Peter was a fisherman. He was long accustomed to the sea and its moods, and surely this was not the first stormy night he’d spent on the water. Peter knew how to compensate for wind and waves in choppy weather. He also knew there was a point beyond which negotiation with a tempest was impossible. But Peter had no experience at all with a ghost, or a man, walking on the waves. Like the others in the boat, he was afraid. But unlike the others, he was willing to negotiate with this new situation. Peter decided to talk a walk on the wild side.
A fisherman who stays with his boat knows how to ride a wave. But with wind at his back and water under his feet, all Peter had for support was the solid view of Jesus. As his consciousness of the peril grew, his confidence in the Lord shrank. Many of us too have lost our faith in time of crisis. Our trust in God is steady within the boat, and up for grabs when life is less predictable. Peter scores points for risking a walk on the wild side, which the rest of the disciples were unwilling to do. An untested faith is worse than the ‘little faith’ Peter showed. God can always plant a mustard seed.
When has your faith been tested by stormy events? How did your faith endure?
Walk in faith, even if it means getting out of the safe boat you’ve been sailing lately. Take a risk: give charitably beyond what’s comfortable. Tell the truth even if it costs you. Pray through your doubts.
‘Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid’.
The Scripture (Matthew 14: 30-33 Jesus walks on water)
Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves, churning beneath him, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, ‘Master, save me!’ Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, ‘Faint-heart, what got into you?’ They both climbed into the boat, the disciples having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, ‘This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!’
At lifeboat stations there is usually a record of rescues and of the wonderful bravery of those who went out in the storms to help others. Sometimes, instead of a record of rescue, it simply says, ‘Standing by’. That is when the lifeboat was there and ready to help if needed. The crew were keeping a watch and were ready to come to the aid of a troubled vessel if called to do so. How often our God is like that … ‘standing by’ … always ready to help those who call upon God.
Julian of Norwich lived through stormy times. It was the time of the Black Death, the Peasant’s Revolt, the battles of Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt. She saw four kings sit on the throne of England. As a young woman, she had nearly died but she could write: He did not say, ‘You shall not be tempest-tossed; you shall not be work-weary; you shall not be distressed’. But he did say, ‘You shall not be overcome’.
Julian was deeply aware that God is‘ our maker, our lover and our keeper’. Amidst the storms of life, Julian was aware of the presence, the love and the power of God. We need to learn to put our hand into the hand of God who never leaves us or forsakes us.
God does not remain apart from you; God is involved.
You will enter into our struggle of heart and mind, O God; you will enable us to stand firm, and take the principled path. Our faith is strengthened; we are ready for new patterns of service. Thanks be to God!
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