From Gary Paulsen:
“...but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Over the past four weeks I have had the privilege to have written three blogs for the EBF website. I missed last week’s assignment and have been struggling composing one for this week. Why?
Well, the answer to that question is that I have really been struggling to apply the very things I taught in those blogs to my life on a real gut level. That is not to say that I did not fully appreciate Paul’s command to rejoice always from Philippians 4:4. And that I truly did until about ten days ago. I also absolutely understood the Apostle’s admonition to pray always and to be anxious for nothing from Phil 4:5-6, and those truths I did indeed practice, for a short season. From my last blog I was able to recognize from our Lord’s teaching in Luke 8:22-25 that faith in his absolute sovereignty over all of life’s situations was essential in overcoming the storms of life. Again, I practiced what I preached, or rather wrote, for a short time. But then, I hit a spiritual wall. I found myself lacking joy. Additionally, I was anxious and my prayers lacked any true depth. My faith in my Lord’s ability to see me through this present crisis wavered and waned. I returned to the blogs that I had written and I surveyed them I could only I think of Christ’s words, “Physician, heal thyself.”
What happened to me? In reality my circumstances had not change significantly. The virus was still out there threatening. The financial burden of the crisis remains a constant weight, but I had been dealing with that victoriously. The loss of freedom imposed by the stay at home orders lingers, yet not that long ago I prevailed in faith over that inconvenience. For the greater part of the last month I had victoriously overcome these trials, but now something had happened. Something in me had changed. The circumstances were unchanged, my Lord was unchanged, but I was now troubled.
I realized that my situation was much like the one Peter found himself in Matthew 14:24-32. In this account of Jesus walking on the water we learn that the storm was severe. The ESV translators describe the wind as having “beaten” them. The word in the original tongue describes someone who is tormented, harassed, or even tortured. They were in a difficult if not a dire situation. Then, in the midst of the storm walking toward them comes their Lord. So extraordinary is this site that the disciples, believing that they are seeing a ghost, scream in great fear. Jesus comforts them, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
These words are founded upon the limitless power and infinite love of Christ towards his disciples. Peter fully submits to his Lord’s command. His fear is gone and taking its place is great and profound faith. Peter asks, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Peter knows that with Christ’s power he, like his Master, can walk upon the raging and fomenting sea. Jesus commands him to “Come.”
Peter does the miraculous. First, he gets out of the boat. Nothing has changed, the wind is still whipping about the sea is yet raging. But he gets out of the boat.
He then, he begins to walk on the water. Still no change in the storm; sea boiling and wind driving relentlessly and still he walks.
And finally, his steps on the surface of the water are bringing him closer to Jesus notwithstanding the pummeling of waves and wind.
Peter is walking in great faith toward Jesus on the surface of the sea and there has been no change in the character of the storm.
It was at that moment that Peter’s great faith vanished. The text explains Peter’s problem, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Peter, while walking toward Jesus began to focus on the storm and the wind. The waves were no higher, the wind was no more intense than it was when Peter first left the boat yet Peter began to sink like a stone. Why? Peter began looking at the storm. He focused on the impossible situation of the tumult around him rather than on He who could perform the impossible. The circumstance had not changed at all, but Peter’s view shifted. He fixed his eye on the storm rather than the Savior.
And that, my Christian friend, is exactly my position today. I have been struggling because I have been looking at the wind, and the rain, and the storm rather that the Lord who controls the wind, the rain, and the storms. Let’s continue together looking to the Lord and his ability to still the storm. Let’s stop concentrating on the wind, and the rain, and the storms.
I’ll close with this admonition given to me today by one of our church elders, Stan Davis. It is taken from Psalm 118:5-9:
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.