"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night 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.' 'Lord, if it's you,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water.' 'Come,' he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!' Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. '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.'"
Matthew 14: 22-33
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is the time of year when we can run ourselves frazzled. The holidays seem to bring out the hustle and bustle in us. Meals must be planned. Gifts need to be purchased and wrapped. Kitchens everywhere begin to resemble bakeries. Our homes transform from the everyday ordinary to the seasonal extraordinary. No wonder we breathe a collective sigh of relief when the new year arrives.
God knows we can overdo it. He sees our priorities become muddled, then completely out of wack. He can see ahead to the fallout of running ourselves ragged. So why do we resist his nudgings to set aside time for rest...reflection...renewal? Because we are just too busy!
In this passage, Jesus makes his disciples pull away from the crowds and get into a boat. He knows that time spent out on the lake, surrounded by peace, solitude, and the gentle movement of the water will do them a world of good. He then answers his own higher call to go off and spend time alone with his Father. Surely he must be tired, too. But even exhaustion holds a back seat to his desire for one-on-one fellowship with his Father.
In the meantime, the winds pick up, guiding the disciples' boat out into the middle of the lake. It appears that the water's movement is powerful enough to arouse the men from their rest. Looking up, they see a figure like a ghost walking on the water toward them. They are overcome with fear. But to their surprise and amazement, the ghostly figure turns out to be Jesus. He is walking on the water's surface. How can this be?! His words, "Don't be afraid. It's me," do little to detract from the miracle they are witnessing. For Jesus is defying the law of physics. How can he possibly be walking on the water? Why isn't he sinking? Because the Creator of physics has complete authority over it, and nothing is too difficult for him.
Peter is so engaged in this miracle that he wants to be a part of it. "Tell me to come to you on the water," he says. Jesus replies simply, "Come." Peter climbs out of the boat and takes a tentative step toward Jesus. And we are given a beautiful picture of what can happen when our faith intersects with his power ~ ANYTHING is possible.
As he looks at the wind, Peter's fear dampens his faith, and he begins to descend below the water's surface. I have heard numerous messages about Peter's lack of faith at this point. But I have to ask, how many of us would get out of the boat in the first place and take that literal step of faith? Knowing my own fear of drowning, I can pretty confidently say it wouldn't be me. But I can't help but wonder ~ how many hopes...callings...and miracles do I drown out by my own fears and unwillingness to take a risk and step out? God only knows.
When they are all safely in the boat, the wind immediately dies down. In awe, they worship Jesus. Perhaps this is a reminder to me to invite him into the stormy, turbulent parts of my life. For when Jesus is present, those fierce winds of adversity aren't so frightening. And as I worship him (who can't when in his presence!) they seem to lose their destructive powers altogether.
I get it ~ hear his call today to rest; resist the urge to go-go-go. Take that step of faith. Put my fears to rest. Invite him into every nook and cranny of my life...and my daily round. Pause and worship him. This is how he wants me to live this day...and everyday. I can only imagine the miraculous moments that await me!
"Faith makes things possible, not easy."
"Faith can move mountains, but don't be surprised if God hands you a shovel."