Concerning faith, I had a thought recently that I would like to share with you…
Recently, I was reading the story in the Bible of Peter walking on water. Growing up in the church, it’s a story that became very familiar to me. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard this story told and retold through various mediums and platforms. For some reason, though, this time I caught something that had escaped me or, rather, that I didn’t know I was looking for.
There are three accounts of this story in the Bible: Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-56, and John 6:16-24. Matthew’s is the most detailed and “complete” version so I’ll be referencing his rendition. As a quick recap, our story begins after Jesus feeds over 5,000 people with nothing but 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-14). When the fish fry came to an end – when the deejay got whack and the Kool-Aid was done – Jesus had His disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him across to the other side of the Sea of Galilee while He sent all those folk on home, according to Matthew and Mark. Afterwards, He went up into the mountain, alone, to pray. At some point in time, the disciples got caught in a pretty bad storm. Mind you, this wasn’t the first time (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, and Luke 8:22-25). You’d think that, after the first episode, the disciples would’ve known by now how to carry themselves but, oh, how quickly we forget what God has done for us and the many situations He’s brought us through. How quickly we then find ourselves reverting to old habits, behaving and reacting in a way that isn’t beneficial to and reflective of our would-be growth.
So, the disciples are being “tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary” (v. 24) and, if history is any indication, they would undoubtedly give themselves to panic and all manner of despair. They are wimps, after all. The Bible tells us that “…Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear.” (v. 25 & 26)
Jesus, being the sweetheart that He is, simply says, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (v. 27) Peter, being the outspoken and impetuous fellow that he was, needed some proof, so he replies with the side-eye: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (v. 28) Jesus bids him. It is at this point in our story that our boy Pedro begins to walk on water towards the Christ. He was doing alright in the beginning; Pedro was actually walking on water. But, at some point, that bravado and machismo faded away when he caught wind of his situation (pun intended). “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!'” (v. 30) The Bible tells us that “immediately” (v. 31) Jesus pulls him back up. He then asks Pedro a question that I’ve come to appreciate as one of the most pertinent and penetrating questions Jesus Christ asked of His disciples, on several occasions, and asks of us today: “Where’s your faith?” (v. 31)
So, here’s what I didn’t know I was looking for… When Jesus rescued dear Pedro from the depths and pulled him back up, they were still standing on the water and they were still in the midst of the storm. The Bible tells us that the winds did not cease their raging until after they got back into the boat. (v. 32) Since Peter walked out to Jesus, obviously they would have to walk back to the boat. What matters here is the fact that, for all intents and purposes, nothing about Peter’s situation had changed; the winds were still contrary and boisterous and he, along with the rest of the disciples, were still in the middle of the sea, caught in a storm. Peter’s situation improved not because he was back in the safety of the boat, not because the storm about him had ceased, and not even because Jesus was there as He had been all along: Peter’s situation took a turn for the better simply because his focus went back to Jesus Christ.
Here’s the lesson I learned:
Jesus Christ is always quick to rescue me in the midst of my storm, but He won’t readily deliver me out of my storm.
I do not believe that He cannot or will not deliver us out of spite. Contrary to what people may say, that’s not God. That’s not His character; He doesn’t have that in Him. I personally believe that, depending on how much faith we choose to employ, depending on how much trust we choose to put in Him, He will not readily deliver us out of our storms out of love. Why is that?
In the heart of the sea is where we prove our mettle and find out what we’re made of.
In the heart of the sea is where we meet God where He is and draw closer to Him.
In the heart of sea is where we step out in faith and allow its application to grow.
In the heart of the sea is where we can see the full power of God and witness His command and authority over absolutely everything.
In the heart of the sea is where we muster up the courage and the strength to get through this thing called “life”.
Sometimes we allow our storms to take our eyes off of Jesus and immediately we’re overwhelmed by the tempest and find ourselves in the deep. Seemingly with our final breath, we cry out to God will all that we have left and, in His infinite grace and mercy, He rescues us. He will rescue us, but the storm will rage on. There are lessons to be learned in the storm and God will see to it that those lessons are learned. (Proverbs 3:11, 12) It is His purpose for us that we mature in Him and lack nothing. (James 1:4) And so, in the storm we will remain until the lesson is learned, until the test is taken, until the course is passed. That is when deliverance takes place.
It is not a question of circumstance, but a matter of perspective. If Christ is unbothered in the heart of the sea, then so too should I.
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