“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
Words spoken to Isaiah centuries before Peter took that first step out of the wave-tossed boat onto the moving Sea of Galilee—fixed upon a single figure beyond the commotion. This true account of Peter’s miraculous feat is one of personal reflection for all of us.
The symbols portrayed in Matthew’s epic script (Matt 14) can deliver to the reader a simple sense of clarity and direction in life—especially when studied together with Paul’s descriptions of Faith found in Hebrews 11 and 12.
In Matthew’s account, Jesus fed the 5,000 and constrained the disciples to enter in a ship to cross the Sea of Galilee while he sent the multitude away. As Jesus then went up into a mountain to pray, the disciples remained on the water through the night until the wind became contrary, and the ship was tossed by the sea. It was in the early hours, just before dawn, that the Savior entered upon the waters of the sea on foot. The disciples, now amid wind and waves, saw the figure of Jesus upon the waters and cried out for fear. . .
The mortal journey we’ve all embarked upon can be likened to the situation the disciples found themselves in. We’ve likewise been constrained to a ship: a ship built for its time, constructed for its intended journey, and filled with a generation of planned occupants—one of which is you. A ship that will support its dwellers to persist upon the waters and waves of mortal life. We soon become very dependent upon the well-constructed ship—perhaps even cling to it in times of turbulent weather. We learn everything we can about the ship and how to operate it—in hopes to succeed in navigating the sea. It becomes a part of us as a people.
In moments of darkness, when the wind and sea are contrary, and we become disquieted by the perils of mortality, fear may be all we can feel. Like the disciples, we can become troubled, even deluded into thinking that our true source of hope is something else entirely.
But in those early dim hours, the disciples were relieved to hear the familiar voice of Him—The source of hope. The one who watched from the shore as they were sent to sea. The one, who just hours before, filled a large multitude with the proverbial bread of life. A voice that beckons, “Come.”
And thus, Peter went to the Lord—with absolute faith in Him!
Do we have the courage of Peter? To step out onto the rolling sea? To let go of the ship? To leave the accepted and typical form of transportation and to walk by faith? Each of us are presented with our own “trial by faith” in this life and as with Peter, each step we take away from the boat, towards the Savior, proves the faith within us. Our lives then become a reverential homage of miracles and impossible feats—woven into a tapestry of steps or moments of great trial. We’ve already seen the numerous blankets of faith woven by previous shipmen (Hebrews 11). Our opportunity is to do likewise, and with each step we are drawn closer to the Savior—leaving behind us a legacy for future sailors and travelers to follow.
What’s important to remember is that none of us walk on water perfectly. We press through boisterous wind of contrary thought and doctrine along with vicissitudinal waves of mortal strife—both contending relentlessly for our attention. Our diversion to these precarious elements can subdue us of our faith and drown us in the depths of the sea. As Peter discovered in his journey across the water, when we lose sight of the Author of our Faith, we can quickly become subject to the vying forces around us, and have our faith become deposed by fear.
In such moments of darkness and calamity, we may sink to our knees with the same desperate plea uttered by Peter when he called to his Savior: “Lord, save me.” The hallowed hand of the Master is never far. We may slip, and we may stumble, but we are never lost when we look to him for help. He will help us up, he will complete our lack, and he will Finish our Faith.
And as the sun breaks forth over the morning horizon, he will lift us out of the despairing waters, we will feel the warmth of the light, and ultimately . . . the wind will cease.
“ . . . let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2