Early morning, but the sun will not rise for at least two hours.
A heavy wind tears through the surrounding Galilean hills and drops to the Sea, the sudden temperature change causing the waves to crash and churn with fury. Miles from shore, a small fishing boat is relentlessly tossed about in the storm.
Among Jesus’ other disciples, Peter coughs and gasps as another wave crashes over the boat. The cold, salty water stings his eyes. Another disciple strains at the oars, muscles burning with fatigue. How long can they keep this up?
Rushing wind, darkness, but there – in the distance – a ghost? The disciples cry out in fear as the figure comes closer, moving calmly over the waves.
“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter feels a rush of relief. That voice – unmistakable. Can it be --?
“Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water!”
A single word is all it takes. At his Lord’s command, Peter scrambles to climb over the wet, slippery side of the boat. The black waves crashing beneath him, he releases his grip and is suddenly in the sea… standing?
Peter moves forward…one step…another…it is the Lord!
But a blast of wind steals his attention and he turns his eyes away from Jesus and toward the storm in fear. He’s sinking!
“Lord, save me!”
In an instant Jesus stretches out His hand and takes hold of Peter, His voice questioning and yet so full of love --“You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Would I, like Peter, have the courage to step out of the boat and plunge faithfully into the sea at my Lord’s command?
I can’t imagine so, but I can still relate to this story. Although perhaps not on the same level, I can identify with Peter’s passionate call to the Lord to command him to get out of the boat. Sometimes my prayers, although worded differently, echo the same spirit as Peter’s.
“Lord, call me to greater things! Strip away my fear, help me to follow You!”
And the call comes - an invitation to step outside the safety and comfort of familiarity, to walk through a trial or difficult circumstance, to overcome a fear or stronghold of some kind. I may start out filled with faith – my Lord is near, why should I fear? With my eyes on Him, I am not focusing on the size of the waves that may crash about beneath my feet.
But after a while I become distracted, and my focus turns from the Lord to the difficulties that surround me. Instead of viewing them through eyes of faith, I allow fear to take over, and I start to sink.
“I don’t think I can do this, Father!”
But then - just as Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of Peter - He takes my hand too.
“You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
And at the sound of His voice, my heart is stilled. Perspective is gained. My anxious spirit is replaced with peace. Why do I doubt? He is near! His hand is right there; ready to hold me up when I start to sink.