“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 strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.” (Matthew 14: 28-30 NLT)
Some years ago, okay A LOT of years ago, I was with my family as a little boy hanging out at one of the large reservoirs in the area, swimming and having a good time. I don’t really remember what happened, but somehow I fell over and ended up on my back in the water. My dad rushed over to pull me out of the water, and I’m sure it didn’t take long, but to me, well it seemed like an eternity as I laid there, seemingly helpless. I remember my dad’s face appearing above me through the water and his hands plunging deep to grasp me, and I knew everything was going to be alright.
To this day I carry a dread of water. I mean, it makes me physically anxious. When I was married and living in Florida, my wife tried to teach me how to swim in her parent’s small backyard pool. I couldn’t even float. The minute the water got up over my ears I would panic, much to Mariel’s annoyance.
I still remember what she said to me: “Trust me, I won’t let you sink.”
These past experiences came flooding into my mind today as I contemplated the passage above from Matthew.
You see, I’m a Peter kind of guy. We’ve been studying the life of Paul in Sunday School, but I’ve always identified more with Peter: emotional, reactionary, vulnerable. I’ve trodden a path similar to the great fisherman. I once felt Christ say “Come, follow me.” However, when things got tough and the time came for me to put my money where my mouth was, I, like Peter, denied. It was only last summer, 2014, that I finally heard the rooster crow in my life and realized what I had done, what I had rejected.
But Christ has been patient with me, just as he was with Peter, and those experiences living in the dark have only served to strengthen my faith in the Light, a Light that I now realize never really went out.
If God can use Peter, as far from perfect as he was, He can certainly use me.
But back to the verses above, back to the boat. It’s early in the morning, and Peter and the disciples are possibly just getting around. They gaze out over the waters and see a figure striding toward them ON TOP OF the water.
The disciples had already seen some pretty hefty miracles, but come on now. Nobody just walks on water! Superstitious bunch that they probably were, they think it’s a ghost and freak out accordingly.
Jesus, seeing all this, calls out and says, “Don’t worry guys, it’s just me!”
But Peter, the reactionary, isn’t quite sure and says “Lord, if it is you, call me out to you!” You see, in his head, in his mind, Peter has no doubt initially that Jesus can bring him out across the water. Armed with that faith, Peter steps out upon the crests of the waves and begins to walk toward Jesus.
Imagine that feeling, imagine the RUSH of standing ON WATER, gazing at Jesus, and WALKING toward him when he says “Come!”
But then the doubts creep in.
You start to look to the side, you see the waves crashing around you, you feel the wind picking up.
Your thoughts catch up to you, and you feel that same old fear creep in.
And you start to sink.
Just before the water covers your head, you cry, “LORD, SAVE ME!”
And a gentle hand reaches down and pulls you up.
“Why did you doubt”?
The question echoes in my head……”Why did you doubt?”
Fear? Yes. Anger? Yes. Lack of confidence in myself and my God-given abilities? Yes.
These and more. These are the big waves and the strong winds that distract me from Christ, even today sometimes. Heck there are days when I’m not even brave enough to get out of the boat. I look at the storms, winds, and waves swirling around me and think…”No way, Lord. I can’t. I’m afraid I’ll fall and fall in deep.”
“Why do you doubt? Trust me, I won’t let you sink. I’m not promising that you won’t fall, that you won’t get wet, but I WON’T LET YOU SINK.”
I gingerly crawl over the side and touch my toe to the water……..