This past month I started a journey through the New Testament alongside hundreds of others from Lifepointe. Part of this years vision as a church is to read God’s word daily and personally dive deeper into it’s life giving truth. With our awesome new Journey Guides we can journal something each day that challenged or encouraged us. As I’ve been reading through the book of Matthew I have been rocked with the radical call to follow Jesus and what that looks like. Here is my journaling from Matthew 14 using the “S.O.A.P” method.
Scripture: 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said,“why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.” (Matthew 14:25-32)
Observation: This may be a story you’ve heard before, after all it’s the only record of a human actually walking on water. That’s pretty amazing! So many people focus on Peter’s lack of faith in this passage and sigh with disappointment that he didn’t go the distance. I want to focus on a different angle. At first glance it appears that Jesus is only addressing the lack of Peter’s faith. But what about all the other disciples still in the boat? They didn’t step out. They didn’t ask Jesus to call them out on the water. They didn’t experience rescue from the hand of Jesus. Imagine with me that after Jesus pulled Peter up from beneath the water to stand beside Him he looked over his shoulder at the disciples still in the boat and said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Peter is one of my favorite characters in all of history. His brash enthusiasm and leap first personality got him in trouble a few times but ultimately lead him to experience more faith than the rest of the disciples. Did you notice in that passage that while all the other disciples are freaked out about a ghost on the water Peter calls out, “Jesus! If it’s really you call me out there with you.” The wind and waves are still thrashing about but Peters vision is fixed on his Lord. David Jeremiah says it this way, “The difference between fear and faith is focus.” What are you afraid of? Where is your focus in life right now? You may be asking God to move in your life and do big things but your focus is on the storm instead of the Savior.
Application: Let’s be honest, you and I are still in the boat, aren’t we? We’d love to embrace the role of Peter and step out on the waters with Jesus but the storm is all we can think about. Sickness. Addiction. Depression. Shame. Guilt. Fear. Past wounds. Bitterness. It’s easy to get so caught up in the storms and want to give up or man up.
But what if Jesus is not in a hurry to get rid of your storm?
Whether you made your own storm or it just came upon you there’s something far greater at stake. Maybe you are afraid that if you step out of the boat Jesus will look at your mess and let you sink. Or maybe you are sadly content with your boat life. You know it’s out of control but familiarity sounds easier than faith. Your faith is based more on what you think you can control than on the sovereignty of your Savior. When Peter stepped out of the boat he wasn’t trying to escape the storm he was just trying to be with Jesus. He wasn’t ignoring his past mess – but he was dissatisfied with boat life. In Peters childlike wonder and passionate obedience his gaze was fixed on the one who was in front of him and not on what was behind.
Do you want to experience more of Jesus? Do you want to be set free from your mess? Do you want to be with Jesus or do you just want the storm to stop? I believe that Jesus isn’t in a hurry to stop the storm, the wind and waves still know His name, and He could stop it at any time but He’d rather call you out on the waters of faith than leave you in the boat of familiarity and fear.
Faith doesn’t always ask us to take huge leaps, but it does beckon us out of the boat.
I want to be more like Peter. So Peter sank for a minute, small defeat compared to the greatness of what he gained with Jesus that night. Faith isn’t a self-fix, it’s fixing your gaze on Christ. When Jesus gets your full attention, adoration, and obedience imagine what can happen outside the boat. Your feet might fail you, you might sink a little, but there you’ll find grace in new ways you’ve never imagined. So, how much longer you want to stay in that boat?
Prayer: Call me out on the water LORD! Call me out! My gaze is fixed on you and you alone. Captivate my heart with your love and faithfulness. May I trust you beyond reason and seek you above safety. I don’t want to fear or fix the storms. I don’t even need them to stop. I just need you. I want to experience your presence in the midst of the storms and know that you are enough. You will never let me sink, for your hand of rescue is always ready. You love me too much.
“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior” – Oceans, by Hillsong United