Yesterday my Mary Martha growth group sisters discussed the passage in Matthew where Jesus walks on the water. You know the story? Jesus dismisses a crowd and sends his disciples across the lake in a boat while he goes up on a mountainside to pray. There was a storm that night. Before dawn, Jesus went out to the disciples walking on the water. They were frightened when they saw what they thought was a ghost walking toward them in the eerie pre-dawn light. Jesus said to them "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
Words we sometimes need to hear, aren't they? "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." The strength, the peace those words can bring! Wow!
But then comes Peter. Lovely, human Peter. He means well. He does. Or maybe he's a little cheeky? Asking Jesus, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." Testing Jesus? Is Peter not so sure he is who he says he is?? Would Jesus lie to him? Of course not. But there it is....a little sliver of doubt.
So Jesus says, "Come." Come. Go ahead, test it. Come on out here on the water with me. I am here, don't be afraid. Step out of the boat, out of your comfort zone. Come to Me.
And Peter does! Yes! Go Peter! He steps out, eyes on Jesus. Ready to walk on water, too! But then what happened? He looked down. He took his eyes off Jesus. He saw the waves rolling in the wind. He saw just where he was....on water....deep water. And suddenly, he forgot Jesus was there. He forgot where his focus was. He feared the unknown. Feared the unseen threats around him. He questioned his own ability...which was not enough to walk on water, and he began to sink. And as he sank he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
And Jesus being full of grace and mercy, reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" Oh Peter, why did you lose your focus, why did you let fear in, why did you doubt?
Do you ever have that feeling of drowning in stress or painful circumstances? Where you feel like crying, screaming, kicking? Where you aren't even sure how to breathe anymore? Have you taken your eyes off of Jesus?
What do we know about Jesus? He has said he will never leave us or forsake us. He is with us until the end of the age. The psalmist tells us in Psalm 139 how there is nowhere we can go to get away from God...He is everywhere we go. He knows every thought, every feeling, every pain. The Holy Spirit lives in us, through us, and intercedes for us. There is comfort, and peace in this knowledge. There is reason to trust Him because we know He is not leaving us alone.
I felt like I described above, today. And as I was struggling to function normally, two friends came into my office. One looked at me, she has this uncanny way of looking into my eyes and knowing there is something not right. I have found that I cannot tell her even a half-truth about how I am anymore because she sees right through it. So she stopped, mid-sentence, as she was looking at me and said "Are you ok?" "No." I said as tears flooded my eyes and I struggled to hold them back. "Do you need prayer?" "Yes," I said. They came around my desk, held my shoulders and prayed for me. A beautiful, healing prayer that reminded me that my eyes had fallen from Jesus' face. That I was instead, looking at the storm around me and not the beloved face of my Savior. And I heard Jesus' words..."why did you doubt?"
Why did you doubt? Why did you let your human fears cloud your day? Why did you forget the promises I made to you? Why do you think I am gone from your side? Oh Jesus, forgive my doubt. Forgive me for letting my fears come between us. Doubt is not trust.
So let's try again. Eyes on Jesus!