Getting Out of the Boat

I have been doing a bit of thinking lately on the biblical account of Peter’s little stroll across the water. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s not long. You can read it here.

The reason I’ve been thinking of it is that there are 13 people involved in this story, so there are lots of different angles to look at. Each probably had their own thoughts before, during and after it was all said and done. For the sake of simplicity, I just want to focus on a few keys that have been playing over and over in my head.

First, the boat load of disciples is tooling out in the water as Jesus commanded. Here is a bunch of guys who have seen some pretty amazing things. So when Jesus says, “get in the boat and I’ll meet you out there”, I have to wonder what they expected. This was well before the invention of the jet ski. After some time, suddenly they see a figure out walking across the water toward them. I find their response to be somewhat amusing. They were quicker to believe it was a ghost than the Son of God. Of course, when reading this, we probably think “what a bunch of dorks!” But I have to wonder what I would have thought if I was out there. I’m not so sure I would have reacted any better.

Then Jesus uttered the greatest words any one of us could ever hope to hear in times of confusion and commotion; “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.

Again, I’d like to think I would be one who would have reacted, “Hey Lord! Great to see you! How’s the water?” But Peter reacted by questioning the truth of Jesus’ words.

“Lord, if it’s you…”

IF? Maybe you were expecting…???

But Jesus showed more restraint than I would have. He simply told Peter to come.

Now I try to imagine what the other 11 disciples were thinking and saying to Peter at this point.

Hey, better you than me!”
“Don’t forget your water wings!”
“I hope Jesus doesn’t call me! I can’t swim!”
“I just ate less than a half our ago.”

Peter then obeyed, got out of the boat, and began shuffling across the water toward Jesus. But then he noticed the wind, began to doubt, then glug, glug, glug.

Again, I wonder what the disciples were doing at this point. Were they laughing at Peter for failing? Were they envious? Did they admire him? I figure there was probably a lot of each going on.

The reason I have been thinking of this story is because I feel much like Peter must have. No, my situation isn’t as impossible, scientifically. But getting out of the relative safety of the boat is scary, whether it’s a literal boat on the water, or your comfort zone of what is safe and familiar to you.

But then those words. Those wonderful, empowering, comforting words…

Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.

In the three and a half months that I have been out of my boat, there have been many, many moments when I took my focus off of God and put it on the wind and the waves. I take it as a real compliment, as Peter must have, that God called me to get out of my boat to test and reward my faith as I look squarely at Him and step into a great unknown. I am so thankful I didn’t respond as the other 11 who were left to watch someone else trust and obey. I am not one who can just watch. I need to be the one out there doing it.

I am so grateful God is alive and well in my life, and each day is another day in “boot camp” where I go through challenges which only serve to make me stronger, better, and to have a greater faith and trust. Each day, my water walking brings me another step further from what I’ve been conditioned to think as being safe and comfortable, and one step closer to Him and His reward.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without any doubts, for the one who has doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. Such a person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he undertakes.

James 1:2-8

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