Many years ago, a bold disciple dared to step out of the boat.
Sound familiar? This story of the apostle Peter is talked about quite a lot. I can’t count the number of sermons, lessons, devotions I’ve heard or read about it. Various teachers have focused on everything from Peter’s boldness in stepping out to his error in taking his eyes off Jesus.
But, what if we’ve all missed the point?
Oh, not that those lessons we’ve heard aren’t good ones. We should cultivate the faith and discover the courage to get out of the boat when Jesus calls. And we need to keep our eyes on Jesus as we journey through this life, particularly when we are following his lead in places out side our abilities.
But, imagine for must a moment, we’ve all missed a much more basic lesson. A more important truth.
This past fall was a season of trials and obstacles for me.
In my personal life, we had two kids struggling to find jobs, two cars required new tires, our rental house needed a new roof and the one we live in needed some minor repairs, the older pet needed put down while another faced a health issue that requires daily medication. Do you see the money flying out our front door?
My professional life also faced difficulties. My assistant and I had numerous problems releasing my newest non-fiction, I’ve Got Jesus…Now What?, like we’ve never experienced with other book releases. I encountered some stern criticism over social media and in person on a couple different topics close to my heart – nothing outright ugly, I suppose, but with people who were not seeking understanding or filled with grace. I struggled over how to respond to whether I should just let it go.
To top it all off, as I began planning my calendar for 2018, I had to take time to consider if God wanted me to continue serving in two ministries that I love. Was it time to bow out and trust Him to raise someone up to take my place? Or did I need to find more discipline, more carefully guard my time, and hold my course?
More than once, I felt like I was losing ground. Like the problems were bigger than I could sludge my way through. Like God had asked too much, entrusted too much, to this very inadequate creation of His.
I was out of the boat. The waves felt overwhelmingly big, and it seemed like I was sinking. I strained to focus on Jesus, reminded myself to keep my eyes on Him. But it didn’t feel like enough. Why was I still struggling with so many heart-wrenching issues?
And that’s when something in the story about Peter walking on the water jumped out at me. The story is found in Matthew 14:22-23 and I recommend you read the entire passage, but the verses I’m focusing on are 28-31.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
So, what truths can we pull out from these four verses? At least three, two of them familiar to anyone who’s studied this story.
- Yes, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and put them on the storm. It’s our natural, human inclination. For whatever reason, we tend to see negative things easily.
- Yes, Jesus asked Peter about his doubt. Faith is a critical element to accomplishing everything God wants us to do in this life. But, there’s at least one more lesson to see here.
- Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him. Jesus never took his eyes off Peter. Jesus knew the wind and the waves would draw his disciple’s attention, so He stayed close – close enough to immediately be able to reach out and touch Peter.
What if this third lesson was the main point Jesus wanted to drill into Peter’s heart and mind? What if Jesus wanted Peter to try, to stretch his faith, to reach for the impossible no matter what circumstances looked like, and in the process realize that when doubts and fears attacked, Jesus would still be there, ready to rescue him.
I believe this lesson gave Peter strength to do some of the feats that we admire him for today. From preaching to a crowd on the Day of Pentecost to his final moments before martyrdom, Peter knew better than anyone else in the boat that stormy day that Jesus stood ready to help him.
As I look at the obstacles around me right now, I realize that I am not failing. While I could probably fine-tune my focus and kick out a few more doubts, I’m learning the lessons of faith. I’m seeing my Savior’s hand extended, grasping me firmly so the waves do not overpower me.
Bio: God rewrote Carrie’s dreams to include being an author. With a background in weekly devotions, a mentor and several friends encouraged her to try fiction. The writing monster that she now barely keeps contained was born. Since then, she completed several books including her new romantic suspense, the Embers series. To learn more about her books, follow this link: http//carriedaws.com/my-books/