Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There's a story which is familiar to most, if not all of us. The story of Jesus walking on water, Peter walking on water, sinking. Jesus grabs his hand, pulls him to his feet, and calms the storm. You could probably tell somebody that story in your sleep. And yet, as familiar as it is, there is more to it than just a story. Read it again.
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but 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; it is I. 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." (Matthew 14:22-33, ESV)


O.K., so what? Look beyond the simple (or not-so-simple) events of people walking on water. (Like that's not cool enough, right?) Look at this not from your point of view, but from Peter's. Here we go.

You go out in a boat with 12 of your best friends. Bear in mind, you're all out on this boat because Jesus just fed 5,000 men, not to mention the women and kids, from five hunks of bread and two fish. So you go out in a boat, and Jesus goes up on the mountain to pray (he seems to do that a lot, eh?) So you twelve guys are chillin' out in the boat, while it gets further and further from the mountain. At 0-dark-hundred hours, one of the other 11 guys on the boat screams like mad. You're wide awake now, and you stare at him. He's pointing out on the sea. you follow his finger, and you start to freak out, too. There's a body, upright, floating. "A ghost!" somebody shouts. Half a minute, it's not floating. It's walking. Still, is there any rule that says ghosts have to hover? The ghost, or whatever it is, starts talking. "Take heart; it is I." (Trust Jesus to speak properly!) "Do not be afraid." O.K., so it sounds like Jesus, it looks sort of like him, but... well, you sort of let your imagination run away with you. It is, after all, the fourth watch. So, confident macho guy that you are, you start talking to the ghost. "Hey, out there? Yeah, this is Simon, also known as Cephas or Peter. Are you Jesus? You look sorta like him. Tell you what; if you're Jesus, tell me to walk on the water." After all, you suppose, only Jesus can actually make people walk on water right?

The ghost, or Jesus, says one word. "Come."

Your stomach starts churning. Remember, you're way out here because the wind pushed you out here. Wind plus water equals really, really big waves. You'd probably chicken out, except that the other 11 guys in the boat are now staring at you, waiting for you. You take a deep breath, and stick your foot over the edge of the boat. You hit something solid. Looking down... it's water. That's really weird. The other foot now. Hits water, and doesn't go through. You grin. You thought Jesus was pretty cool, even the Messiah, but that he could make people walk on water? Hey! You start walking to Jesus (yeah, it's he.) All of a sudden, you hear a roaring sound. You look towards the vast, open sea. Um, is that a wave? Yeah, that's a wave all right. A really, really big honkin' wave. And it's coming for you. Funny thing about waves, is they keep getting bigger. You stop walking, frozen in your tracks. Your feet get wet. Wet? Looking down, you see that your feet are now under the water. The sea is dragging you down. "Great," you think. "I'm walking across the water, now I'm sinking. Even if I manage to keep my head above water long enough to get back to the boat, that wave's coming. I'm not getting out of this one, am I?" You look back up, and see Jesus, standing on top of the water in front of you. He's watching you, and appears to be waiting for something. Nuh-uh. No way are you asking him for help; the guys are watching! Talk about humiliation. But you're still going dow, down, and the wave is getting bigger and closer. Finally, you start screaming. "Lord, save me!" Jesus, as though he was waiting for this, reaches down and pulls you up. Your feet are back on top of the water again, though your legs and tunic are completely soaked. Jesus looks you in the eye, and says, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" You walk back to the boat with him, still eyeing the massive wave. The eleven guys see it, too, and are a little too worried to poke fun at you right now. You climb into the boat, legs shaking, used to the water as you are. Jesus gets back in the boat, and the wind stops blowing. The wave rolls gently past, and the boat does little more than bob in the water.


Well, that was an interesting second-person narrative, but so what? Here's the big thing that sticks out of this passage. Look again at Jesus' response to Peter when he pulled him out of the water. It wasn't, "Yeah, that hydrogen bonding was pretty cool, wasn't it?" or "Gotta watch out for those waves, Pete." No. He said, "O you of little faith." Whoa, little faith? Half a minute! Didn't Peter just literally walk on water for Jesus, because Jesus said to walk? Yes, he did. But what happened once he got on the water? He saw the wind, and was afraid. He didn't trust Jesus to keep him abouve the water. He was more convinced of the power of nature than the power of the One who created nature.

So, what's the sea onto which God has called you? Obviously, not many of us will literally walk on water (although that would be fun....) But Christ has called us to do things that would be impossible without His grace. School, obedience, work, friendships, plays, being kind to our siblings, chores... the list goes on. But, all too often, we can be so self-reliant. "I can't get this projuect done; it's too hard!" "You know what? Forget it. My sister is just so obnoxious sometimes. No way I can be kind to her right now." "Wash the dishes? Again? I cannot keep this up!" You're right. You can't get the project done, you can't be nice to your sister, and you can't wash the dishes one more time. You weren't called to do this on your own. You were given the power of Christ for a reason. He's standing there, looking at you, waiting for you to ask Him. And when you ask, I promise (more significantly, He promises) that He will pull you to your feet, and help you to the boat.


Allie said...

Wow Elizabeth! That was sooo good!
I loved that narrative and what u said afterwards was awesome! God is awesome! I never thought of that story like this!
Thanks :)

Kirstin Rose said...

Cool! Thanks for writing that!

pb-32 said...

interesting, I was just reading that story the other day

Samuel said...

Thanks for posting! and splendid job telling the story vividly

::Sophie:: said...

Wow. This is really great!
I'm going through a trial in my life where I don't think that I can do things. I've got to finish Algebra II, but then I have all these other classes that I'm going to take next year, and I'm getting all stressed out just thinking about the homework load that isn't even here yet. And I'm always thinking that I can't do it. But with God I can get through everything. I'm just too busy to cry out, or I'm trying to finish this or that and then I say that I'll cry out to Him, but then I just think, "I need to be crying out every day. I need to be with him every day. Not just when something really hard is going on, but every day when I wake up."

Thank you Elizabeth for posting this! You really re-told the story in a way that I would never think of!

Jenna said...

Wow, Elizabeth! This post was amazing! Thank you so much for telling it this way :)

Kt said...

Thank you so much Elizabeth! I'd never thought of it that way before!

daniel.garay. said...

zat vas berry deeeeeep