Trusting God Outside the Boat
Read Matthew 14:22-36
“But seeing the wind, he became frightened.”
It is one thing to trust God in the safety of a boat, but faith quickly evaporates when one is out in the storm. It had been a long and exhausting day. After hearing the devastating news of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus and the disciples had sought solitude to try to absorb the shocking information that John had been beheaded. But instead of finding a reprieve to process their grief, the people came running. A day that started with a desire to withdraw from the crowds was spent ministering to thousands of people. By the end of the day, Jesus and the disciples were physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. To have some time alone with his Heavenly Father, Jesus sent the disciples across the Sead of Galilee in a boat. However, what should have been an easy journey soon became an arduous task as the waves and the winds conspired against them. Their struggle to cross the sea turned into an all-night affair. IN verse 25, we find that they were still fighting the storm in the fourth watch of the night (3 am-6 am). After laboring intensely all night, they would have been physically exhausted.
In the early morning, before the sun started to rise, their exhaustion turned into fear as they looked across the water and saw a form walking towards them. Exhausted minds can run wild with distorted imaginations. When they saw the form, they thought it was some evil spirit coming towards them. Then, to their great surprise, the form called out to them with a familiar voice, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter immediately recognized the voice as the voice of Jesus.
Then Peter does the remarkable, at the encouragement of Jesus, Peter steps out of the boat and begins walking on water towards Jesus. What was going through his mind when he took this step of faith, we can only speculate. We know that his initial act of bravado and faith soon was overwhelmed by doubt and fear. It did not take long for Peter’s eyes to get off of Jesus and become riveted upon the waves. As a result of his fears, he quickly began to sink as the waves started crashing over him, and except for the saving hand of Christ, he quickly would have drowned.
This brings us to the struggle we have with doubt. When life is easy, and our understanding of God’s activity conforms to our expectations and thoughts, it is easy to affirm our faith in God. But when the waves start to crash, and God takes us down paths that are unfamiliar and troubling, paths that contradict what we think, then doubts begin to arise, and we start to question the activity and wisdom of God.
What sustains our faith is our focus. Do we focus on the circumstances around us? Do we quest God’s word when it does not conform to our expectations or thinking? Do we start to fear when we see the troubling circumstances about us? When we do, then doubts begin to creep in, and our faith begins to waver. The problem with Peter was not the waves; it was his focus. In the tumult of the storm, his focus shifted from Christ to the waves. As we go through the daily affairs of life, we need to keep our focus upon Christ, trusting him and relying upon him entirely. The waves may still crash about us, but we will find that we are walking on water.