I thought I was finally living in the days of peace. After nearly three months of struggling with lack of financial security, God’s hand of blessing
was at last upon me. I was accepted for what seemed to be the perfect job for me: a full-time position as an English language editor. It was, as a
friend put it, “my kind of work”—I got paid regularly to use my grammar skills AND I got to do it at home on my own time (as long as I met my
deadlines), leaving me free to continue taking on part-time writing assignments and to work on my novel.
Webmaster’s Note: This is a post by Jacqueline So. The writings of whom has inspired many individuals in the same boat.
Life was good, but after a month of “Hallelujahs” and “Praise the Lord’s”, I looked around me and I saw the wind and the waves. And I started getting
For many of us, Matthew 14:22-33 is a very familiar passage. The disciples are out in the middle of a lake fighting a terrible storm, and Jesus meets them
at three in the morning walking right on the surface of the waves themselves. (And no wonder they thought they were seeing a ghost—3 am is traditionally
known as the witching hour). Bold Peter asks Jesus to prove His identity by allowing him to meet Him—on the water. Jesus does as Peter requests, and Peter
steps out onto the waves without sinking. Thrilled (most probably), he walks toward his Master, but then his eyes slip just a little. Suddenly, he notices
the crashing of the waves around his feet and the howling of the wind in his ears. Fear grips him, and he begins to sink. He calls out for salvation, and
immediately, Jesus reaches out to pull him back up. After He gently reprimands Peter for his doubt, they climb back into the boat—together.
Two millennia have passed since this event, but despite our handy Biblical reference, we haven’t been much of an improvement on Peter. In frightening times
when we don’t know what to do, we look to Jesus, who stands completely unperturbed in the midst of everything, and we ask Him to perform a miracle in our
lives to prove He’s there. And He says, “Alright, come.” Ecstatic, we climb out of the boat and onto the water—only to get distracted halfway through and
I felt like I was following the call of God for my life, and this job was the fruit of my labor of faith. But then, I started thinking things like,
“This job is so wonderful. I can’t lose it” and “I won’t go back to where I was before, and this job is my ticket out of financial despair.” When I
received negative feedback on my performance, the dread grew. I began pouring everything I had into my work, trying to do things ‘right’ because I knew
I had it in me. But despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t seem to perform at the level my superiors expected of me. The tension peaked, and I took
it out on anybody who had the misfortune of being anywhere near me. My thoughts revolved around the possibility of getting fired from my job and what
would be next for me after that. My head knew that it was God’s grace that had given me this position in the first place, but my hubris decided it was
up to me to keep it.
Prior to the water-walking, the Twelve had just come off the incredible spectacle of witnessing one of Jesus’s most noted miracles: the feeding of 5,000
men (plus women and children) on five loaves of bread and two fish. Perhaps that was what Peter was replaying in his mind when he made his audacious
request. When he took that first step out of the boat, some corner of his mind may have been thinking, “This is it! This is my chance to be a miracle!”
What caused Peter’s focus to falter? A wave tickling his toes? Or perhaps something in his own mind?
A recurring set of fears formed the waves, set to a different tune to form the howling winds. The fear of being a disappointment. The fear of being a
failure. The accusation that I wasn’t good at anything and would amount to nothing at the end of my days, and maybe I should just stop trying so hard.
They drowned out encouragement. And I was listening to these lies. While I was listening, I didn’t notice that I had stopped seeing the Lord in front
of me. I prayed hard that I could keep what I had, but my prayers were just words to a blurry figure. I held onto my perceived notion of control. It
was like I was begging to be sunk.
Reverend Edmund Chan pointed out an interesting fact in this passage: Peter called out to Jesus to save him. Why? Peter could swim—we know from John 21 :7
that he swam a hundred yards to meet the resurrected Jesus on the beach. He probably wasn’t far from the boat in this instance—even in the storm, he could
have gotten safely back on board by himself. An accomplished fisherman asking someone, even the Lord, to save him from drowning seems to be a strange move.
The answer to that question was this: Peter was not asking the Lord to save him from drowning. He was asking the Lord to save his faith.
The Lord’s timing is very interesting. On July 21, CCF declared the week of July 24-31 to be Prayer and Fasting Week. I’ve never been much for the
fasting thing—an ulcer typically prevents me from participating in anything that involves cutting back on meals. But then the gracious Lord impressed
upon me through the message that fasting is about taking the time spent on an activity (like eating) and consecrating it to Him. He still wanted me
back, despite my pride and lack of faith. The illusion of self-control broke, and in less than a minute, I made the crazy decision to fast from the
Internet, possibly the most time-consuming activity in my life at this point and around which I had built my daily schedule in recent months. I invited
one of my accountability partners to fast with me. We had both been having our own struggles recently—maybe this was what we both needed to get our
heads on straight again. Within the next five minutes, I had also decided to avoid reading and viewing secular media, such as books and TV, in my
downtime. I needed to give up ALL of my time to God so I could find Him again in the midst of the emotional rain lashing at my face. That meant both
free time and work time. I was not the Master of my schedule. He was.
Before Jesus performed the miracle of the feeding, his disciples were all about the schedule. Like impatient managers, they wanted to hustle Jesus along
like their personal celebrity, basically telling him, “OK—show’s over. It’s late, and we don’t want to be responsible for these guys so tell them to go
home.” That sounds familiar—it’s how we treat time with Jesus when we’re feeling like micromanagers (which is a lot of the time). We can imagine what would
have happened if Jesus agreed to that, because we see the result in many dissatisfied Christians today. When we wrestle control of time from Him, wonder
vanishes from our spiritual lives.
Not even a day later, how gracious Jesus was to a disciple who was realizing that he didn’t have what it took to stay up on the water. He reached out.
He didn’t wait for Peter to struggle to get to Him—He held his hand out right away and pulled a terrified, humbled, and lakewater-dampened Peter up.
I started my fast the following day, earlier than the prescribed period. As I write this, it has only been Day 3, but already, the Lord is doing His
work in my heart. With the words of David in Psalms 34, 32, and 139, He has begun to re-cultivate the importance of prayer, of Scripture, and of
walking through each day in His presence. Things are looking up again, but even if they did not—even if I should really lose my job—I have a God who
holds my future in His hands. My favourite reminder thus far comes from Psalm 34:10, which says that even “strong young lions go hungry, but those
who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.”
Matthew 14:22-33 concludes by telling us that Jesus and Peter climbed back into the boat together, and the wind stopped with the disciples praising God.
Did Peter regain the ability to walk on water? Did Jesus carry him? Scripture doesn’t say. But what we are told is that Peter was safely returned to the
boat, and his companions were rescued from the storm once Jesus was on board. There was no pretense of who was in charge, and the disciples worshiped and
praised God for it.
I don’t expect this to be the last time I sink as I try to walk on water. But the knowledge that the Almighty is right in front of me, waiting to reach
out and be the Savior of my dwindling faith, is a great comfort.