Imagine sitting in a boat as the wind tosses it about. You are getting seasick, fearful that the boat might capsize, and are exhausted from struggling to keep your emotions in check. You are so stressed that you begin to lose hope.
In the middle of this fear and hopelessness, you see a man walking on the water toward you. You recognize him as Jesus. With each step on the water, he brings peace to the wind and the waves. Your hope restores as he gets closer and closer to your boat.
In your surge of hope, you call out the Jesus, “If you are willing, command me to come to you ON the water!”
You see a smile spread across Jesus’s face and he beckons you to come out onto the water. Without thinking, you get up in the water, climb over the side of your boat, and take your first step. It’s a hard surface you step on! Then, you commit and get all the way out of the boat.
Three steps in, you can feel the see sweeping against your face. The wind hasn’t died down where you are, the waves are still rising up to your knees, and then you realize that you are out of the boat in stormy weather. That’s when it happens, you start to feel the water rising around you.
First to your knees, then to your waist, as it moves up your torso the boldness, courage, and hope begins to drain from your emotion. Fear, worry, and stress begin to rush over you like the waves. You try to cry for help, but the wind and the waves are too loud.
The water is now up to your shoulders and no matter how hard you try to stay above the water you can’t. You reach for the boat, for Jesus, for whoever will help you, but there is nothing.
And then, you feel his arm grab yours. He pulls you up out of the water and into the boat. Gasping for air, you see that he is still standing on the water. The wind and the waves have died down. He is concerned for your well-being and appears to be frustrated too.
“Why did you doubt?” he asks softly.
You don’t know, but you are thankful that he pulled you out. Now, you see Jesus for who he is, the Son of God. Not only did he bring you to safety after he called you out of the water, but he strengthened you for the future. But that is not all.
Peter Walks on Water
While at a worship gathering a while back, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon me this story found in Matthew 14. Jesus and his disciples had just finished feeding five thousand plus people after a long day of preaching. At this point, Jesus insists that the disciples climb into a boat and head to the other side of the lake.
While the disciples were weary from a long day of preaching and seeing the miracle of the food, they didn’t even think of what Jesus was going to do. So, they did as they were told. And, Jesus went up into the hills above the lake to pray.
As the disciples go further into the lake, a storm comes up. Tired from their day, they fight the waves of the storm, but are starting to lose hope as the wind and the waves are too strong. Then, they see Jesus coming out to them on the water.
But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’ (Matthew 14:27, NLT)
With just those words, Peter’s courage fills to the max. Like the story above, he knows that if Jesus wants him to walk on water, it will happen. Without thinking, he proceeds:
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” (Matthew 14:28, NLT)
How often are we like this with Jesus? He does something miraculous in our lives, we face some kind of opposition, then we turn to Jesus and he brings hope back to us. Then, we get really excited out of that hope and ask for more.
So often, we can identify with Peter. He is probably one of the most relatable disciples because of his boldness, courage, and failures. Nevertheless, he steps into his boldness, and Jesus calls him out of the boat.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me Lord!” he shouted. (Matthew 14:29–30, NLT)
Again, Peter goes all in and then realizes that his gamble might have consequences once he is over the side of the boat. The wind and the waves, the opposition to this miracle, are strong. He becomes afraid and he begins to sink.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” (Matthew 14:31, NLT)
What Does This Mean For Us?
In this vision that I had, I experienced this story in the first person. I felt the worry, stress, fear, and hopelessness of being in a situation that did not seem to be under my control at all.
Then I saw Jesus, and he called me out of the boat. So, I went. Just like Peter, I began to sink, and then Jesus grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back on top of the water.
I believe this is meant for the church as a whole.
God is not done calling his people out of “the boat.” I believe he is calling us out of a boat of the church that has felt like a safe place for so long, even though it is on the verge of capsizing. The church is struggling to recover after Covid-19 restrictions, muddled political views and experiences, and the fact that we are forced to see the world differently now.
In our world today, we are hearing more stories of abuse by pastors and leaders than ever before. These abuses come in so many forms from abuse of power to sexual abuse and so much more. The church is not full of abusive people, but abuse can no longer hide in the church today.
When things are stressful, filled with fear, and beginning to feel hopeless we see Jesus on the horizon. We call out to him, and he beckons us out of the water. Many people have started to step out of the boat and are beginning to feel that the waves are too strong.
But, Jesus is right there to pull you up out of the water. Close your eyes and feel his grip on your arm pulling you out of the water. Feel his strength. See his face. And listen to his words.
“Why did you doubt me?”
He doesn’t say this to make you feel ashamed. He wants you to go deeper into why the world started to weigh you down. These are not words of condemnation. The question is asked because he wants you to know that even though things seem hopeless or overwhelming, he is still here. And we can trust him when he calls us out of the boat.
What has Jesus called you out of the boat for in your life? Have you started sinking?
If so, take hold of his hand and feel him pull you out of the water. Know that he is there, every single time you feel this way. Because what he has called you into is going to change your life and the life of those around you.
Want to cultivate a regular Bible reading habit? Check out these prayer and meditation guides that will help you read through books of the Bible!