Standing ankle deep in the ocean’s edge, my prayers were filled with less angst than years past. I left the beach comforted by the thought, God is with me. Heaving my requests onto the majesty and power of Creator God, I know He hears me and goes with me.
My imagination flooded with boats being tossed in the span of waves beyond the horizon. For me it recapped the varieties of turmoil the Lord was seeing me through. From the shore, I could appreciate the view of the waves, but simultaneously be thankful that I was not amid the torment of the great deep – but I have been, as an Autism mom and otherwise.
I visualized Jesus walking out toward the wave-buffeted boat in Matthew 14. He had no fear; He was the storm-maker. Jesus said, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27 NIV) Peter responds from the storm-tossed boat, compelling Jesus to ask for his company and together they walked on water!
Peter accomplished something in the presence of Christ no one has done since! Then he made himself relatable to us again – he began to sink. Peter did what we all do in the storm…He took his eyes off the Savior, began to see only the wind and waves, and began to be swallowed up by his surroundings. At last Peter cried, “Lord, save me!” Without hesitation, Jesus reached out, caught him, and lovingly rebuked him, saying, “Oh you of little faith – why did you doubt?”
Jesus could have thrown his voice from the shores, exclaiming, “Just swim, I’ve got you!” or “Just ride it out. You’ll be ok.” He could have calmed the storm with a few words as He did in Matthew 8. He had all power, creativity, and resources. So why did Jesus do it this way? Everything He does is sovereign and loving, so perhaps we can glean several things from this account.
- Jesus is present with us in our storms. There is nothing we face God did not bring about, orchestrate, or create for our good and for His glory. (Romans 8:28) The purpose, however, is not the point – the point is His presence. When Jesus gave the Great Commission to Peter (and others), He reminded him, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
I wonder how often Peter remembered his experience with Jesus on the water, the feel of Jesus’ grasp, and the sound of His voice saying, “Why did you doubt?” For all the moments Peter faced in life, ministry, and even his death, Peter knew Jesus was with him. We are blessed with the same assured promise of the presence of Christ in our storms!
- It might be time to get out of the boat! There are times the Spirit prompts us to fix our eyes upon Christ and take steps into turbulent water. We will leave many behind in the boat, but we will walk where others dare not trod. (Indulge me in this word picture).
Church, we often communicate from shores, instead of amidst the storm. Countless times I have stood safely away from the overwhelming flood of someone’s life, instead of engaging or rescuing in the throes of danger. It is messy and risky, but Jesus walked into our storm, walking from the safety of the shore, standing amidst us on the water. He might want us to do this for others more than we are!
- WHEN we fall, WHEN our eyes shift, WHEN our faith fails, Jesus will show greater compassion than we expect. Sinking Peter cried out for his only hope – Jesus. IMMEDIATELY, Jesus reached out his hand to catch Peter.
We need to know, yes, Jesus calls out our lack of faith. How could He not when He is the Son of God walking on the water in the midst of a killer storm to meet us, unscathed by the things we fear most? Yes, how could we doubt?! We might be startled by His correction, but if you are like me, His rebuke might seem more gracious than expected. There are so many things Jesus could have said but didn’t!
- Being with Jesus does not mean the storm subsides. We want that statement to not be true, but Matthew 14:32 says the wind did not die down until Jesus and Peter returned to the boat. Peter had a unique encounter, in the very presence of Christ, standing on top of the water as no man apart from Jesus had ever done…but the storm still raged. Peter’s experience intimately describes fellowship with Christ – not merely benefitting from protection but being within His strong grasp and His loving work in your life, even while the storm rages.
Your storm may be at its strongest…maybe the winds are dissipating…or perhaps you may be standing on the shore watching the storm clouds gather in your future. Know that in Christ, you are never alone. The One who brings you to the storm, will He Himself bring you through the storm.