“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.” [Matthew 14: 27-29 NKJV]
Picture the scene. For hours the disciples have been battling the wind and waves of a severe storm on the Sea of Galilee. They are swamped with water. The little fishing boat is filling with water.
They know they are going to die.
Suddenly they see a figure walking over the sea towards them. He calls a greeting to them. The sequence of Jesus’s greeting is significant. First He tells them to be of good cheer. Then He identifies Himself. Then He tells them to not be afraid.
Imagine you were in that boat. Soaked, half dead from exhaustion. Now this figure defies everything you know from years of working the sea and walks to you over the surface of the water. Which way would you lean?
Eleven of the disciples go the “sane” route. They cling to the mast, the bulkhead, anything that’s still in one piece on the boat.
Peter calls out to Jesus.
Be careful what you say to God in times of trouble. Peter says “If it is you”. He paints Jesus into a corner. He forces God’s hand. Jesus can either deny Himself or call Peter to Him. “Come”.
The other eleven must have thought Peter had lost his mind as he climbs out of the sinking boat. But then imagine their incredulity as Peter walks on top of the water, just as Jesus was doing. He looks Jesus in the eye and walks towards Him. He’s nearly there when he realises what he’s doing and fear starts to grip him.
But immediately as Peter begins to sink, Jesus has His hand there to lift him out. Immediately.
They return to the boat and climb back in.
Hang on… They return to the boat? How often this little nugget gets missed in the story. They don’t teleport. There’s no cry of “Beam me up, James”. They return to the boat, walking on the water. The storm lifts as they climb into the vessel. Peter returns with Jesus to the boat.
He walks back.
Calling to Jesus in his desperation restores his Faith. The miracle of walking on water is restored. Presumably he walks either hand-in-hand with Jesus or alongside Him. But he walks.
Every day I get up out of bed to face the day. It’s not easy. I suffer several major illnesses that by God’s strength in me are not getting worse for the first time in years. I trust in time I will see improvement and eventually healing for all of them, but for now I have to fight these agents of the Enemy every morning. I start my day with tea, eggs and medication. If I don’t, diabetes causes me to feel too ill to function, my mind cannot focus as ADD takes hold and I sink into deep depression.
I have my storms. You have yours. Maybe you don’t have the daily reminders I do, but you have your storms. They may be financial. Like me, they may be illnesses. They could be a feeling of helplessness as you are forced to watch someone you love suffer with terminal sickness.
We all have our storms. And we all have our boats.
But Jesus walks over the very things trying to kill us. Just as He walked over the sea through the storm to the disciples, He walks to us through the middle of our battles. Just as He called to Peter “Come” He calls to us. He calls us out of the storm. He reminds us we are not subject to the wind and waves, that they are subject to Him.
If we listen.
Faith comes like a muscle grows. By use. We can’t (usually) go from not believing for $1 to believing for $1,000,000 in one step. Muscles just don’t grow that strong that fast. We can’t (usually) believe for healing of cancer or AIDS if we can’t believe for healing of a cold. Faith and Miracles are different. I’ll cover that another time.
There are always exceptions, times when a full-on miracle occurs. These are few and there tends to be little if any form of logic to the miracle. It just seems to happen.
In general we need to be patient. If you’re broke now and have been for some time it could be cataclysmic if God were to suddenly drop millions into your hands. First He needs you to let Him change your mindset. Once you’ve done that you can step out of the boat.
Peter saw Jesus on the water. A fisherman by trade, he realised if he stayed in the boat he was a dead man. So he trusted. They had seen Jesus save the sick and demon possessed. They had seen Him feed 5000 men plus women and children with a packed lunch. He took the chance that he would see Jesus save him from death by doing something “logic” said was insane.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” [Proverbs 14:12]
It looked like staying in the boat was the right thing to do. It seemed right. But stay in the boat and you drown. Peter saw that.
In the situations we face every day we have the same dilemma. Do what everyone else does in this circumstance or try something that looks crazy. Like taking a heart from a dead man and putting it into the chest of another. But today a heart transplant is almost a routine operation. Investing in a time of recession seems crazy by the World’s logic, but there were more millionaires at the end of the Great Depression than there were at the beginning of it because they had the recognition that it couldn’t be a permanent slump. Their investments looked crazy.
These are Worldly examples of course. But Peter grabbed the hands of a cripple and pulled him to his feet in Acts. To a man without Faith, an insane act. To an imitator of Christ, a simple command.
We lose sight of the fact that we have been given Christ’s authority over earthly matters. Health, finances, family. We need to get back to basics.
We’ve spent our lives on the fence, watching others who have walked on the water and marvelling at the “special anointing” they have. But that’s what Christianity – imitating Jesus – should look like. We need to take the chance He gives us.
We need to get out of the boat.