Have you had experiences in your life that left your faith seemingly unbounded and limitless? I’ve attended a meeting or had my own unique experiences that left me feeling on fire, like there was no stopping me or my faith in God. I’ve felt how I assume Peter felt when he saw Jesus walking on the water and eagerly jumped from the safety of the boat into a stormy sea.
Just the prior day Peter had witnessed and participated in Jesus feeding the 5,000 with only a few loaves and fish. In Matthew 14, it says that Jesus then had to “constrain” those trusted disciples to get on the boat and leave Him. I’ve wondered why He had to constrain them. Was the sky already showing signs of the coming storm? Were they reluctant because of the miracle they witnessed and didn’t want to be apart from Jesus and miss another miracle?
Then after following Jesus’ directive to get in the boat and leave him, they spent what sounds like a wretched night to be in a boat. They’d already witnessed that He could calm a storm and had learned not to be afraid while He was with them. Did they fear more because He was NOT with them? Regardless, because they were obedient to go out in the boat, they witnessed more miracles.
I’ve realized that the miracles and most powerful experiences I’ve had have also begun with small acts of obedience and simply being where I should be or doing what I had committed to do.
Miracles have often come when I have felt scared, or uncertain, or that the direction I’ve followed didn’t seem to initially make sense or it led me into one of life’s storms.
I also love what we learn about Jesus in this account. When Peter called out to Jesus in the height and exuberance of his faith to also be invited to walk on the stormy sea, Jesus simply said, “Come.” We do not know how long or far, but he was emulating Jesus and walking on water. There was no handbook or further instruction, just one word, come, which was enough for Peter in that moment.
When Peter saw the wind, his fear outpaced his faith and he began to sink. Perhaps he started wondering how he was doing it when all his mortal senses and fallen mind couldn’t understand the logic-defying experience of walking on water. He called out to Jesus in fear, but still with faith saying, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately stretched forth His hand and pulled Peter to safety.
We know Peter could swim (see John 21:7), but Jesus still showed Peter mercy and help in the midst of his fear and doubt. In both appeals from Peter to Jesus, whether at the apex of faith or the dark descent of his fear, Jesus invited and Jesus saved.
Jesus empowered. Jesus taught. Jesus comforted. Jesus calmed. Jesus loved. That is the Jesus I’ve known!
I’ve found myself walking on water, doing, and experiencing more than seems logical, especially in the midst of life’s storms. My fears have also often outpaced my faith. One such instance was on my birthday in 2015. No one that I normally celebrate with was available or even in town. I was totally alone. I hate my birthday anyway, but that year I hated and dreaded the day more than ever. I felt the dark spiral of depression with its incessant self condemnations and recriminations enclosing around me.
I felt like Peter on the sea and began to sink from the weight of depression. I went to the temple with a single plea, “Lord, please give me something so I don’t have to feel this way on my birthday!” He immediately stretched forth His hand to touch my mind and heart. He opened my eyes to view myself and my propensity for depression in a new and merciful way. He kept me from completely sinking. What I learned that day will have to be shared another time.
I know like Peter, through my own experiences, that Jesus is there with the invitation to come unto Him when we are overflowing with faith and hope. Jesus is also there, and perhaps even closer than we know when we begin to sink from fear and doubt. Call to Him when you are safe. Call to Him when you are sinking. There are miracles to be experienced in safety or sinking when we are following and calling out to Jesus.
Trish Picture: Against the Wind, by Liz Lemon Swindle