(Photo by Natalie Reed)
Walk on Water
By Kyle Jane Heskett
“When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were on the boat worshipped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’”
– Matthew 14: 26-33 NIV
Peter was full of faith. He was doing the unimaginable, going against the natural. He stepped out of the boat and walked on water. And just as fast, he began to sink. He doubted and became consumed by the outside world, the wind and the waves, and was afraid.
Has God ever called you to do something scary, something that requires trust in Him and total abandonment of your own understanding? To be honest, I think He calls us to this each and every day. Sometimes we succeed, stepping out of the boat so to speak. But often times, we get distracted by what everyone else is doing. We are afraid what others will think, so we drown. Matthew 14:26-33 speaks volumes as to the type of relationship we are to have with Jesus. It is one of trust, surrender, and risk. I look at this passage, and I wonder if I am brave enough to step out of my comfort zone, onto the sea, and do what He is calling me to do.
This passage has guided my Church recently, as we have been going through a series called “Jesus Risk Challenge.” For the past several weeks, our relationship with God and others has been tested. We believe God calls us to step out of the norm so we can further His kingdom. Each week, our Church has a new challenge to reach out to those around us. What started as simply taking notice of someone we wouldn’t normally take notice of, has led to praying for strangers, speaking about our experiences with Christ, and even embracing those embarrassing situations that often discourage us from acting in faith. To encourage each other, members of our church have been sharing their testimonies, ones of triumph and failure. We even give a small gift to whoever has the most awkward encounter that week because we recognize that the times when we feel like our efforts may fail, God still sees them as victories of faith.
This series has added a whole new meaning to my relationship with Jesus and with others. I never looked at this passage in Matthew with the same lens as I do now. I now see Jesus inviting me to walk on water with Him. I can feel the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart each and every day to do something I normally would not. Sometimes it is stopping to talk with a homeless woman, to do something nice out of the blue for a co-worker, or to ask a non-believer whether or not I can pray for them right there with something they are struggling with. Other times, my walking on water can look like making a huge financial decision with my husband, deciding where to move, or whether or not to quit my job. I’m not afraid of “failure” anymore. If my out-of-the-blue gift isn’t well received or if a person says no to prayer, or if it turns out to be harder than I thought to adjust to a major decision I make, that is OK. I just know I don’t want to stay in the boat anymore. My relationship and trust in the Lord grows deeper with every step forward I take. My joy for life grows deeper as well.
The truth is, I don’t think God calls us to stay in our comfort zones all the time. I think He is constantly inviting us to do something that may seem abnormal because He wants us to experience more of His freedom. It is a freedom from the restraints that the world may put on how we should act or look, what we should buy, or where we should live. I invite you to ask God what ways you are being invited to step off the boat and walk with Him.