Walking on Water

March, 1997

Peter had it easy.

...he was only trying to walk on water.

So I walk in the door Saturday night after playing in the band at church, and Marcela points obscurely - though ominously - in the direction of the kitchen window.

"What?" I say.

She points again.

I set my guitar down and and peer around the corner - to see a black, jagged hole where a pane of glass once was. Cold night air is rushing in.

Well, it turns out Blackie had gotten loose (for the second time that day), and somehow in the frenzy to capture him, Manuel had tossed a basketball through the window.

(HOW that could have happened wasn't exactly clear!)

A few days earlier the dog had chewed up Dionel's retainer. This, remember, after he had dispatched Manuel's glasses.

Now it is Thursday morning and Manuel is refusing to go to school. He got his nose all out of joint because I got mad at him for teasing Pepe - or something - no one really knew what his problem was. But now he is lying in bed refusing to get dressed.

What do you do?

"OH YES YOU *ARE* GOING TO SCHOOL, MR.!" That type of thing? And he says, "No!" So you tell him he is grounded. He says, "I don't care." Next thing you know he is grounded until his 32nd birthday.

I told myself to be calm. And tried to reason with him. I asked him what was wrong, but he just pulled the blankets over his head. Then I got mad and grabbed him by the arm and told him he was going to listen to me, and said, "You're not my real father."

Well, I am desperately behind on a project and I had only two hours sleep (and just two hours the night before that), and I just didn't have the energy to deal with this. Fortunately Dani happened to have the morning off from work, so I left it to her to deal with him. I was at a complete loss anyway.

Finally around 8:00 o'clock he walks into the kitchen, grabs his book bag without saying a word and opens the back door to leave - without first checking to make sure the dog wasn't going to make a break for it. Next thing I know there is Blackie squeezing between Manuel and the door - and in one of those slow-motion instants, he is gone.

I grab a hot dog and chase after him, but it is no use - Blackie is on to that game!

He won't come anywhere near me, he just runs circles around me close enough to taunt me, then tears off to another yard. I had him cornered once, and made a dive for him, but missed (ruining yet another pair of pants in the process. That's three now - I have none left!). He took off around the front of the neighbor's house, and by the time I get around the corner, he is no where in sight.

Well, that's it. He is gone.

It was nice while it lasted. Well, sort of nice, if you discount the peeing and the pooping and the destroyed possessions...

So the dog is gone, Manuel hates me, and it is not even 8:30 in the morning yet.

Is this how life is supposed to be? Just one misery after another?

I sat at the end of my bed with my head in my hands, beginning to wonder if I wasn't Job reincarnated.

God are you really there?

I wanted to believe God was there, but it sure doesn't seem like it. And I desperately wrestled with my lack of faith.

But our life seems so out of control. Nothing seems to be working, Murphy's Law is operating in full vigor (whatever CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong).

I am exhausted, at the end of myself. My best efforts have come to nothing. I don't know what to do anymore.

A couple of nights before I was sitting here, staring blankly at the computer, feeling miserable, emotionally and physically spent, just wanting to run away.

Then I remembered the story of Peter walking on the water.

He was drowning - and the problem - as I have heard a hundred times before - was that he had taken his eyes off Jesus. Instead of seeing Jesus, all he saw was the water all around him, and the waves lapping at his feet. And down he went.

And I realized that is exactly what is happening to me. I am drowning too. And it's because I have taken my eyes off Jesus.

But then I remembered this.

When the waters rushed over Peter's head, he cried out to Jesus.

And Jesus reached out, took him in his strong arms, and rescued him.


by Paul Dallgas-Frey
(slightly revised, 2003)

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