Author: Ian Harris
As a family, we’d take trips to the beach most summers. My brother and I would always head for the water right away so we could try and body surf on the waves if they were big enough. I learned two important things each time we tried, I’m a horrible surfer, and water is extremely powerful. Even on a calm day the waves can suck you under and throw you around like a rag doll, and sudden storms are an entirely different animal. When a storm rolls in you get chills as the temperature steadily drops, water and sand get blown in your face as the wind picks up, and the waves that were already menacing come crashing even more ferociously.
Peter and the apostles were very familiar with this reality and knew how quickly water can become one of the most dangerous forces in nature. They had every right to be afraid as they were being tossed about miles from shore. It is through this fear that Jesus reveals more of himself to the apostles, and to us. We read that in the fourth watch of the night (between 3am – 6am) the apostles see Jesus walking on the stormy sea to their boat. With Jesus being all powerful I feel like He could have just as easily flown over to them, or appeared on the boat, or even be carried by angels. So why walk? I believe Jesus was not simply trying flex his God-ness and do some cool party trick to impress Peter and the boys. I believe that Christ chose to walk on the water to demonstrate his power over our fears. By walking on the water Jesus is showing that as powerful and mighty as the storm may be even it submits to him. The very water that can tear ships apart and drown men is the same water He walks on.
You may not be afraid of a storm on the open sea, but I’m sure you still have fears. You probably have some surface level fears like spiders or clowns, but I doubt those are truly what we are deeply afraid of. Our deep fears may be something like loneliness, losing a loved one, not having enough money to get by, or a fear of being let down. Whatever they are, know that Christ has conquered them and that you don’t have to bear them alone. The same way Christ walks on the water that threatened the apostle’s peace of mind He walks over what distresses us so that he can bring us into his arms. Also notice that Jesus did not calm the storm at first. I think that means that Jesus is not simply going to take away what we are afraid of. If he simply took it away, then we would not be able to later look back on it and see how he came into that place and totally transformed it. Ask God to help you to know deep within your heart that He is stronger than anything we are afraid of and that he wants to come into that dark place and lead us toward something beautiful.
Switching topics, I want you to look at verses 30 and 31 in the 14th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. We see Peter walking on the water towards Jesus and he begins to get scared. His faith in Jesus’ power is shaken and Peter begins to sink. Instantly, he realizes his fault and cries out “Lord, save me!” Pay very close attention to how Jesus responds. It is not “then Jesus rushed over to him”, it is not “Jesus waited for Peter to sink for a second to teach him a lesson”, it is not “then Jesus stopped Peter from sinking further.” No, the very next line is “Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand”. Immediately. Mere moments after Peter started sinking because of his weakened faith Jesus is reaching out his hand to him yet again.
God so deeply desires to save us with this same immediacy. He sees how much sin hurts us, he sees how our heart yearns for something greater than the comfort, approval, and recognition we try to satisfy it with. He sees these things that make us unhappy and he wants to pick us back up right away, because he knows were not meant for them. We have to be the ones to ask for help. God loves us so much that he won’t infringe on that free will, which is why we must be the ones to say “Lord, save me!” No matter where you are right now you don’t have to fall into the lie that it is too much for Jesus to reach you. He reached out to Peter immediately, which seems to imply that he was already there. He is already here for us too. Take some time this week to think about the reality that God wants you to ask for his help right here and right now.
St. Peter, Pray for us!