Can I tell you that 40 days of self-examination and improvements in spiritual discipline sound about as appealing as a root canal? I’m good with some introspection as long as it is quick and results-oriented. When it comes to what I have to do internally to change, I’m prone to the quick fix and a single point solution. Frankly, when change is needed on many fronts, it is so much easier for me to become indecisive and, therefore, do nothing. I like the intellectual exercise of exploring all those things but trying to work on them requires diligence and intentionality. I get too involved in planning the outcome of intentions that I fail to actually do the intentions. Did I mention that it is just downright hard work?
So it’s raining hard, and the water is choppy, and the boat is probably rocking and pitching. Peter puts his foot out on Jesus’ invitational command. He is doing it, walking on the water, fixated on Jesus. Then his focus shifts, and fear and disbelief take over, and he begins to sink. Jesus, of course, pulls him up and in and asks, “Why did you doubt?” How many times I have looked back over the course of time and asked that exact question, “Why did I doubt?” Most of the time my doubts or fears come from looking too far down the road.
The anticipation of things to come can be exciting. The creative process of taking nothing and making something involves some idea of what the desired outcome is hoped to be, but even that requires the first step in doing. You can’t get to the end of something if you don’t get going. Fear and anxiety from a myriad of places can, and do, enter. As I allow myself to be taken away from the matter at hand by pondering the end goal, I falter. Jesus repeatedly teaches us to focus on the here and now. The future to come will be influenced by what we do now. Consequence is a natural law. He tells us the kingdom is here, but not yet. If I live that, then I’m concerned with doing the next right thing and anxiety is vanquished. That peace, that ability to be present and open is the promise of what will be. How often do I want that and think about that but don’t allow myself to focus on “the now” to get there.
So during this Lenten period, my self-examination is a bit like being on a tightrope. I’m balancing for the most part. I want to get to the other side. You know the only way I’m going to get there is to put my foot forward. Like Peter, I need to take that step, plant it firmly and confidently, and get my bearings. Take a deep breath and then do it all again. Unlike Peter, I can’t let myself focus on the wind of fear and anxiety. Disciple work is hard. Change can be hard. But I can’t progress without it; this is a walk after all. Now if I can just stop fixating on what type of shoes I need to actually do the walk