The other day, I was discussing some of the ups and downs of my career with my mom. As a parent, I can worry about how I will provide for my my family and how I will prepare for the future, whatever that brings. Now, although my mom goes to a different church than I do, she has the same Bible readings every Sunday. She listened to my concerns and repeated the story of Jesus calling out Peter to walk on the water.
As Peter saw Jesus and heard his voice, he came out of the boat and began to walk toward Him. Then, however, he looked around at the wind, and began to sink. He cried out for the Lord to save him, which He did.
My mom’s comment was that it’s easy for us to look at the circumstances of our lives and become disturbed. The focus of our faith is The Savior, Jesus Christ. He is in the midst of this with us.
Her words truly encouraged me.
It also caused me to look more closely at this passage. The conditions were not the best for the disciples in the boat:
22 “Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea” (Matthew 14, ESV)
I have seen a magician try to replicate walking on water, but he is only able to do so in a pool which is far more shallow and calm than a raging sea. He used lucite boxes to cross from one end to the other, but he had to be very careful to find his steps.
Jesus is walking on a raging, wind-beaten sea that is punishing the boat the disciples are in. Jesus Christ is in the midst of a storm, and yet, He calmly walks on the water. What can we say, but “My Lord and My God”!? His action defies human explanation:
26 “But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’.”
Can you imagine some guy walking on the water in the middle of the terrible storm depicted in “The Perfect Storm”? You would think something you ate has somehow affected your mental clarity. You would think that someone is projecting an image onto the ocean. You wouldn’t believe, you would think you were deceived.
Yet, Jesus not only walks to them, but in the midst of their fear, He tells them (as He told Joshua “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”[Joshua 1:9]) “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid”. He is feeding their faith even as He is participating in a miraculous event.
Peter reflects this encouragement by acting out on the faith that Jesus imbued him with. Jesus says to him, “Come”.
Here in the U.S., we are experiencing the ups and downs of an unstable economy. One day, the stocks are up, the next they’re down. Experts are telling everyone to “ride out” the economic storm that is hitting. It’s hard to do, though, especially if you see your retirement is getting decimated.
You might be experiencing the storm of trouble in a relationship, unemployment, the deep doubt of faith, or serious physical illness. Perhaps a loved one is being tossed this way and that in a difficult situation.
Take heart! Do not be afraid! Jesus is already in the middle of the worst part of the storm. He is in the middle of the worst trouble you can imagine. Jesus is not afraid of trouble. He walks right into it, and declares Himself the Lord over it.
Think about it. What could be more unpredictable than a wind-blown sea? Would you want to be on the water in a boat? Even a big boat? But Jesus beckons Peter to “Come”. Come into the midst of the wind and waves. Come into the pain, suffering and death. Come into life’s failures, trials and difficulties.
This is not the call to create our own problems, but it is the beckoning of a savior who is in the middle of the ones we are entering into, and is not afraid. In fact, He is Lord over them. He dominates them. He is victorious, and reigns, even over the atmospheric conditions. He is the one saying “come on in in, the water is nice”, even though it looks like it could kill us.
And, even if we, like Peter, become disturbed in the midst of it, and lose faith, Jesus remains faithful to save. He will never leave you or forsake you.
In the end, the disciples on the boat saw the wind stop as He came into the boat and then worshiped Him. He displayed a mastery over the weather and the water.
He could end your trials in an instant. But this Jesus is looking to build and strengthen your faith and mine. He cannot do this in our comfort, but must work it out in conditions that seem impossible. Jesus is the living God who calls you and I into difficult conditions to show us that He is not only there to comfort us, but He is the Lord over all. He declared this at the cross when He said, “It is finished”. Our God is the Almighty Storm-dominating, Water-walking, Faith-encouraging Savior. Even now.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
P.S. Thanks again, mom