As I was praying today the Lord brought the story of Jesus walking on the water to mind. I love how no matter how many times I read the Bible, the Holy Spirit can always highlight something new, often speaking right to my heart. Today was no different.
As I thought about this story, the Lord reminded me of the reason He went out to the boat in the first place. Matthew 14:24 says “But the boat was now in the middle of the sea,tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.” Another account in Mark 6:48 says Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.” Jesus saw them struggling and went out to help them. This struggling is the part I’d never noticed before.
Here were the disciples, already exhausted and now they’re straining with all they’ve got to try to get their boat back home. Ever been there? I know I have. (It kind of reminds me of when I’m trying to get my kids home from church on a Wednesday night! God help us!) So there they are straining to get home and someone spots Jesus. Their reactions are intriguing and somewhat comical. This is not the first time they’ve been with Jesus in a storm. Remember that nap He tried to take? Only to be interrupted by the disciples afraid they might all die? They saw him calm the seabefore, surely as soon as they saw him, there would be nothing but rejoicing! Nope, they thought he was a ghost. Understandably so I suppose. It’s not like people are seen walking on water everyday. Then again, this is Jesus we’re talking about! And then there’s Peter. Oh how I love Peter! Peter gets excited. “Lord, if it’s you have me come out on the waters with you.” “Come,” Jesus replied.
Pause for just a second and take a look at the other disciples. Remember the storm is still going on along with that struggling. If Peter lets go, that means more work for them! And what is he doing anyway? Does he expect them to try to fish him out if that’s not Jesus? Come on Peter get back to work! We’ve got a job to do, our lives to save, families to get home to, and we need your help!
Or maybe some of them were wondering if they could come too?
I don’t know what was really going on, but I do know that of all the disciples straining with the oars, Peter is the only one who let go, pressed into Jesus, and responded to His invitation. For one moment of greatness He chose to step out on the waves in response to His master’s call and even though he may have gotten fearful, let’s not forget the result: Peter was carried by Jesus back to the boat and the wind completely stopped, along with their struggle. I call that an incredible reward!
This challenges and encourages me so much! I find in my own life that it’s easiest and feels safest to continue doing things, even if they’re a struggle, rather than to let go of control and wait on the instruction of the Lord. Realizing that I don’t have to be perfect in this pursuit, that He rewards my steps of faith, carries me when I stumble, and helps me get where I need to be, all the while holding me close: Wow. That’s worth dancing about! Reading through this story with new eyes, I see that the safest place was not in the boat. There was no guarantee that the disciples’ struggle against the storm would have eventually gotten them home. Scary though it may seem, the safest place was with Jesus.
As my husband and I navigate life with five kids, a brand new business, and life often throwing the unexpected our way, the temptation is to grasp tightly to anything we can hold onto. That’s not the kind of life that God has called us to live though. It might not feel like the safe thing to do, but in truth, my own way is actually the liability. When I choose to follow Jesus, even if I make a misstep, freak out and start to fear, He’s always right there to stretch out a hand and get me right where I need to be.
Here’s something else I noticed! At the end of the experience, Matthew 14:33 says “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him saying Truly You are the Son of God.” It’s funny how they’d seen Him calm the storm before and wondered in awe at His power. They saw Him walking on the water alone and responded in fear thinking He was a ghost. But when one of their own had the faith to follow Him and do the impossible right before their eyes, then they worshipped and believed. Maybe all it takes is one of us, willing to let go and walk out in faith, to help those around us recognize Jesus for who He really is.
Does this make anyone else want to get out of the boat? What oars do you need to let go of in order to step out in faith and trust?