While preparing for a talk I'm giving on Thursday morning, I went through an old journal entry I wrote a little over 3 years ago. It's exactly what I needed to read tonight. I hope it hits home for you, too.
I went to Matthew 14:22-33 because I wanted to read about Jesus walking on the water but also when Peter walked out to Jesus on the water. This scripture struck me a few months ago, too. When I was dwelling on it then what really stood out to me was Peter’s walk out to Jesus. Peter, full of faith, climbs right out of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus. But midway there, Peter gets distracted by the strong winds and fear gets the best of him. He begins to sink. He cries out for Jesus to save him, and Jesus reaches out His hand catching Peter and says, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
If you think about it, it took an incredible amount of faith for Peter to walk out to Jesus in the first place. It’s somewhere between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., pitch black, the wind is raging and everyone on the boat thinks they see a ghost before Jesus tells them that it’s Him. But Peter in his beautiful child-like faith wants to just jump right out of the boat and go meet Jesus on the water. And he begins to! But at some point he takes his eyes off Jesus because he’s distracted. The moment his focus shifts off Jesus, Peter begins to sink. Wow, I bet we’ve all been there. Can you think of a time in your life when you felt like everything was lining up perfectly because you were running after Jesus, eyes firmly planted on Him, then in a moment everything changed? How is it we get so easily distracted? The great news is though, that Jesus is still there, ready to reach out and save us when we begin to sink. I know I have the crying-out-to-Jesus-to-be-saved part down, but it’s the not sinking/get distracted part I need to work on.
When I read this passage again tonight though, another part of the story really stirred my mind. The disciples think they see a ghost and they cry out; then Jesus calmed them down letting them know it was Him. What happens next I can’t get over. In verse 28, Peter says this to Jesus, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Peter is always so zealous, so trusting and loving like a child. It struck me as a little odd that Peter didn’t just ask permission, but he asked Jesus to command him. And with the fear they used to have of the sea back then, especially in the middle of the night, why in the world did Peter want to go out to Jesus on the water?! I’m surprised he wasn’t like, “Oh good, it’s You Jesus, now come in the boat and hang out with us.” Peter didn’t just want to go out on the water with Jesus; he wanted Jesus to command him to do it. I really find this fascinating.
Sometimes I think I’m similar to Peter and his attitude. My excited reaction might also have been to want to go meet Jesus on the water, but I probably would have just run right out there without asking. Why did Peter ask? Maybe because he knew that no matter how much mustard seed faith Peter had, if Jesus didn’t want him out there, he would never have made it. This hits me to the core. I’m a very goal oriented person and when I know my objective, I just set out to make it happen. Every once in a while I stop to ask if God wants to join me, but I forget that I’m not in the driver’s seat. He is. I can know exactly where to go and how to get there, but there’s no gas pedal or brake on the passenger side. I can have all the faith in the world that my plan will work and God will like it, but if God decides not to go that direction, we’re not going that direction.
I think I can learn a lot from Peter here. I want to be excited to meet Jesus wherever He is, even if it looks like a scary path, Jesus is there so I want to be there, too. I need to keep my eyes and heart focused on Jesus no matter how crazy and frightening the world around me may look and feel. And whatever bright ideas or goals I come up with, I need to first seek out what God wants me doing and where He’s driving me. Because on my own, I’m going nowhere fast.
Thank You for showing me why I begin to sink in life sometimes. Forgive me for taking my eyes off of You sometimes. Please help my focus be more constantly directed on You, Lord, and what You want me doing. I know sometimes I kick and scream in the passenger seat like a spoiled child. Help me to be more patient and to listen to You when You’re telling me where You want to take me. I’m ready for our road trip Lord!
In Jesus’ name, Amen.