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 in the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat . . . -Matthew 14:27-28
Sometime in the late 1980s, my parents decided to stop for a meal before returning to their condo in Des Plaines, IL. During the meal, my dad felt faint. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed a bleeding ulcer caused by taking too much aspirin for a sore shoulder. Their Buick LeSabre, however, remained in the restaurant parking lot. Mom had never learned to drive. So at age 70+, all 4’10” and 98 pounds of mom determined that this dilemma wouldn’t repeat itself. Braving the “little fish in a big Chicago pond” syndrome, she signed up for driving lessons and subsequently passed the test for her license.
When our ministry downsizing or vocation loss boat has capsized, we’re forcibly thrust into the unknown. We wonder (aka “fear”) if we will be pulled under by isolation and material needs. Engulfed by uncertainty, there is a temptation to bail out with hastily contrived life rafts rather than to step out as we cling to faith in our sovereign Lord. Yet, as Abba Anthony, a Desert Father, once cautioned: “Wherever you find yourself, do not easily leave.” We must be intentional in steadying our course because, as John Ortberg points out, fear will sink us faster than anything else . Fear disrupts faith and is the most significant barrier to trusting and praising God.
Peter’s bold walk on the Sea of Galilee to meet Jesus put him in a position to fail. But more importantly, Peter’s resolve also put him in a position to grow. Similarly, we have nothing to lose- we’re already out of the boat. We are comforted by the realization that God not only comes to us in moments when we’re most lifted up, but in our lowest place of vulnerability and fear. Pastor Ortberg reminds us what it is like to walk on water:
“Walking on water is not about something of great value that you will do. . . . It is about what God longs to do with you by his power and grace.”