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?” Matthew 14:28-31
The Sea of Galilee is actually a lake, between 7 and 8 miles across. Because of its location, about 650 feet below sea level and surrounded by high mountains, the body of water is prone to fierce winds which can whip up at a moments notice. This was the water onto which the disciples sailed that night.
There were many disciples in the boat. Even though they were lifelong fishermen – this was, after all, their job – they were afraid. This was a mighty storm, causing fear in even these seasoned sailors. They felt alone, bruised and battered and in danger. But I love the text in the bible which says that “they were in the middle of the lake, and Jesus watched them from the shore.” Jesus, as a natural man, was likely over 3 miles away, but He was “watching”. They couldn’t see Him, but He had His eye on them, watching the situation. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be a remarkably comforting thought. Because when things looked most bleak, Jesus walked through the tempest, straight at the boat. Jesus knew when the men would break, and when He should step in. As He walked across the water, Peter said “Lord, if it is You, tell me to come to You”
Peter, always the impulsive one, is my hero. I identify with him in so many ways. His loud mouth, which often had his foot squarely placed in it. His extreme behavior, his desire to protect those he loved which sometime seriously backfired. But Peter, for all his human weakness, did something not one other disciple dared to do.
He stepped out of the boat.
We all experience trouble. We all experience storms. We are look around fearfully and wonder when the storm will quiet. But not many of us ever actually step out of the boat towards God. Not many people will leave the safety of what they know – their finances, their relationships, their “control” – to take a step into the unknown to walk towards the Lord. Even the rest of the men in the boat – all followers of Christ – didn’t attempt to step OUT of their only place of safety. Only one man did.
But its only when you step out of your boat that you walk into the realm of God’s miracles. Peter walked across the water, eyes on God, not on the storm. As those of us who are familiar with the story know, it is only when Peter took his eyes off Jesus, and once again looked around at the wind and the waves, that he began to sink into his trouble.
The Lord has been calling me out of the boat for a while now. And I grew to a point when, eyes on Him, I stepped out of the boat. I saw His miracles. I walked towards God oblivious to the storms around me – and they are many. But this is where I get vulnerable…because I took my eyes off Jesus, and looked at the wind. I looked at the waves. I began to let fear overwhelm me. And I sank.
Those closest to me saw me sink over the last week. They knew something was different. Disappearing under violent waves of despair is an ugly and scary thing to have happen, and it shows. For a few days, I thought I was drowning. I was sure of it.
And then – “Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him”
The very hand of Jesus reached under the waves, and He lifted me out of the water. All at once I was reminded and assured of the very real presence of God in my life and that He will NOT let me go under, even when I myself was the one to fail and take my eyes off of Him. And when Jesus lifted me up this morning, He did so with love and understanding. His love is something I wish all of you would choose to experience. It washed over me with more power and intensity than those waves of fear, and He redeemed me, yet again. And He lovingly placed me back in my boat, my place of safety. As I sat there, I heard His words, and saw Him once again on the storm, beckoning to me.
“Come, Regina”. Out of the boat again.
And I will follow Him. Back out of the boat. Back into the place of miracles. I hope I will keep my eyes on Him and not see the troubles of my life, but even if I fall, I know that His hand will once again lift me up. This is my relationship with the Lord. I walk out of my comfort zone. If I look to Him, I am safe. If I look to the world, I get scared and fall. But He will rescue me as many times as He has to, as long as I am willing to step out of the boat to Him, until He brings me safely home.