Matthew 14:22-33 NIV
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. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn 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.”
I have mixed feelings about this story.
If I had designed these events as a reflection of my own heart, things would have gone a little differently…
The beautiful and captivating story of Peter walking on water, the redemptive story of my own life, the exquisite story of all of creation… If these were written as a reflection of my own anxious heart, they would be written through the lens of pain avoidance rather than redemption, self-sufficiency rather than dependence, comfort and ease rather than faith, perfection rather than sanctification, quick answers rather than perseverance that builds character and character that builds hope.
The Jesus made in my own image would have calmed the storm before he invited Peter to Come. He wouldn’t have let it hurt. He would have kept it neat and tidy. Jesus would have made His command to “Take courage” nice and easy, because He would have silenced the waves and thunder, preemptively.
But God, in His great mercy, made me in His image instead – not the other way around. God in His infinite wisdom, orchestrated the events of this passage of scripture, in this particular way. And you and I both know that a story in which the miracle happens while the wind is still blowing and the waves are still crashing, is a whole lot more relevant to our real lives.
I want to walk on water to Jesus, don’t you? I want to be brave. I long to have adventures with the Lord, to co-labor with Him, and be called into supernatural places. But before I step out of the boat, I’d prefer sunny skies and calm waters and life vests, and a well-established Plan B.
It’s easy to be courageous in calm waters. It’s easy to trust Jesus when things are easy and predictable. But we learn what our faith is made of when the skies grow dark and the waters get a little rocky. We learn to trust Jesus when we answer His invitation to lock eyes and Come, right in the middle of the storm.
I’m beginning to see that we can’t wait until life pauses to figure out how to walk with the Lord. Marriage and motherhood have made life more raw, more vulnerable, and the pauses more rare. Nothing feels easy and predictable when these precious pieces of my heart are running around this scary world of ours.
This parenting journey has stripped off all of the nice churchy things I used to wear, and held a mirror to my heart. It has revealed the places of my heart that have been fortified in truth, and the places where my heart is still a little squishy and lukewarm. Motherhood has revealed the ways I’m walking in the truth of my new, empowered, victorious identity in Christ and the ways I’m still walking with a limp. (2 Corinthians 5: 17)
The things that spill out of me when I’m sleep deprived or disrespected are the very places in my heart where I need a holy healing touch from our Living God. I’m beginning to see that we cannot build a life of faith when we only walk with Jesus in calm waters. If we are going to walk in God’s promises, we need more than Sunday mornings and quiet times. We need a real God with reckless love who speaks into the middle of our messy lives, in real time. And that is the God we have. Hallelujah!
When my home feels loud and busy and chaotic, I can’t always get away to be alone with the Lord.
You too, mama?
I’m beginning to look for the eyes of Jesus right in the middle of the noise, and ask Him if I can Come. He steadies me and lets me walk right on top of the raging waves.
Hear me…I believe in drawing away to be alone with the Lord, and I seek to do it every. single. day. But I am learning to lock eyes with Jesus and walk to Him, on the days when I didn’t get to have an idyllic quiet time with morning dew and chirping birds. God meant for his promises to stand when we were still waiting for a chance to go to the mountaintop.
I’m learning to lock eyes with Jesus and walk to Him, while five little people need five different things… when I don’t know if it’s going to be ok… when I’m confused and uncertain… and when this mama actually has no earthly idea what is best. I am learning to lock eyes with Jesus and walk to him on the days when I did everything wrong. I am learning to cry out to him to save me, right after my faith has been weak.
Maybe you have made the same observation about parenting that I have. It never stops. It just keeps coming, and each new day has new challenges, new uncertainties, new things you’ve never done before, conversations you’ve never had before. If we wait until it all calms down to learn to walk with Jesus, we might miss our opportunity to rest in him when we really need him. And we might miss our chance to raise children who walk on water.
Needing Jesus this way…this is holy ground, sweet friends.
Jesus did not say “Take courage. There is no storm.”
He did not say “Take courage. It will be over soon.”
He said “Take courage. It is I.”
The reason for our courage cannot be the absence of difficulty, but the presence of Christ.
Like Peter, when we look at the wind and the waves, we become afraid. If I look upon one of my children and imagine all of the ways things could go wrong, I start to sink beneath the water, right then and there. My fear writes the story, and I can’t think of anything to say in their broken moment except the things my sweet ones are doing wrong. But when I look at the eyes of Jesus, I can see with new eyes. The waves are in my peripheral vision – their power insignificant in light of the power of Christ.
When I lock eyes with Jesus, I see my loved ones through God’s eyes. I see with hope for breakthrough and healing and miracles. I see with endless possibility. Shortcomings fall into the shadow of the glorious love of God through the blood of Christ.
When the things we see with our eyes make us feel like treading water is the very best we could hope for, with an ominous sense that we will only last a few moments more, we can lock eyes with Jesus. He invites us to walk right on top of the disappointments, the fears, the unfulfilled dreams, the uncertain futures. He invites us to dance in worship to the drumming beat of thunder, with the sway of the mighty wind, and the beat of the pounding waves of the most chaotic and difficult days.
We lock eyes with the God of the Most High and we become like David, who looks on his companions, trembling in fear of the giant before them and says “…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)
When we know who is for us, we fear not that which is against us.
Sister, whatever waves you are facing today in your home, lift your eyes from the challenges, the inadequacies, the uncertainties, to meet the tender-loving eyes of Christ. Hold within your gaze the truth of God’s power and might, the truth of His fatherly love and his endless mercy, the truth of His sovereignty and everlasting kindness.
Although the frothy ripples of your unique sea of circumstances may still clap against your feet, you will be empowered by the presence of Christ to walk above the fray.