But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here.”Matthew 14:27
There comes a time in all of our spiritual walks where we begin to feel like Peter did while on his walk with Jesus. We get so pumped up with our faith that we can’t help but say, “I would never deny you, Lord,” or, “Yes, Jesus, I believe I could walk on water because you are here!” Our pride in our faith becomes so immense that we want to prove to Jesus that we are his best disciple. So often though, we also follow suit with Peter, who was known for sticking his foot in his mouth. I sometimes get a chuckle out of the confidence that Peter possessed in himself, but then I am quickly snapped back to reality remembering how many times I’ve been there. How easy it is to let our pride in our faith get in the way of our faith.
While I was flipping through the Bible I found myself in pause with the story of Peter attempting to walk on water. It struck me, as most things have been lately, as having a deeper meaning than just Peter loosing faith in the fact that Jesus was allowing him to walk on water. I love how the Bible can create books worth of meaning within a handful of verses. I am not going to write a book today, but the verses that stood out in particular were:
“Yes come,” Jesus said. So peter went over the side of the boat and walked on water towards Jesus. But when he saw the strong winds and waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. -Matthew 14: 29:30
I think this small section has a way of capturing most of our seasons of faith perfectly within its few select words. I wish I didn’t have to use the concept of seasons to describe our faith, but as any of us know who have been believers for a while – no matter how much we are committed to Jesus – we tend to wax and wane just as much as the moon. Let’s take a moment to break these verses down nearly word for word as each one has more meaning than the next.
If you are a follower of Christ, you’ve had this moment in your life. Maybe it was at church, maybe it was in a time of prayer, maybe you were on a walk. You hear it or feel it. Jesus is alive and He is asking you to seek him! You hear the call and your faith shoots through the roof. The creator of all things has beckoned you and you cant help but to feel all of your fear melt away. In that moment you feel the warmth, you feel the fire of the holy spirit lit, and you are ready to come to wherever Jesus is leading you to.
So peter went over to the side of the boat...
You start signing up for food drives, soup kitchens, helping with your churches nursery. You don’t know what, but you are wanting to do whatever you think you can do to show that you are a follower of Jesus. You heard the call to come, and you are going. You’re not sure what to expect when you get there, but you are stepping up and stepping forward. You are showing that you will be obedient.
…and walked on the water towards Jesus
Put up or shut up. Jesus calls you out of your comfort zone, and you are so lit up in your faith that you go for it even if you don’t want to. You have spent enough time feeling the spiritual blessings of doing good works for Jesus that you trust that the Lord will protect you no matter what he asks you to do! It may be sharing your testimony to a congregation, or helping start a new church. It may be going on a mission trip half way across the globe, or walking into a prison to minister. It’s going to be risky, and its up to your faith in Jesus alone to give you the courage to say yes! You do and it works! You are doing what you never thought possible of yourself!
But when he saw the strong winds and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.
It doesn’t matter what miracles you’ve seen in your life. It doesn’t matter how many times God reveals Himself to you. This world is full of evil, and it has always been there. Just like the storm was still going when Peter chose to jump off the boat. He was already committed to his decision to follow Jesus out on the water, knowing that the storm was all around him. Even in our highest moments of faith – sometimes especially – the storm can catch our eye. A loved one dies unexpectedly, a job is lost, a diagnosis of cancer is revealed. There are any number of things, but never-the-less we catch a glimpse of the evil around us and we start to lose faith that Jesus is there leading us to him. Some just lose faith in the goodness of God, some lose faith in God all together. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, don’t hold your spiritual nose high up in the air. I hate to burst your bubble, but it will happen to you.
“Save me, Lord!” He shouted.
For some of us this is the beginning of our seasonal cycle, for others of us this comes after we start to sink. We’ve sunk. We fell short, we ended up in the pit. (A short story I wrote about this season.) We aren’t even sure how we went from walking on water to sinking, but we can feel our head fall below the water. We have forgotten how to swim and we start to flail. The waves begin to crash over us as we try to breath and we don’t know what else to do. In desperation we cry out, “Lord, save me!” and what comes next is my favorite part!
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.
Yes, that’s right. Jesus didn’t wait. He didn’t decide to weigh out if Peter had learned his lesson. He didn’t question if Peters faith would be restored if he saved him. He just reached out and saved him. No questions asked. Before anything else could happen Jesus plucked him from the water the moment Peter asked. This is the moment that creates so many powerful testimonies. This is the addict that got clean. This is the convict that found Jesus in prison. This is the suicide survivor who lived so that they could serve. In these moments we truly understand who Jesus is. Jesus is our savior. He loves us and He is extending his hand out as soon as we ask.
I know, it is a hard reality to face, and like Peter we all want to think that our love for Jesus, our faith in his power, is absolute and on a cruise control. We don’t want to admit that we have moments where our faith begins to fade. We don’t want to admit that we have times where we forget to put full trust in the Lord. We do this because pride tells us that we fail if we admit that we fall. The thing is though that Jesus knows us as well as he knew Peter. He knows we are going to sink in the water. He knows that we will deny him at some point. He knows that while we want to strive to stand out above and beyond the other disciples we are only human. I think the important thing to understand though is that these seasons are like a wheel, and even though sometimes the spokes seem to be going backwards, as long as the wheel is still moving forward, that is what matters.