Telling the story of Jesus and Peter, John Ortberg says: ‘If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat’.
He expressed a familiar belief. We should dream big dreams; we can be anything that we want to be; we can be that extraordinary person who achieves the extraordinary.
Christians add the dimension of a good God, who can work miracles and wants the best for us, and with whom nothing is impossible.
I believe all of that. Especially the last bit.
However, it was some relief when Jeff Lucas said: ‘It’s OK to stay in the boat when others walk on water.’
I don’t have to be an Indiana-Jones-Superman character who is amazing all of the time. It’s OK to be ordinary.
Bible-world describes contrasts: sheep or goats, darkness or light, dark death valleys or lush green pastures.
This is repeated in today’s world– you are an achiever or a failure, a worker or a scrounger, a winner or a loser, gifted and talented or special needs.
And yet you can’t have extremes without the ordinary, the average, the crowd scene actor who doesn’t seek to be a star.
I’m content to be of average health – not very sick in hospital or super-fit. Mentally and emotionally I’m content to be neither on excitement’s mountaintop nor depression’s valley.
I am content with the ordinary gentle voice rather than the dramatic earthquake, wind or fire.
St Paul’s: ‘I can do everything through him who gives me strength’ is sometimes quoted with Rambo-like abandon. In its context it’s balanced with ‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.’
Gifts of love, joy, peace, faith, compassion, empathy and hope don’t only come to the needy or the gifted – they come to the ordinary.
It’s OK to be ordinary.
John Ortberg: ‘If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat’ (2001)
Jeff Lucas: ‘Staying in the Boat’ (2018)
St Paul: Philippians 4:11-12