The story is found in Matthew 14:22-32. You know it. The disciples are in a boat far from land. It is night and there is a storm. Jesus is not with them. Last they knew He was away praying. The men struggle through the night, then, near dawn they see Jesus… on the water… walking toward them! Terrified, they think it a ghost but Jesus calls out “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (v.27).
With the Lord’s permission Peter steps out… onto the water. It supports him! He begins to step toward Christ, eyes fixed upon Him. One step, two, three. Soon he is as far from the boat as he is to Jesus. He sees the waves, the storm, thinks for a second of the impossibility of what he is doing! He begins to sink.
Peter was “in over his head” and the only way out was to “lay hold” on Christ, to submit to His strength and His solution. Peter was “in over his head” and his only way out was to be “out under Christ’s Head.” Jesus was already reaching down, already responding to Peter’s two word shout. Peter had only to reach up, to grasp hold of, and present himself to be grasped by, Christ.
Paul’s new life ambition was similar. He wrote, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Phil. 3:12). Paul had learned he needed to “lay hold” of Christ not only for salvation, or when “in over his head,” but daily, moment by moment, as a way of life… as a way of self death. As he explained to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).
We must “let go” of self to “lay hold” of Christ. Augustine once said, “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.”
It is a simple thing really. So simple a two-year-old can grasp it… grasp Him.
“Abide in Me,” said Jesus. That means live in Me. Stay living in Me. Live your life out of that abiding place. Saint Patrick put it like this:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
The Christian (Christ-ian) has been “raised with Christ.” His sinful (sin-filled) self has no place in heaven. It is dead — and it is dying. Now your life is something new — is becoming something new. Now “…you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3).
It is a simple thing: Grasp Jesus!