The story begins on the sea of Galilee. It is recorded in three of the four gospels: John 6:16-21; Mark 6:45-52; Matthew 14:22-33. The disciples were in a little boat when: “…a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” (Matthew 14:24 NLT). When this had happened before, Jesus simply rebuked the wind and the waves: “Silence! Be still!” (Mark 4:39 NLT). But Jesus wasn’t in the boat this time, and the disciples had to once again face a terrible storm, without Jesus!
The Bible doesn’t actually say they were afraid this time. It simply says that they were, “…in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves.” (Mark 6:48 NLT). They learned their lesson from the former time. Instead of cowering in fear, they were simply doing everything in their power to stay ahead of the storm!
And the result?
Jesus came to … them! “About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.” (Matthew 14:28 NLT).
That’s what Jesus does when we take a step in faith, when we push aside our fear and do everything in our power to survive our storms of life: He comes … to us!
Interestingly, the gospel of Mark records a tiny detail overlooked by the other two gospel records: “He intended to go past them…” (Mark 6:48B)
Wait. Why would Jesus walk out to them, only to pass them by? Where’s the comfort in that?
I used to try to encourage my kids to be independent in solving their problems. Many times, however, I would hover in the background, always there in case they needed me. Why? Because the kids needed to learn that if someone is always there to rescue us, we will never learn how to fight the battles! Was this why Jesus had intended to pass them by? Just like me with my kids, was Jesus simply “checking up” on them, letting them know He was there if they needed Him?
Interestingly, the disciples didn’t immediately recognize HIm. All three gospels record: “When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified.” (Matthew 14:26 NLT See also John 6:19; Mark 6:49) In fact, they thought He was a ghost!
Our loving Jesus sensed their fear and called out to them, but it was still a tough sell for those poor disciples, battered and exhausted by the storm. Can we blame Peter? “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” (Matthew 14:28 NLT)?
Jesus will never deny anyone who wants to come to Him, and He will do the miraculous for us to reach Him! “Yes, come…” (vs. 29a NLT).
Here is where the story gets very interesting: Peter did get out of the boat. He did start walking, like Jesus, on top of the waves; But the waves didn’t stop roaring and the wind didn’t stop blowing!
Wait a minute. Peter is trying hard to take that step in faith! He’s even gotten out of the boat! Yet the storm continues! Isn’t the moment we take the step in faith when the storm should stop?
Unfortunately for Peter, the storm caught and held his attention: “But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.” (Matthew 14:30a NLT)
Before we start faulting Peter, let’s put ourselves in his shoes! Haven’t we all been there? We’ve tried to take that step in faith, but the storms of life continue around us? And despite the fact that we’ve stepped out of the proverbial boat, we begin to sink?
Herein lies our problem, and Peter’s as well! When we take a step in faith, we can’t expect the storms to stop! Our job is to simply fix our eyes on Jesus as we navigate them! “‘Save me, Lord!’ [Peter] shouted.” (Matthew 14:30b NLT), and “Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.” (Matthew 14:31a NLT)
That’s our Jesus! We may stumble and fall, but He is always there to pick us up the moment we reach out to Him!
These situations do call for a mild rebuke, however: “’You have so little faith,’ Jesus said. ‘Why did you doubt me?’” (Matthew 14:31b NLT).
Yes, we all deserve the rebuke. How many miracles has our Lord performed around us and throughout history? Plenty for our faith to be rock-solid. Therefore, while always there to pick us up when we fall, Jesus is also there to lovingly show us the better way: “Why did you doubt me?”
I have a storm in my life right now. My husband has an eye problem. We prayed for healing, and from the moment the eye doctor put drops in his eyes to dilate his pupils, he didn’t have any further eye problems for the rest of the day. We declared him healed in the power of Jesus!
The winds and waves continued to storm around us, however. The next morning, he began experiencing mild issues again. Wait! How can this be! God healed his eyes! God’s healing is permanent! Why …
That’s when God gave me this message. I realized that our step out in faith didn’t mean the wind and waves of eye problems would just disappear. What it meant is that the eyes were healed, whether we saw it in the natural or not! Our job is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, despite the wind and the waves!
That second day, he only had a couple mild episodes of a problem that had been happening significantly all day long. The following day, only one episode. Will he have other episodes? I don’t know. But I know one thing: our job is to keep our eyes on Jesus, no matter how heavy the storm!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart
Author, Moderator, Acting Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries