Walk on What?

Mt.14: 22-36 tells the story of Jesus withdrawing from the crowds to be by himself.  Like us, Jesus needed to recharge, recalibrate and rest. Maybe during this time, he needed to have a time to grieve after hearing of the beheading of his cousin and dear friend, John the Baptist.
We don’t know what happened during that solitary time, but we do know that his virtue would be expended after teaching five thousand men, besides women, and performing miracles of healing. This supernatural love and compassion would pour out of him one more time.
Near the end of the day the disciples were sent by Jesus to row their boat to the other side of the lake. Jesus remained onshore to dismiss the crowd. Hours passed by and the disciples had rowed a good distance towards the other side of the lake. It was not an easy row. What they would have given for an outboard motor, with an electric start of course. 
The winds had gathered up and were buffeting their small wooden craft. Anyone who has been in a storm on open water understands how horrifying it can be. Remember, there were no survival suits or life jackets in those days. There was no VHS or radio gear. No GPS and no lit instrument panel to use for navigating in the dark. The clouds from the storm made charting your navigating lines impossible, and I can’t imagine any of the disciples ever having had swimming lessons when they were children either.
In the dark of the night, Jesus went to where the disciples were on the lake. He did not take a boat, he walked on the water! Jesus could see his beloved disciples feverishly rowing their little boat and, in a panic, bailing water. Their clothes were sweat soaked and dripping from the spray launched into the air by the howling winds. This was not a good night.
All of a sudden, just before dawn Jesus is seen walking towards them on top of the water. In a state of panic, they could only assume that his figure was that of a ghost. The real ghost buster had arrived. Jesus’ words to them were, “Take courage,” “don’t be afraid.”  Imagine the overwhelming panic in their hearts when all of this was taking place. I can hear the disciples screaming to the guy next to him, row harder! If, you and I were there we would have been thinking of what we should have said to our loved ones the last time we saw them. And yes, we would have begged God for mercy and the forgiveness of all our sins.
Now, the impetuous and courageous man named Peter, the Rock, (Mt.16:18) asked Jesus if he could walk to him on the water. Jesus could have said,” Peter you need to take swimming lessons first before trying this,” but he didn’t. Jesus’ response was one word… “come!” Jesus knew that Peter was safe, though Peter had doubts I am sure, but at least he was willing to take a risk. The other disciples were probably screaming at Peter, “what are you thinking dude?” Peter acted on his faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Heb.11:6
Peter climbed out of the unsteady, bouncing boat. The tall waves were partially blocking his view of Jesus, his Savior. He stood on top of the water shaking uncontrollably as he realized what he had just done. The fear overwhelmed his heart, and he began to sink. We don’t know if he was sinking a few inches or feet in the water, but he was on his way to the bottom of the lake for certain. Can you hear Peter’s desperate cry for help? “Lord, save me!”  He knew there was no other option for survival. His drenched heavy robe would act as an anchor and his muscles were cramping up from exhaustion and terror. The next action from Jesus was immediate. “Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” When Peter thought it was all over, in reality, this was the beginning of a new chapter where his faith in God would take an enormous leap.
Jesus was holding him securely as he had a teaching moment with Peter while standing on top of the swelling and ebbing waves. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” I don’t hear the tone Jesus used as one of great disgust and rebuke. I think it was kind and loving. Peter took a step of courage born out of his love and pursuit of Jesus. We do not know how that conversation carried on or lasted. What we do know is that Peter risked taking a step, in faith, onto something that was not sure, the water. We do know that he made the decision to trust against all human reasoning. We do know that he wanted to be near Jesus in maybe the most terrifying event of his life. None of the other disciples even attempted to get out of the boat. They were white knuckling the oars or clutching the boat gunnels or maybe both.
When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, with significant water inside, the response of all the disciples was, “they worshipped him, saying, truly you are the Son of God.”
In a faith walk there are common elements, one of them being a proving time or test. We can’t have a testimony without a test. Trials of all kinds, as James puts it are for a beneficial purpose. (Jms.1:2) Trails are not because God is angry with you. The opposite is true. He deeply loves you and gives you an opportunity to see how strong and resilient you can be. Reflect on your own history journey of painful experiences. You survived the challenges and learned many valuable lessons, and you are still here to tell the story. Jesus was right there when you needed him. He caught you before you drowned. Whether it was a step of faith or a foolish presumption. He never left you and he did not forsake you. That means he never left you for a short time nor did he abandon you. He has been faithful, he is faithful, and he will be faithful. Because He is God! “He is the same yesterday today and forever.” Heb.13:8
Whether you are in the middle of raging seas or on solid soil, God has made a covenant with you. His love and grace will carry you on your journey. You will live to see the other side of the lake. You will survive the storm and will tell the story of God’s love, faithfulness and grace, His unmerited favor, it is a gift! 
“I carried you on eagle wings and I brought you to myself.” Ex.19:4 Maybe the greatest purpose of the trails we face is to draw us near to our Savior. Peters life adventures are proof of God’s grace, just like your life and mine. Storms will come and go but God remains the same and “He is the anchor for our soul.” Heb.6:9
You can walk on water!

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