“So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.” ~Matthew 14:29
No matter where you go in the Bible, you’ll find that memorable stories of faith always involved risky steps of daring obedience. So it is in this story where Peter leaves the other disciples sitting in the relative safety and comfort of their boat, takes a few steps of faith on the water in the middle of a storm, and walks out to meet Jesus, becoming the first person—and only human being that I know of—to literally walk on the water. Peter, a mere mortal, just a common Galilean fisherman, joined Jesus in a very elite club of which there were only two members: The Water Walker Club.
Now this is more than just another one of those incredible Bible stories we read as kids about the superheroes of the faith. This is a story meant to inspire water-walking faith in common, ordinary, garden-variety believers. And within this particular story are several important lessons that Peter’s adventure can teach other mere mortals like you and me that we will need to keep in mind when we finally get up the courage to step out of our boat of comfort to take those bold and daring steps of faith to obey God:
First, the wind won’t stop blowing just because you take a step of faith. In fact, the storm may pick up a little. The truth is, faith needs a storm to be faith, or it is not faith. But the great thing about storms is that although Jesus doesn’t promise to keep you from them, he does promise to be with you in them. And in fact, it is the very resistance of the wind in those storms that provides the lift needed for faith to soar. So take that step of faith into the storm and watch what happens.
Second, when you take your step of faith into the raging storm, you will need to remember the one command that God most often gives his people: “Fear not!” Did you know that there are 366 “fear not’s” in the Bible? That is one for every day of the year (including an extra one for leap year). I don’t think that number is by mistake—I think God knew that you and I would need to be reminded every single day not to give into fear. Every single day, including today, God is reminding you to choose faith instead, because fear and faith cannot coexist in those who would be water walkers.
Three, when the storm is raging, your assignment is simply to keep your eyes on Jesus—and just keep walking toward him. “Don’t give up” is another repeated command in the Bible. To join Peter in the water walker club, you will have to make the determination to stay focused on the One who is the Master over the storm—because it is Jesus alone who will see us through.
Is there an area of faith where you are being tempted to give up because you have come into some unexpected and impossible circumstances? That is the perfect condition, my friend, to exercise water walking faith. So don’t give into fear and keep your focus on Jesus, because yet another heroic faith story is about to be written!
In the 1950’s, the name Florence Chadwick was synonymous with women’s championship swimming. She was the first woman to swim the English Channel–both ways. In fact, she did it three times, each time going against the tide.
But one of her distance swims was not so successful. She failed to reach her goal, all because she lost sight of it. Florence had set out on July 4, 1952 to swim the 21 miles from Santa Catalina Island to the California mainland. But on this particular morning, the 34-year-old found the water to be numbingly cold, and the fog was so thick she could hardly see the boats in her envoy, which were along side her to scare away the sharks.
As the hours ticked off, she swam on. Fatigue was never a serious problem…it was the bone-chilling coldness of the icy waters that threatened her. Finally, more than fifteen hours after she started, numbed by the cold, Florence asked to be taken out of the water, unable to go on.
Her mother, in a boat beside her, urged her to go on, as did her trainer. They both knew that the mainland had to be close, very close. Yet Florence quit. She got into the boat and fell short of her goal. The boat traveled just a short distance until the coastline could be seen. Florence had stopped only a half-mile short of the finish. Upon realizing how close she had come, she dejectedly cried, “If I could have seen the shore I would have made it.”
If you are going to be a faith walker…or a water walker…
…Get ready for the storm
…Choose faith over fear
…Keep your eyes on Jesus
…And above all, never give up!
“Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t get discouraged and give up.” ~Galatians 6:9 (Living Bible)