What to do When You’re Sinking
We all know the story of Jesus and Peter walking on water, but some things about it struck me differently today.
First, Jesus made the disciples get into that boat and sail on ahead of Him INTO A STORM while he wrapped up a long day of teaching with some solitary prayer time (Matthew 14:22-23). In other words, while He was safely on land…
That doesn’t sound like the western Christian life at all… Lovey-dovey Jesus makes us go into uncomfortable, frightening, even dangerous situations?
Then, in the middle of the night, Jesus decides to walk across the lake toward the boat. And do you know how the disciples reacted? The Bible says, “They were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear,” (Matthew 14:26).
So for those keeping score at home, Jesus sent the disciples into a terrifying situation, and then He Himself terrifies them!
“But Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid,'” (Matthew 14:27).
If the disciples were anything like me, Jesus’ words did very little to actually quell the fear inside them.
Peter, evidently, was like me, because he needed more proof that this ghost-like creature really was Jesus.
“‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water,'” (Matthew 14:28).
And that right there is where the similarities between Peter and I end. I would’ve been more prone to say something like, “Lord, if it’s you, come get in the boat with me, and maybe bring some ice cream?”
Jesus’ response to Peter is even more startling than Peter’s offer to get out of the boat. Jesus says, “Come,” (Matthew 14:29).
“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus,” (Matthew 14:29).
Peter RISKED HIS LIFE to COME TOWARD JESUS.
Peter accepted Christ’s invitation to come!
Peter walked in obedience to the Lord in terrifying, dangerous, nonsensical circumstances…
“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:30).
The wind didn’t all of a sudden kick up after Peter had gotten out of the boat and was walking in obedience. The wind had been there all along. Peter had been aware that it was gusty before he made the choice to come toward Jesus.
But while he was in the boat, the wind was not nearly as terrifying as it was when he was attempting to walk on water.
The dangers of the wind became more readily apparent without the safety of the boat. So, too, Peter became more afraid of the wind.
Fear paralyzed Peter, and he began to sink.
But when he began to sink, Peter did the perfect thing: he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Peter didn’t call to the other disciples to throw him a life preserver, nor did Peter start trying to swim back to the boat.
He knew those things wouldn’t work in the midst of a storm in the middle of a huge lake.
Peter knew the only One who could save him was Jesus.
And I love – LOVE – what happens next.
“Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him,” (Matthew 14:31).
Jesus didn’t let Peter bob below the surface a few times just to teach him a lesson.
Jesus didn’t give Peter a talking to about trust before He offered to help.
Jesus immediately saved Peter.
And how Jesus saved Peter is just as beautiful – with His own hand. By His own touch, with His own strength.
Jesus could’ve told the wind and the waves to stop to save Peter. But He didn’t. Or He could’ve instructed the other disciples to throw Peter a line. But He didn’t. Or He could’ve coached Peter to swim to Him, but He didn’t.
He didn’t do any of those things.
When Peter, gripped with fear and short on faith, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and saved Peter.
What makes us think He won’t do the same for us?!
As we take steps toward Jesus, obeying Him to come, there will be fear and doubt and we will begin to sink. But He is too good and loves us too much to not respond immediately to our plea, “Lord, save us!”
All we have to do is cry out.
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