“He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” - Matthew 14: 29-31
I have loved the water ever since I was a child, and in traveling I always take an opportunity to swim - lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and especially the ocean - there is always a 100% chance that I will jump in, no matter the temperature of the water.
But something I have realized about the ocean, is that although it is beautiful and gives me a sense of peace and freedom, it is also incredibly powerful and sometimes downright scary. There are three moments from the last year that specifically stand out to me as times when I experienced the power of the ocean:
I remember the first time I tried surfing in Australia - one of my favorite travel memories was the moment I was able to get up on the board and ride my first wave. But before that moment, I had spent hours and hours of getting knocked around by the waves. By the end of my first session, I was covered in bruises, scrapes, sand-burns, and a dilapidated ego.
But my love of the water and the feeling of being up on that board made me keep coming back for more. So a few weeks later, I found myself surfing once again in Raglan, New Zealand. By then I was surfing on my own and had allowed my excitement to turn into overconfidence. I was ecstatic to have hit a good streak of catching waves, and I had neglected to pay attention to how far out into the water I had gotten. I ended up caught in a riptide. I have always considered myself a fairly strong swimmer, and often fearless when it comes to facing a long distance or big waves. But this riptide was just too strong for me, and I was too far away from any people to call for help. I felt helpless as the water crashed around me, the current spinning and pulling me into its center.
A third time when I experienced this power was while jumping waves at a beach in New Zealand. Again, I was happily playing in the water, and lost sight of how far out I had gone. The waves started to get bigger and bigger, but I couldn’t get back to shore fast enough. I was running to shore, but for a brief moment turned to look behind me. Just as a I did, a huge wave crashed over my head, slapping me across the face and then shoving me forcefully to the bottom of the rocky ocean floor. I tried standing up, but the waves were strong and came continuously. The water pressure was forcing my body to the ocean floor, and I couldn't get up even for a quick breath of air. My lungs were burning, and I panicked, thinking I would surely drown. It was completely terrifying. I remember the complete shock I felt as I realized how powerful the waves were.
I reflect on those terrifying moments, and then think about what it would be like to walk on water in the middle of a storm. So often, I take the Bible lightly - not that I don’t believe that the stories in it are real, but it’s hard for me to connect with them. I feel like “Noah’s Ark,” and “Adam and Eve" -those “Sunday school type stories” - happened **so** long ago. But our God is the same, supernatural, powerful God that He was so many years ago that day with Peter. So to connect better with the story, I sometimes make myself pretend like it happened yesterday. I picture Peter, or myself, or anyone, walking out on those waves I saw in Australia and New Zealand. Now that seems insane.
An interesting part of this passage to me is that Peter didn’t begin to sink, until he started looking at the wind. When he first walked out, he was talking to Jesus, and so I assume Peter was looking right at Him. But in the same moment in which he started to focus on the storm surrounding him, he began to sink.
I wish I could say that I came across this passage this evening while reading the Bible, but honestly I have been struggling to get in the Word at all these last few days. So, it was just simply God’s grace that He brought this story to my mind tonight. And wow, as soon as it did, I realized that I have been just like Peter during the last month.
This season of life is just - difficult. I don’t really know how to describe it well. Life feels hopeless, frustrating, and often just monotone right now. Adjusting to living in the States once again hasn’t been easy. I’m worried about a million things - school and jobs and relationships and the future in general. I have felt so overwhelmed and don’t know how to deal with everything I’ve been feeling lately. But this evening God was so gracious in reminding me of this Bible passage.
Peter was able to walk on water, in the midst of a great storm, as long as he was looking at Jesus. The moment that he began to look around him, the storm got the best of him and he began to sink.
Troubles of the world seem like just too much to deal with lately, but I am realizing that my focus has been completely on these concerns, instead of Jesus. The storm was still waging on as Peter walked on water, but as he looked to our Savior, Jesus allowed him to walk through it.
God is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. That same God that allowed Peter to walk on water, is with me in the midst of this crazy storm of life that I feel like I’ve been going through lately. He is with each of us during all of our life “storms.”
But we are not alone in our storms, though so often that is how we feel. He promises to be with us. And even when we do fail, when we look away from His face and to the troubles of the world, He is still there. He waits for us simply to turn to Him again, to ask him to save us, and He will be faithful.
“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” - Matthew 14:31
I am encouraged to look to Jesus during the difficult seasons of life as well as during the more joyful times, and thankful for His grace and unconditional love when I fail to do this well.
Our God is an awesome God.
I love Jesus and what He has to teach me while I wander around the planet. My other favorite things include: foreign languages, yoga, hiking,
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