Walk-on-Water Moments

Matthew 14:24-31(NLT): Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.  About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Faith is an elusive concept to explain. To me, saying one has faith is to proclaim a belief in a power larger than life that is capable of operating at a level beyond the natural world with its physical limitations and ecological boundaries. It means accepting that there are times when you need a  power greater than human power to intervene in the natural realm in an unearthly manner, and knowing that God is that higher and greater power. In my lifetime, I have had to call on God the Father, Yahweh of Israel, to help me overcome situations that no human being could fix for me. I call these “walk-on-water moments.” Walk-on-water moments stem from the story of Peter’s walk on water found in the Bible in Matthew, Chapter 14.

Jesus had just fed 5000 men and countless numbers of women and children with five loaves of bread and two fishes. He, then, advised the disciples to get into a boat and go to the other side of the lake while he sent the people home. When the people had left, Jesus went into the hills by himself to pray, and it was very late by the time he left to meet the disciples.  The disciples were in trouble out on the lake, as heavy waves were assaulting their boat. It had to be quite a storm to cause them such fear and anxiety, for some of them were experienced fishermen and spent much time on water.

The Bible story reveals that it was about three o’clock in the morning (some translations say between 3:00am to 6:00am) when Jesus came walking on the water towards them. They thought they were seeing a ghost! But, Jesus identified himself, and he told them not to be afraid because he was there. Peter, bless his heart, ever the impulsive one, challenged Jesus to call him out on the water, if he really was Jesus. Jesus answered for Peter to come.

Peter, stepped over the side of the boat, and began to walk on the water. He would have kept walking all the way to Jesus, but, being human like you and me, he started to notice the wind and the waves, and to realize the impossibility of what he was doing. By taking his eyes off Christ Jesus and looking at his situation through human eyes, he faltered and started to fall. But, Jesus caught him before he touched the water. Jesus asked Peter why he had so little faith and doubted Jesus’s ability to keep him safe. After all, Peter and the disciples had just witnessed Jesus take five loaves of bread and two fishes and turn a small meal into a feast for tens of thousands of people, with twelve baskets of leftovers. So, why didn’t Peter trust Jesus enough to keep walking out to where Jesus stood on the water?  It seems Peter suffered a little spiritual amnesia, forgetting the power of God that he had witnessed just the day before.

While we are not called on to walk on water to demonstrate our faith, every day trials and tribulations assail us from all places in our lives, causing us to put our faith on trial nearly daily. These trials may be involve our physical, mental, emotional, financial, or marital health, and troubles are different for each of us. If you have never had a walk-on-water moment, then just keep on living! I guarantee they will come, although I hope you are spared many of them.

In the walk-on-water moments in my life, I have had to learn to keep my eyes on Jesus, rather than on the circumstances of the situation. I had to ask God for the courage to step over the side of the boat and into the roiling waters beneath my feet, and, for enough  faith to keep walking. I will tell you that many times, I, like Peter, also faltered because of the immensity of the circumstances, but when I called out to Jesus to save me, he reached out and grabbed me before I could fall into the sea of despair, desperation, and disbelief. I found newfound faith in the power of God to save us,  and I learned that none of us are ever alone in the land of the living. God, our Creator, Comforter, and Savior, is always with us, even when we seem to be alone in the storms of this life. There will be many moments when you and I will need to walk on water, putting all of our faith and trust in a power greater than us to solve the problems we experience.

When Jesus and Peter entered the boat, the disciples are recorded acknowledging that Jesus really is the Son of God. They are in awe of him, because he walked on water, a seemingly impossible feat, and, I believe, they remembered that he had completed another superhuman feat, the feeding of so many people with so little, and this bolstered their faith. Let remembering his past assistance to us or to others we read about or know personally bolster our faith as well.

Dear Heavenly Father,

    May your glory fill the earth! I honor you, thank you, and glorify your Name for the storms of life you have brought me through. I am cheerful, even in my trials and tribulations, because you have demonstrated in my life that You have truly overcome the world, for you quieted the storms in my life just when I thought I was going to drown in my sorrows and fears. Today, my prayer is that you will give me the courage to walk out on the water towards you when the winds and waves seem unbearably close to swamping the boat of life. Let me not suffer spiritual amnesia or forget what you have done for me in the past or what I have seen you do in other people’s lives. Instead, Holy Spirit, bring memories of past help to my remembrance, so that my faith in you, O God of Heaven, is renewed daily. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

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