The elements assaulted his senses as he stood on the deck. The wind and rain whipped around him flinging water into his face as the boat rose and fell with the swells. It was a wild storm, almost supernatural. His hands gripped the rough edges of the railing as he squinted into the darkness trying to make sense of what he saw.
Someone behind him yelled, “It’s a ghost!” Fear started to wrap icy fingers around his chest and squeeze the air from his lungs.
Just then he heard the voice. “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
He didn’t realize he’d forgotten to breathe until a sharp intake of breath filled his lungs with a blast of cold, salty air. Then Peter spoke with characteristic rashness: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” (vs. 28)
Seriously … who else would have been walking on the water in the middle of the night? But the circumstances were a far cry from the hot, brilliantly bright day when Jesus first called Peter to come to Him.
As he did the first time, when Jesus said “Come,” Peter followed. He kept his eyes glued on his Lord as he swung a leg over the side then hoisted himself out of the boat. The dark water made a cold path for his feet as he took one cautious step, then another. All of a sudden, the reality of where he was and what he was doing hit him with the force of one of the waves.
“For the love of Galilee, what was I thinking?!” he must have thought in the split second when fear reached first for his heart then, grabbing his ankles, began pulling him under. At least his instincts were right for once. He quickly screamed, “Lord, save me!” And immediately, Jesus was beside him, lifting him up and quizzically asking, “Why did you doubt?”
He handed Peter over to the stunned disciples soaking in the scene from the supposed safety of the boat before he joined them on the deck. “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped Him saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God’.” (vs.32-33)
When I first wrote this in 2009, Jesus had just called me to leave the security of “the boat” I was in and step out into the storm to walk with Him in ways that were new, scary, and untraditional. At times I felt the wind whipping around me and the salt water under my feet and thought, “Oh Jesus, what are You thinking?!” I was tempted to look at my “reality:” waves labeled “mortgage payment,” “grocery bills,” and “questions from people who care but have no comprehension of why anyone in their right mind would trade a supposed security for the impossibly illogical idea of walking on water.”
Since then, there have been other calls to “get out of the boat”:
Working for a business startup.
Developing educational curricula for an international education company.
Marrying my best friend!
Starting a business with essential oils.
Working as Registrar for Redeemer Seminary.
Speaking out about spiritual confusion and abuse.
God seldom leaves us in our comfort zone for long, does He?! But, I’m walking with Jesus. He said, “Come,” and I’ve followed and He’s holding my hand.
I’ve certainly had sinking spells where my eyes drifted and I started going under. But, “He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters … He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me… (He) gave me a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.” (Psalm 18:16, 19, 36)
What a thrill to walk on water, to believe the supernatural, to trust His strength to perfect my weakness and cause me to rise above the circumstances to revel in the miraculous! What did the disciples in the boat think they gained by clinging to what made sense? They were already soaked, scared, and wondering if they’d survive the storm. What did they have to lose by getting out of the boat, especially when the Commander of the Wind and Waves was the One offering them a “walk on the wild side”?
The point is not to throw caution to the wind and look for opportunities to defy death. But when we respond to His voice and follow His lead, especially in unusual circumstances, it catapults us into a unique position to witness the miraculous. He gets the glory. We gain the experience of a lifetime. And those watching worship.