Souls who follow their hearts thrive;
fools bent on evil despise matters of soul.
~Proverbs 13:19 (MSG)
Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared to death. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror. But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!” ~Matthew 14:24-33 (MSG)
While reflecting on and journaling about Proverbs 13:19 for weeks, I heard a devotion on this passage from Matthew 14. As I listened, I wondered about the matters within the disciples’ souls. How desperate were their longings for a calm sea? How deep was their desire for comfort? How did Peter really feel when he got back into the boat? How did he hear Jesus words, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” Based on my own desperations and insecurities, I would have felt foolish.
There was no foolishness or evil in Peter, who followed his heart out of the boat and seemingly jumped at the chance to feel the churning waves beneath his feet. There is no denying that Peter’s heart fainted for a split second. But for me Peter will now always be the one disciple wise enough to know that it is not everyday one gets invited to walk on water with God’s Son.
And there is no doubting, Peter denied Jesus at the time of his crucifixion. However, Peter is also the disciple who payed attention to his soul’s desire and in return experienced God in a very unique way. The book of Proverbs offers practical wisdom about life and relationships, including relationship with God. Paying attention to matters of the soul, brings clarity to our experience of God so that our hearts can thrive.
PS. I wrote this May 2nd. On May 3rd my father-in-law had a massive heart attack and on May 7th passed away. In helping to plan his graveside and memorial services, I learned that this verse in Proverbs was both his and his father’s favorite verse. I wonder now how often it was quoted in his childhood home on Liberty Street in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
PPS. And so it is, these words have had to wait for a postscript to be added while I tended to the matters of my own soul and other details. Those other details included writing an article about spiritual direction and preaching a sermon on The Cross. It was impossible for my experiences of God during these past two months to not be part of my writing and speaking. Below are links to both.
I pray they deepen your understanding of spiritual direction and the Cross’s invitation to lament our losses with humility and hope.