"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." ~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stepping Onto the Water

Matthew 14: 25-31 reads:

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 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?" (NIV)

I am sure we are all familiar with this passage from the Bible. This may be perhaps one of the most popular scriptures in which faith and trust in Christ is demonstrated. It also demonstrates the magnitude of power that Jesus holds, as He performs an act that no other living organism has, which is walking on water.

Many times in our lives, we are like the disciples in this very situation. Something strange, unusual, and maybe even unidentifiable enters into our lives, and we panic because we are fearful. And, like the disciples, at times we are unable to recognize Christ when He is in the midst of our situation, and He must make Himself plain before us just like He had to do for Peter. We may hear His voice, recognize it, and see Him working, but we still pray and ask for a sign that it is Him. For Peter, walking on the water would cure His curiosity that Christ was exactly who He said He was.

When Peter first stepped onto the water, his eyes were fixed on Christ. When we first begin something new, our eyes are too. We recognize that we need Christ to guide us and help us get stable and steady. I can just picture Peter cautiously stepping onto the water, ensuring that he was carefully following Jesus' instructions. But, somewhere in Peter's steps, he grew confident enough to think that he no longer had to focus his eyes forward on Jesus. He began to look at the wind, and his focus was faced toward it. This is when Peter began to sink.

You see, when we take our eyes off of Christ, we too begin to sink! We should always stay in the position Peter was in when he first stepped onto the water; eyes focused forward on Christ. Peter lost the power to stay above water, and began to sink. However, Peter was a smart man. He recognized that he could not save himself from drowning; only Christ could. In an instant, Peter cried out for Jesus, who instantly saved him. We should be like Peter and cry out immediately when we feel ourselves sinking, even if it is our own fault. (It was Peter's fault that he was sinking.)

Jesus is available to save us from sinking. I notice that the flesh side of me wants to solve issues myself. I usually end up with my whole body submerged in water before I cry out to Christ for help. Christ is our lifesaver. He is ready and waiting for us to cry out to Him. We are expected to lean and rely on our Lord for help to keep from sinking. I think about how many times I could have saved myself heartache and pain if only I would have cried out to Christ when I first began to feel the water rising in my life. However, it is awesome to know that God can use those sinking times to teach us lessons that help us grow closer to Him.

Jesus ends this situation asking Peter why he doubted him. I don't think Jesus was asking why did he doubt that he could walk on the water, but why did he doubt who He was when He showed up in the first place. Why do we doubt the presence of Christ? Is it fear? Is it unbelief? Or, is it just the fact that we are so distant from Him at times in our lives that we are unable to recognize who He really is when He reveals Himself to us? Whatever the reason, I am so grateful that Christ knows what it takes for me to recognize who He is each and every time. Wether in quicksand or water, He is always my lifesaver!

Spiritual Reflections

1. In what ways are you like Peter?

2. Has there ever been a time in your life when you were unable to recognize Christ's presence? What did you do? Why were you so doubtful that it was Christ working in your life?

3. What are some things that distract us from being able to recognize Christ in our "sinking" times?

4. What can you do to keep from sinking in future situations and circumstances?