There is a well-known story about Peter trying to join Jesus out on the water of the Sea of Galilee. (see Matthew 14:22-33).
Recently I noticed something in that story that I never saw before.
Whose idea it was for Peter to walk on water in the first place?
Jesus never said a word about walking on water. He just showed up in the middle of the night, a ghost gliding along the top of the water scaring everyone in the boat half to death. Walking on water was not a prerequisite for discipleship. It was never a test of faith that all were required to do at some point to qualify as true followers of Christ.
It was nothing more than a crazy idea Peter got into his head that he wanted to try as soon as he found out that the ghost they thought they saw out there was really Jesus. And Jesus said, “Sure, come on. “
And then we get all upset at Peter for becoming afraid when he saw the storm and started to sink. How many times have we heard Peter being rebuked for his lack of faith?
Lack of faith? What about all the other guys in the boat who just sat there in fear?
What about all the other guys who stayed in the boat because that’s what boats are supposed to do—keep you on top of the water instead of sinking down in it? It didn’t take any faith to stay in the boat.
You’ve got to love Peter. While everyone’s knees were knocking, Peter looked out at this supposed ghost walking on the water and asked, “Is that you. Lord? Okay. Here’s an idea. If you invite me, I bet I could join you out there… Okay… here I come!”
The only thing that separates the people who do things from the people who wish they could do things and don’t is the fact that the people who do things… DO THEM. They’re crazy enough to try. Everyone else just stays in the boat.
People who do things are willing to jump out of the boat and make themselves vulnerable. They also get these crazy ideas in their heads that they can do what Jesus does.
If you’re waiting to get what you need first before you go, you will never get it. Faith is a travelling kind of thing. You get it as you go. It comes when you need it, not one second before.
The hand of Jesus comes when you are sinking desperately in the storm and reaching for it. The hand does not help you politely out of the boat. It doesn’t even push you out into the water. You have to have the idea and step out on your own.
And then would you believe what Jesus said to Peter: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Now that seems unfair doesn’t it.
Why didn’t Jesus say that to the other guys? Because Jesus puts a higher requirement of faith upon those who choose to step into it. It may not seem fair, but God meets us on the level of our attempts and keeps challenging us further.
So maybe, just maybe we need to abandon ship. Jump out of the boat. Not so much because it may be sinking in the storm, but because we want to go where Jesus is – out there on the open water.
Sure we may sink and stumble a while. We may feel like we are lost and sinking. But with that step of faith we will feel the arms of Jesus lifting us up and setting us where we need to be. And along the way we just might have something to offer others.