|You might remember that recently I was speaking about the account of Jesus travelling towards the disciples, walking on the water, as they were in the middle of a storm, in the middle of the lake, in the middle of the night.
As Jesus approaches the disciples they experience and express great fear, and Jesus immediately says to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
I wonder what it would be like for us if we saw one who claimed to be God walking on the water towards us? What if this one who claimed to be God invited us to test the waves? And we did! … and there we stood, with feet firmly planted on liquid earth!
What would you do? Would unshakable faith well up? Would questions and concerns melt away, seeming foolish now that you had seen and knew what was true? If you’re anything like me, probably not!
As we look at Peter, we see that he doubted. He wondered if Jesus was enough to handle his turmoil, perhaps if the notion of God were even true.
Peter was with the disciples on a small fishing vessel, tossed and rocked as the ship strained and moaned against the waves.’ Fighting for their lives, they saw Jesus walking across the waves toward them. But they were unsure. Was it really Him? How could it be?
As we know, Peter made what seems to be an absurd request. “If it is really you, have me come out to you.”
“Come,” said the figure standing on the water, in the middle of the storm. And he did. Almost without thinking, Peter hiked up his robe, stepped over the edge of the boat and took a few steps. Peter actually walked on water!
But what transpires next is confusing.
Peter feels the surge of the wind and the seize of the powerful waves. And he doubts. As Peter’s faith fails, he begins to go under. But Jesus reaches out, pulls him up and asks him: “Why did you doubt?”
Probably like me, you might find this story unsettling. If Peter could doubt, if Peter wasn’t quite sure, what does it say about my faith? If Peter wasn’t certain, how can I ever be?
As I reflect on this account, I believe that Peters experience points us to an important distinction. It is easy to assume that faith and certainty are the same thing. But God doesn’t! Certainty is proof. Certainty is mathematical equations and verifiable evidence. Faith, on the other hand, is holding on to God when life batters you, when all the forces of hell assault you.
Jesus’ question is deeply profound. Not because Peter had seen the miraculous, but because Peter had seen Jesus. Jesus stood on the waves and offered Peter an invitation. Today, He continues to offer the same invitation to us.
There is something deeper than certainty, something deeper than proof. It is faith in faith that Jesus has spoken, has breathed His life into our hearts, has offered us Himself.
The question for us is whether or not we will leap into the dark, uncertain waters of faith.
As we go into this coming week, with all that surrounds us I wonder whether we might pray the following prayer:
Jesus, help me hold onto You and faith.
I often worry about my circumstances, but I don’t want to, because I know You have my life in Your hands. More than anything, I want to follow You even if I don’t have all of the answers.
Give me a fresh revelation of your presence and power as I navigate the challenges and complexities of life and seek to reflect you.
In Jesus name.