“As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.
Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. ‘A ghost!’ they said, crying out in terror.
But Jesus was quick to comfort them. ‘Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.’
Peter, suddenly bold, said, ‘Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.’
He said, ‘Come ahead.’
Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, ‘Master, save me!’
Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, ‘Faint-heart, what got into you?’
The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, ‘This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!'” (Matthew 14:22-33, The Message).
I’ve been thinking about Peter, the disciple with the chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease. He got into trouble by saying things and acting out without really thinking it through. Not that any of us can relate, right?
He often gets a bad rap for the whole sinking bit. After Jesus calls him to walk on water, he gets so far out and sees the waves and panics and . . . . down he goes. Only a fast-acting Jesus keeps Peter from sleeping with the fishes. Literally.
But for a moment or two, Peter walked on water. Other than Jesus Himself, Peter is the only other in history who can make that claim.
While it’s easy to chide Peter for taking his eyes off Jesus, you have to give him kudos for getting out of the boat in the first place. After all, there were eleven other disciples who stayed put.
Peter left everything he knew, everything that was comfortable, and everything that made sense in that moment to come to where Jesus was. To me, failure would have been Peter staying in the boat and saying, “No thanks, Jesus. I’m fine. Really.”
I can relate to the other disciples. It’s easy to stay in the boat and criticize the ones who try to get out and do something. It’s easy to sit where you have something tangible to hold onto in the middle of raging waves.
But that kind of faith never gets you anywhere. It’s the faith that takes risks, that takes that step of faith out into the scary unknown, that leads us to where Jesus is. That’s the faith that takes us to places where we see the impossible becoming reality.
Lord, I want that kind of faith that Peter had in that moment. I want to step out of the boat, get my feet wet, and make fool of myself if it will help get me a little closer to You.