I remember one day when I was a lifeguard. The pool was teeming with children ages 5 through 12 on a hot,summer afternoon. Scanning the pool for troubled swimmers was exhausting for us. The other lifeguard on duty had a small situation requiring his attention, so I helped scan his area close to mine. I noticed a boy about 8 or 9 years old popping up or down in the water, a place where kids tend to get in a bit deep without realizing it. He seemed to be playing, but I came down from my chair to check it out anyway as I continued scanning. He wasn't playing! He must have thought he could put his feet down on the bottom of the pool. He couldn't. He was unable to swim to the pool edge yet. Quickly I alerted the other guard with my whistle, heading for the rescue,so the other lifeguard could take over the pool scan. As I tweeted, I went down on the pool deck reaching my rescue tube out to the boy. Oddly, he turned away from me when I yelled, "Grab it!" So, I bumped him with the tube and yelled again. This time, he instinctively grabbed what touched him. I pulled him to the safety of the pool wall. His once wide eyes looked relieved. "I'm so tired!", he gasped. "Thank you!" I think we may be more like that boy than we care to admit.
In Matthew 14:22-33 Jesus told his disciples to get into a boat after He sent a large group of people home from one of His teaching sessions. They were out to sea while He spent time in prayer alone on a mountain. As often happens at sea, a storm began to churn the waters with the boat being tossed about by the waves. Jesus decided to join them on the boat, in the middle of the night. In a most unconventional manner. He walked out across the water toward the boat! No, He didn't step across on rocks or the backs of fish. He walked on water! That must have been some amazing cohesion of water molecules! His poor disciples were confused, frightened that a ghost must be coming out to get them. I think they were subject to someone's terrifying tales of ghosts around the campfire when they were kids. But Jesus assures them it's just Him, "It's okay, guys. Just me. Your're fine."
Impetuous Peter tossed caution to the wind. He asked Jesus if he could walk out onto the water with Him! Oh, my! Only Peter. He wanted to try it out. So, Jesus said, "Yah, sure Peter. Come on out!" So he did.
I think most people are used to being the "onlooker" as they read this passage. I know that's the perspective I've taken before. But one picture that appeared in my news feed on Facebook caught my attention, changing my whole perspective. Have you ever thought of what things looked like from Peter's perspective? That was exactly what this picture from GoodSalt.com did for me. Back to the passage.
Peter was fine as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. But suddenly, the realization of the stormy waves distracted him. When he looked down, the cohesion of water molecules must have taken a drastic turn. He began to sink. Why would Peter, a former fisherman of Simon Peter's Fishing Company, not think about storms on the water? Certainly he saw shipwrecks claim the lives of countless other fishermen. What possessed him to think he could walk on water, too? Faith. Simple faith. Before they launched out into the boat, he watched Jesus take a small lunch of bread and fish that a little boy brought with him to feed 5,000 people, with food left over. It wasn't a crumb and a scale for each person. It was a meal for each one. Jesus has McDonalds beat bad! Peter was the first to recognize that Jesus was who He said He was. Peter trusted that if Jesus said he could walk on water, he could. The problem came in with the distraction of the waves. Flashbacks of terrifying moments may have crowded out his faith. Down into the churning waters he went. A hand reached down to pull him up out of the water like I did for a distressed little boy with the rescue tube.
I've been like Peter a number of times. How about you? Are you looking up at the soles of Jesus' feet through murky, stormy waters? Do you reach to Him in your trouble? Are you looking down into the murky depths of despair, unaware of His helping hand reaching down? Or are you like the boy in distress, turning the opposite direction from Jesus, our Lifeguard who walks on water? Do you look to everyone and everything else disoriented by the waves of stressful situations in our lives?
May God bless you!
For more great Bible pictures, go to GoodSalt.com.