Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morningJesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strongwind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
Matthew 14:22-32, NLT
They were not sinking. Many of them were skilled, life-long fishermen. They were “fighting the waves;” they were dealing with the storm. They could have struggled through, sailed on, and met Jesus on the other side. And that was what Jesus had told them to do; that was the expectation to which almost all of the disciples were clinging. Except for Peter. He let go of his expectation just long enough to catch a glimpse of God on the move.
In that moment, Peter had a decision to make. Did he just want to get from point A to point B and hook up with Jesus on the other side, or was he ready to encounter Jesus in a new, unscripted way? His heart didn’t hesitate. He wanted to be with Jesus, wherever He was, even if it seemed impossible, even if it didn’t make sense. He wasn’t satisfied to be with Jesus eventually; Peter wanted to be with Jesus now.
His inspired excitement wasn’t quite enough to get him there, however. Peter sank up to his neck in forgetfulness, momentarily losing sight of Who it was he was walking toward. But Jesus’ presence was real – not just a ghost as the disciples had feared – and He intervened. Jesus called Peter back to the awareness that although in a strange place, he was walking with God. That’s the reality that was keeping his head above water.
Maybe following Jesus is not about mustering up enough faith to be able to follow God with perfection. If we wait until we get our belief together, we may miss the encounter. Perhaps following Jesus begins with stepping out to inhabit God’s faith in us, so that we can grow with God, not just toward Him.
The Real Question: Where have I been trying to get it together before I trust God? Am I ready to step out to meet God where He’s waiting for me?
Family Talk: Share with your kids what is was like watching them take their first steps. If you don’t remember, share with them from another experience you observed them growing up (losing a tooth, learning to talk, going to school, etc.) Share with them how you believed in them, even when they doubted themselves.
ONE in Prayer: God, help me not to be satisfied with going through the motions. Help me to catch a vision for where You are moving and working in the world. I want to walk with You as I grow and serve in Your name. Amen
My wife and I no longer felt good about parenting our children from a legalistic paradigm. We felt instead we were to spend more time with our children, loving them, talking with them about matter of the heart and praying God would capture their hearts. Moving away from a rule based approach was scary and hard at first, but God has been faithful. Our children appear to be growing in their love for God and other people. And they are not operating under a dualistic paradigm which legalism tends to walk hand in hand with.