Friday, July 20, 2012

Feeding Kittens and Walking on Water

"Elvis" and the girls
"Dolly" and Amanda
About 3 years ago, our family took a vacation to Branson, Missouri. This, so far, is the only real family vacation out of the state that we have ever taken. It was a vacation full of so many fun times and memories that still make me smile. We visited a Titanic museum. We met "Elvis" and "Dolly" and they happened to be married to each other. We visited a classic car museum and made a trip to Silver Dollar City. The girls even rode down a giant hill in this huge hamster ball with water in it!  One of my favorite memories from that trip happened even before we ever made it to Branson and  it came to my mind the other day while I was driving to a friend's house.

Yes, my girls are inside with 15 gallons of water!

At the time, Amanda was 10 and Kaitlyn was 14. We drove to Missouri and I remember we left fairly early that morning. Trey made us some pigs-in-a-blanket to take with us for breakfast. (I know you are wondering  what that has to do with anything, but it is crucial to the story, trust me.) We actually did pretty well since we had left so early and the girls slept a lot of the way that morning. One stop we made at a Love's truck stop for gas and a potty break. Amanda was sound asleep and said she didn't need to get out, so the rest of us took turns stretching our legs and taking care of business.

While Trey was inside, I noticed this sweet little gray kitten by the entrance. Someone had given it a little bowl of water but of course it was meowing to every person who passed by. I thought we could spare a pig-in-a-blanket, so we gave it one to munch on. It was apparently very hungry as it scarfed the pig down in record time. Shortly, we all hopped back into the car and were back on our way to Missouri. Amanda never even budged; she loves her sleep.

Our next stop was somewhere in Arkansas for lunch at Arby's. We all got out, stretched and ordered lunch. It was really nice to sit and enjoy time together, just the four of us, as a family. While we were eating I told Amanda, "Hey, you missed it at the gas station when we stopped and you were asleep; there was this cute little kitten!" Amanda replied with the expected, "Aww." Then I said, " Yes, I even fed it a pig." Amanda's eyes grew wide with surprise and she had this amazed look on her face as she repeated, "YOU FED IT A PIG?" She was utterly astonished! We, well we were confused. So I said slowly, "Yes, I fed it a pig." all the time wondering what was going through her mind. As a matter of fact, Trey and Kaitlyn had also stopped eating for a few seconds and were studying Amanda's face for a sign of what the amazement was all about. So there we sat for a second or two, waiting for her to fill in the blanks for us.
Amanda on our road trip to Missouri (wow she has changed so much since then!)

Suddenly Amanda's expression changed from astonishment to puzzlement and she looked at me, tilted her head in that sweet, puzzled  puppy look and said, " Wait, what's 'feddit' ?" Once it registered with the rest of us that she thought the words 'fed' and 'it' were all one and had absolute no clue what I had subsequently done to the kitten or to the ill-fated mystery swine, we all shared quite a laugh. I am sure the rest of Arby's wondered what the crazy family from Texas found so funny in their Arkansas eatery. (You can write your own punchline here.) Once I had calmed my urge to begin laughing again and had explained that I had given the kitten a pig-in-a-blanket to eat, I was struck with the irony of her amazement. I laughingly said to my daughter, "What makes it more funny is that you were so shocked and surprised and yet you had no idea what 'feddit' was." She very quickly and earnestly replied, "Well, that's because I thought maybe you had mixed up your words and you meant to say you had petted a fig." Silence for a split second and then laughter erupts again. What else could we do? I have no explanation for Amanda's quick wit other than I think she gets it from my brother. Often, like this particular instance, she makes us laugh and smile without even trying. It is just one of the endearing things about my youngest daughter.

As I was driving the other day, this story came to mind and with it a strange new correlation. It was easy for me to recognize that God was giving me something specific to write about. I went home and looked up the scripture that God placed in my mind: Matthew 14:22-31. This is the well-known story of Jesus walking on water and then Peter taking a turn walking on the waves. Only this time as I read it, I thought of Peter a little differently. I sort of imagine Peter a little like Amanda.

Matthew 14:22-31
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

I can almost picture Peter's face start out with excitement and even astonishment as he takes those first few steps, as though he was thinking,"Yes! He said I could!" Then suddenly he looks up at Jesus and says his own version of, "What's feddit?" resulting in a break in the childlike faith he had just embraced. He was wholeheartedly involved in the conversation between he and the Lord and had bought into the idea of walking on the water until the confusion set in and he thought, "What? Oh my gosh, what am I doing? This is impossible!"  His first jump out of the boat, his eagerness to show the Father his excitement oh so quickly turned to questions and doubt and with that he began to sink.

I know it is not an exact comparison, but the emotions and thought process I imagine are very similar. Amanda was bought completely into the amazing feat that I had 'feddit' a pig- whatever that was. She was so excited and beyond ready to hear all about it, and then she thought, "What in the world is my mom talking about? What's feddit?" I imagine the same series of expressions crossed Peter's face. I even wonder if a disciple or two chuckled at Peter's "mistake"? Of course we are endeared to our daughter through this story. Not just in spite of her error but because of it. How much more was God endeared to Peter that at least he was eager to jump from the boat to walk out to the Savior?

On the flip side, I also wonder how it is for God to hear that same question of doubt over and over from His children. He wants us to be so excited and astonished about what His plans are that we step out of the boat with no reservations. What I think He wants even more is for us to be able to push past those reservations when they do arise and continue to step out on faith. I don't think He gets too tired of hearing our doubts because as long as we bring them to God, then we are showing our faith in Him. I think what is more upsetting to our Savior is when we stop bringing our doubts to Him. We should never be afraid to let God know we are nervous or worried or even doubt. I mean, you do realize He already knows it, right? As long as we continue to bring our weaknesses to His feet, Christ will continue to use those weaknesses for His glory!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Sometimes it is working through the confusion that we learn the most. We usually learn more from mistakes than successes if we will work to see and correct the mistake (a little something that is true in my math class as well as life). Of course, God may chastise us a little like he did Peter in verse 31, but it is with the love of a Father. Reread verse 31 above. Doesn't it almost sound like Jesus is shaking his head and saying, "Silly Peter, you just watched me. Don't you know I will hold you up?" I know I have been in Peter's proverbial water shoes too many times to count. Thank goodness Christ has never given up on me. So many times I have started to step out on faith in excitement and astonishment only to look up and say my own insecure version of, "Wait, what's feddit?" Praise God that everyday I have the chance to step out again and my doubting of the past becomes mere stepping stones to water-walking of the future.

So what is your "feddit"? You know that thing that is so intriguing and exciting that God wants you to jump up and be involved in but as soon as you take a step or two you start to question your sanity. Whatever it is, don't be so stuck on it but use it to move forward for Christ! All he needs is your eager desire to follow His lead. Don't get so caught up in the whispers of doubt in your ear from the enemy. Stay focused on your Father's outstretched hand and you will be amazed at the things He will accomplish that you never could.

Blessed more than I deserve,