What we can learn from Peter in Matthew 14:22-24
A guest post from Kimberlie Kessler
As with the weather, I’m certain most of us would prefer to be in control of our “life” seasons; feeling less like we are drowning and more that we are precisely in the place we have calculated ourselves to be in any given moment of time. Financially, physically, professionally.
To our dismay, but ultimate best, that’s not quite the way things work.
In a passage of scripture in Matthew, the disciples are in their boat. It’s nighttime. They were surely exhausted, having just served fish and bread to a multitude of women, men, and children. They were ready for a well-deserved rest while Jesus went alone to the mountain for His own rest with the Father. They have no reason to believe anything will occur beyond what they have planned; which is to sail, sleep and wake up to fish without incident and with great success.
In the midst of their attempted rest, they woke and found themselves in a raging storm, their boat being thrown around in the waves. As they look out onto the stormy sea they see a “being” and they begin to panic, thinking it’s a ghost.
*Let’s pause for a moment. This is where I want to say, “Ok, boys. You just witnessed yet another miracle, Jesus feeding thousands from a mere five loves of bread and two fish. What in the WORLD has come over you, that now you’re ‘seeing’ ghosts?!” How quickly, in the midst of their storm, did they forget WHO was with them, caring and providing for them. *
Jesus then says to them, “It’s me, don’t be afraid.” To which Peter responds “If it’s You, tell me to walk out to You.” Jesus responded, rather than being exasperated, with a word. “Come.” Peter exited the boat and began to walk to Jesus. That is, until he began to think about the storm around him, the waves that I can only imagine were tremendous, began to panic and took his eyes off of Jesus. The very second he allowed his focus to go from Jesus (faith) to his circumstances (fear), he began to sink. In that moment, he cried out “Lord, save me!” and…in His loving way, Jesus did. He then questioned Peter, asking “Why did you doubt me?”
Indeed. WHY do we doubt Him?
It’s our human, innate response to doubt. Totally transparency: I’m one of the disciples in the boat. "Yes Lord, you just provided for my seemingly impossible situation today, yet tonight I’m questioning how I’m going to face tomorrow." (insert face-palm)
I’m no better than Peter.
God calls us to Him, promises to not only give us everything we need, but to never leave us alone in any circumstance, yet we just can't stop ourselves from trying to “help” God. After all, He’s busy, so to be sure things are done in our timeframe with the outcome we desire, we step in to "help".
As soon as I take my eyes off of Jesus, I’m given to panic. Fear. The pit in my stomach becomes the dark hole that consumes me and my thoughts.
Think about it: our focus and attention-or lack thereof- is often a matter of life and death. We have to keep our eyes on the road when we are driving. Keep vigilant with young children for their safety. How many times after an accident have we heard “I only turned my head for one second….”. We get distracted, and something unpleasant happens.
The same is true in our walk with Jesus. When we take our eyes off of Him we end up like Peter, sinking. Perhaps not in water, but in whatever our circumstantial "sea" may be. The good news is that Jesus knows our weaknesses, loves and forgive us. When we cry out to Him as Peter did, He lovingly stretches out His hand and saves us to put us back on the water, not in it.
Be encouraged in whatever you’re facing: mom, wife, sister, cancer survivor, warrior, employee, friend, group leader, household manager, widow. When you feel your eyes drifting and your circumstances overwhelming, realize your distraction and ask God to help you stay more focused on Him, He will do just that, and so much more.
I leave you today with this passage from Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Remember Who God is and keep your eyes on Him. Our Savior will never leave you to face your "storms" alone. Dance in faith, don’t drown in fear. He’s got you. He’s calling you to “come.”