Doing Life Together

rough-sea-2624054_1280Do you ever feel like you’ve hit a wall?’ It’s like a storm is raging all around you. You receive a bad health diagnosis, a relationship breaks up, your boss is impossible, the kids are acting out, your finances bring stress….When these times hit, it is easy to give in to discouragement and feel like you just want to give up. Maybe you medicate yourself with some distraction or altering substance. But none of that works to address the issue. You need calm in the middle of the storm. And you need to know how to rise up when you are drowning.

Matthew 14:25 is an extraordinary story-one that offers a way to address the uncontrollable storms in our life. Jesus’ disciples were in a boat during a raging and dangerous gale.  Meanwhile,  Jesus was on land recharging after the physical and spiritual exertion that was the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

The passage reads, “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” It is scary in the boat and scarier to see this figure who looks like Jesus walking on water. What does Jesus do immediately? Tells them not to be afraid. His presence should be calming.

Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter asked God to do something in him to prove he was Jesus. He wanted to join Jesus where he was. This would require a miracle. But Peter had faith to go to the Lord. Do we do the same? During the storm, do we call on God?  Do we ask God to do something within us that only he can do?  In others words, do we change our focus to what God can do in us to bring Him glory?

Jesus replies,  “Come.”  That’s it. We ask God if we can come to him and he says Yes, come. We don’t have to be cajoled or drafted. We ask and he says come during the storm. Jesus didn’t draft anyone else in the boat to come out and meet him. Peter volunteered to come to him. 

“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” Peter didn’t wait for an invitation. He goes to the Lord and Jesus welcomes him. Peter was the only one who stepped out of his reality and into the impossible.  The storm is still raging, but Peter moved forward on the water. He is a walking miracle. Literally.

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”  Peter just walked on the water, but forgot how far he had come when he saw the wind. He is having a miraculous experience with Jesus, yet fear grips him and suddenly he is drowning. His eyes were off the Lord and on to his circumstances. Does that sound like you and me? It just takes one scary thing (we see the wind) and our eyes go off Jesus and we begin to sink. Peter was walking on water in faith but allowed fear to remind him of the storm still raging. For a moment, Peter lost his focus and faith and needed to be saved. He didn’t try to swim on his own. Rather, he asked Jesus for help.  

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” He was drowning and Jesus didn’t hesitate to save him. Then, as they are walking back to the boat on the water and safe, Jesus does some teaching. 

“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?  And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”  Notice that it wasn’t until they got in the boat that the wind died down. Peter had to walk back to the boat with Jesus, trusting him. The storm was still swirling around them. And when he got back to the boat, no attention was drawn to Peter. It was all about what Jesus did. The power of God was displayed and they all worshipped the Lord. 

This is a powerful story of how we prevent drowning in the middle of a storm. We are not to be afraid. Instead, call out to the Lord to do a work in us, keep our eyes fixed on him and walk back confidently and full of faith, acknowledging what God can and will do.

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