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 andrwalked 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.”
About a month ago now, during one of our classes at U.M.B.I. we talked about Matthew 14:22-33 (quoted above). Afterwards, we were encouraged to ask the Lord if there was anything we hadn’t covered in the class that He wanted to show us…and this is what I felt like He was further speaking to me…and I wanted to share it with you, in hopes that you would be encouraged in some way by it, because it was actually really helpful for me, and God kept brining many of these things back to mind over the next few weeks, and they helped me to keep my eyes fixed on the Lord (and hopefully it makes sense, because I’m simply copying from my journal, which is slightly disjointed at times):
The disciples were in the boat, in the middle of a storm which they had been battling for hours (the 4th watch of the night would have been between 3 and 6am). Had the water been calm, they might have been fast asleep (or most of them), and missed seeing Jesus walking on the water; they would have missed seeing His power displayed. But as it was, they would have been up as the wind and waves raged on the sea, and they all saw Jesus as He walked on the water toward them. They were probably pretty worn out, but it seems to me that Jesus used the storm to keep them alert so that they would see His glory, and see that He is truly Lord of all creation, and so, increase their faith and trust in Him.
In the same way, the Lord seems to use trials in our lives to keep us alert, so that we don’t become complacent or spiritually drowsy, and that He can come to us in the midst of them, in even the most impossible ways, and reveal to us His glory, and to cause us to worship Him in truth. And we cannot doubt when we see God coming towards us – the wind and the waves not even causing Him a second thought. And He walks upon them with no”safety net” to fall back on, as WE cling to the sides of our boat with white knuckles, not realizing that, if we truly trusted God, we would leave our boats, and leave there the fear of them being smashed to bits, and we would be even more safe than if we were still in a boat; if we only had the faith to walk by Jesus’ side, and not doubt that He would uphold us, and do mighty things. And we realize we have nothing at all to fear when He is near us, for the largest waves and the most blinding storms all are merely tools in His hand, with no power to crush us apart from His command…for, without a word, when all His plans for us and our growth and His glory are accomplished, the storm will cease in an instant, with no trace remaining, and the only things to remind us that it happened will be the stories of Christ’s faithfulness and grace – His coming to us in the midst of it -, and we will have Christ Himself in the boat beside us. Though in the midst of the storm Christ may seem distant or like a ghost; just an illusion, when it is over, we will find that He is closer to us than when the storm began.
I was just reading in Psalm 11:5 that, “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”
Just because we are in a “storm” doesn’t mean that we’ve done something wrong, or that we should be filled with fear. On the contrary, if we are in a storm, it is likely that God is doing something wonderful. Jesus directed His disciples out to the sea before Him so He could show Himself mighty to them. If your life is going great, and you’re comfortable, with everything going your way…you may have more cause to be concerned. As Psalm 10 says, the Lord lets the wicked prosper in their earthly pursuits and earthly treasure…but the Lord chastens and tests those He loves, and refines them through the fire. If by trials and storms I may be kept alert for His service, if by them I may be kept from ever becoming complacent or inward focused or full of spiritual pride again, if by them I may be drawn nearer to Christ, then I would welcome them, and pray that He would strengthen me to remain steadfastly fixed on Him, rejoicing through whatever comes.
By His strength may we come forth as gold.