Matthew 14:22-33 (NLT/ESV – composite) 4/5/11
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 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; The ‘I Am’ is here. 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. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Lord Jesus, You are God. You are power. You are authority. And You demonstrated these parts of Your character through service and genuine care, as well as through communion and intentional, uninterrupted intimacy with Your Father. Your intimacy and communion with the Father empowered the miracles You performed. When You honored the Father by being in His Presence and in turn obeying His direction, provision was made – even when walking on the sea was what was needed for You to carry them out.
I am struck with Your patience and Your continuous training and stretching of Your followers, these men we call Your disciples and apostles. Surely, You took great delight in them, even in their failures and their misinformed attempts to “get it right” and conform to their good Jewish upbringing.
You moved quickly, You moved slowly, You were attentive, You were withdrawn, You were present, You made Yourself invisible – all the ordinary ways of being that each of us puts to use every single day. But the timing of it – Yours was perfect; mine is still hit and miss.
Preparing. Tilling. Softening. Making ready. These are the marks of Your speaking into their lives – and into mine today.
*What were the disciples thinking when Jesus sent them ahead? Did they even wonder how He was going to join them? Did it occur to them, or were they so exhausted they just followed His instructions without even thinking about it? ~ What am I thinking as I carry out what I hear as Your directives? How much of what I do is without genuine thought or curiosity? How do I interpret the “directives” I read in Your Word and hear from respected Christian leaders? How often do I miss out on the opportunity to dialogue with You, to truly get to know You as I question and wonder and seek and diligently apply myself to being present and engaged with You?
*And what were they thinking as they battled the wind and the waves? Did they just go into automatic pilot and immediately return to the structures of their “real” lives – fishermen who had been on these very waters night after night after night, throwing their nets and hauling their catch, and battling the elements, just like this night? ~ Guilty! I know I frequently revert to comfortable patterns established and reinforced in the past. How often I miss the opportunity to clarify Your instructions with You? How often do I just run ahead as soon as I hear the instructions, and in my fatigue and my self-absorption just think I can handle this one, done it a million times, could do it in my sleep – only to find that Your desire was for me to face my past in a whole new light?
Perhaps the question is: Will I engage my fear? Will I allow You to refine my “gifts” and my “talents” and my “skills” so that they are transformed into tools in Your service, the ordinary now made holy by Your touch and Your life renewing breath?
As I allow You, Lord, to transform my fears into courage, the ordinariness of my doing into the holiness of His Being, transformation will begin in earnest and You will call others to this same transforming nature that comes from being with Jesus.
I choose to enter into this presence knowing it also comes with stretching and pain and times of doubt and uncertainty – waves and wind crashing around me and threatening to take me down to the depths. Still, I choose You, to respond to Your call to “Come!”
Here am I, Lord, may it be done unto me as You have spoken!
Reflect on Jesus saying these words to you in the midst of your present life situation (stormy or calm): “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Reflect on the place of fear and faith in your life. Notice how Jesus treats Peter in his strong faith and in his weak faith. What grace might Jesus wish to give you through this story?
I am so grateful for this picture of Jesus standing on the plane of my “ordinary” way of being in the world – my motherhood, my wifeliness, my studentness, my sisterhood, my leadership, my heart for healing the hurts of those around me. I need to regularly hear His words, “Take heart! The “I AM” is here! Do not be afraid!” This picture offers such a soothing balm to my soul! I am being stretched way beyond my comfort zone, asked to come out of the naïve way of being that has marked my life, and to walk on the waters of feeling the rocking and swaying of the waves, and holding my face to the force of gale and breathe in the winds that bring His Spirit to brokenness and the glory that is in each and every one of us. Am I fearful? You betcha! AND, I have been graced with a gift of faith that never ceases to astound me and catch me by surprise as He changes me down to my very core! He is holding my hand, and holding me up – even with the storm raging around me. Praise and hallelujah!