Our lesson in Bible class the other day was on how God’s children can trust Him. The story was from Matthew 14:22-33. I challenge you to read it to refresh your memory, or to read it for the first time. It truly is an amazing story! I’ll give a little synopses to set the scene. This is the story of the disciples being out on the stormy sea. In the middle of the storm they see a white figure coming toward them. Upon learning that it is Jesus walking toward them in the middle of the sea, Peter (who always seems to open his mouth without thinking – or, as I’ve started to see it has the trusting faith of a child) calls out to Jesus and says, “Jesus, if that’s really you, call me to come and walk out there with you.” Possibly to Peter’s surprise, Jesus says, “Come!” Peter, fully trusting Jesus, steps out of the boat and walks on the water. That is, until he is distracted by the storming sea all around him and begins to sink. Jesus then takes Peter by the hand, lifts him out of the water and they return to the boat.
There are SO many amazing lessons to gather from this incredible story. A couple years ago, I heard it in a way that left me challenged in this way. Sometimes we see God moving and working in incredible ways (Jesus walking on the water) and we so desperately want to join Him (Peter asking to walk on the water with Jesus). God’s answer to us is “Absolutely! Come join me! All it takes is a willing and trusting heart.” We are then left with a choice – Am I going to step out of the boat and join Jesus on the water as Peter did, or am I going to stay in the boat with everyone else (the remaining disciples) and just stand by watching? I want to step out of the boat and join in the incredible work God is doing!
That’s not the end of the story though. Yes, Peter stepped out and joined Jesus on the water, but then he was distracted. Faith is not always easy. When we are joining in God’s plan and purpose, challenges WILL come. We will be distracted by so many things – loss, hurt, heartache, even the craziness of life, or the mundane tasks of each day. Our eyes and heart will be diverted from Christ and His purpose, to the storms that rage around us. We may feel ourselves sinking into discouragement and despair just as Peter sank into the sea.
There is HOPE! Matthew 14:31 says, “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him…” We are not left alone to figure it out ourselves! Peter was not left to sink because he failed in his faith. Peter was human, Jesus was not. I am human, I will make mistakes, I will fail. BUT, when I do, Jesus is there to catch me. He doesn’t leave me to sink!
Verse 31 continues with Jesus’ comment to Peter, “…Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” I used to be stumped by this question, but now know that Jesus was not condemning Peter’s lapse of faith. Rather, I see it now as something a parent might say to a child that didn’t follow their direction for safety. As a mother, I first run to my child and help them up, assure them of my love, and then correct them lovingly so they learn from the experience. Jesus came immediately to Peter’s aid and only after he was in His protective arms did Jesus correct Peter, to show him that he still had need of Jesus. Jesus’ statement is filled with encouragement for Peter to trust Him no matter what is going on around him.
The phrase that hit home to me today is found in verse 32. It says, “And when they got into the boat….” There is no indication that they swam back to the boat and were pulled in by the remaining disciples. I believe that when Jesus pulled Peter up out of the water, they WALKED back to the boat together. You see, Jesus didn’t call Peter out of the boat to walk alone. He called him out of the boat to walk beside Him. Even after Peter’s fail, Jesus didn’t leave him out there to sink. He pulled him out of the water and they walked together, side by side. Wow! When God calls us out of the boat (our comfort zone) to walk on water (be part of His bigger plan – no matter how impossible it may seem), He doesn’t make us do it alone and then condemn us when we fail. Instead, He walks beside us every step of the way, picks us up when we do fail (because we will), and teaches us to trust Him more. He is there to walk beside us, and never leaves us to sink.
I am so thankful that I’m not alone on this journey. I’m amazed that despite my shortcomings and failures, God calls me to take part in His amazing plan, and is there to pull me up and walk with me the entire way.
Friend, He is there to do the same for you. He loves us (all of us, even you) with an amazing and everlasting love. We only need to trust Him!