On Sunday, my pastor encouraged us to be like Peter, and 'get out of the boat'. Matthew 14 tells us of a time when the disciples found themselves in a storm, and Jesus came to them over the water, telling them not to be afraid. As Jesus approached the boat, the disciples were afraid, prompting Jesus to say "It is I. Do not be afraid." Peter responded, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water" (v.28). Jesus told him to come, and Peter stepped out of the boat. Eventually Peter was frightened and began to sink, but Jesus was there, reaching out His hand to catch him.
I've been thinking about what it looks like to get out of the boat and I keep coming back to the same themes: fear and movement. The disciples see Christ, and are afraid. Peter stands up and gets out of the boat, walking towards Jesus on the water. When He once again becomes afraid, Jesus catches him, telling him to have more faith. That's a lot of action on Peter's part: getting up, stepping out, moving towards. Then there are the actions of Jesus: He comforts the disciples, He calls Peter to him, and then He catches Peter when he falls.
The phrase that continues to run through my mind is, "God will catch us when we trip and fall." He will. The Bible is full of examples of people struggling and of their faith faltering, and God is always there.
In focusing on the promise that God will catch me, I've been focusing on the end result of this whole interaction. I've missed the beginning. I've missed the part that I have to play: I have to get out of the boat. I have to be moving. God will catch us when we trip or fall, but we have to be moving towards him first. I'm a clumsy person, but even I can honestly say that I have never tripped or fallen while standing still.
My desire for safety and my fear of risk are keeping me in place, keeping me from getting closer to God. Peter was afraid, but when Jesus called him closer, he had the courage to get out of the boat. My fear keeps me from stepping out, stepping closer to God and his calling on my life. I'm scared, but Jesus is calling. He says, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
Are you standing still or moving towards God?
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?”