on the crests and peaks of the waves. And it sure looked a whole lot like a person.
But because people can’t really float upright on water–as fishermen, they’re confident of this–their minds vault to the supernatural: A ghost.
They’ve had a supernatural day already. This rabbi they’ve been following suddenly turned one boy’s lunch from home–a few wrapped, crusty loaves, some fish–into a feast satisfying thousands. With leftovers.
It still makes no sense, aside from knowing Him, and they’ve had these wee hours to think on it. Their long day devolved into a long night. And now, the ghost is saying, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
They still don’t know what to make of it, here in the unpolluted dark, their brains scrabbling for purchase.
But Peter–always Peter–gets the wildest idea. If it’s you, tell me to come to you.
The rest of them might be thinking, Said no one ever, at 3 AM when the other person is walking on water.
The Split Decision
You know the story. But it’s interesting. When Jesus finally asks Peter, “Why did you doubt?”, the Greek word for doubt implies a double-mindedness–like a person at a crossroads, not knowing where to go.
On one side, the miracle maker. The voice of love and wonder, calling Peter to something no human has ever even imagined would succeed on nothing but faith.
On the other side, the swells that have threatened small vessels like this since Peter could remember.
If you were Peter, what would be the wind, pulling your face from supernatural trust, supernatural adventure?
The Bible seems to have so much to say about double-mindedness.
- It leads to instability in everything (James 1:5-6), undermining our wisdom and trust.
- The Psalmist prays for God to unite his heart to fear God’s name (Psalm 86:11).
- God, in the Shema prayer spoken by Israel (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and elsewhere), says the Lord is “One.”
- References to purity in the Bible often imply something or someone being “of a single substance.”
As you discern God’s will, what could it look like for you to follow him–whether overseas, or not–with one mind, one heart, loving him with all of yourself (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)?
A commenter pointed out wisely in the previous batch of questions, “We do need to count the cost but at the same time not be afraid to go where God would have us go.”
Mic drop. That pretty much sums it up.
More Journaling/Prayer questions as you discern God’s will
- What spiritual rhythms help me listen to God’s mind and heart: fasting, solitude, meditation, prayer… How can I carve out space to first seek God, then his will?
- What Bible verses particularly influence my particular decision, and why?
- How much do I know about the history, culture, and felt needs of this people group? What do I need to learn? When I pray for them, what does God seem to do within me? (Don’t miss Pray for Your Mission Field: 10 Ways [Printable]).
- What do I think brings God pleasure in the way I’m thinking about this? Which of my thoughts aligns with his heart on this issue, joining him in his work? If I didn’t go, in what ways would my heart be aligning with his?
What appetites, attitudes, addictions, insecurities, or fears are influencing me right now? (Pray through Psalm 139:23-24.)
- What aptitudes, skills, and gifts of mine (or my family) could be powerfully used for God’s Kingdom overseas?
- What is most challenging about this decision for me? Is it possible this situation doesn’t have a clear indication of what’s best? (Check out God’s Will–and the Clarity I Didn’t Have.)
- Can I do this as a happy offering to God–or am I doing it because it’s expected of me in some way? (If so, by whom?)
- How will I know if I’ve made the right choice? (Is it possible I can “fail,” or things can go horribly wrong, and I will still have made the right decision?)
- As I discern God’s will–how might this decision affect those closest to me, for better and possibly for worse? How do I sense God responding to those possibilities?
- At times, God’s will for certain people in the Bible didn’t seem logical (Gideon, Elisha, John the Baptist…). What role does wisdom play in this decision for me? What role does faith play (though these aren’t mutually exclusive)?
- Jesus understood what he would suffer–yet chose the cross “for the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:3). In light of the potential challenges, fears, or losses I face, what is the greater beauty and promise to which God beckons me?
- What emotions do I feel as I discern God’s will? If those are my “dashboard lights”–what’s going on that’s causing those feelings?
- What would it look like to love God with all of myself?