Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:25-29
If you have kids, or just love Disney movies, you have likely seen the movie, Tangled. There is this scene towards the beginning of the movie where Rapunzel is in her tower ready to escape. There is a sense of both fear and determination. She questions whether she should take this leap of faith, and then is scared to touch her feet to the grass. She was able to jump because she kept her eyes both on her goal and her guide.
I wonder if that is how Peter felt in the boat one stormy night when he and the rest of the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water. Scripture tells us the disciples were terrified, thinking that Jesus was a ghost. Every seafaring man knew a few fish stories, and it was common to have stories of ghosts at sea, much like the ones kids tell at summer camp! As he keeps looking, Peter realizes that it is Jesus and asks to go meet Him.
There’s Peter, on the side of the boat. Did he hesitate? Did he wonder if this was a good idea? Or did he just leap right out of the boat without a care? However he left, Peter did something extraordinary—he walked on water with Jesus. Then he did something epic—he sank because he stopped walking with Jesus.
As long as our focus remains laser-focused on Christ we are bolstered and filled with faith. In Him we can do all things, and nothing should bring us down because we are walking with our Lord. But all too often we break this blessed union through fear, pride, or self-centeredness. When we do we take our eyes off of Jesus and turn them elsewhere; to ourselves, our peers, our circumstances, those things can’t hold us up. Only Jesus can!
As we walk through this week, let’s keep our eyes firmly focused on our goal, living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus, and on our Guide, our beautiful and trustworthy Savior. A practice that can help us with this is Lectio Divina. The steps are simple: read, meditate, pray and contemplate. Go back through this account in Matthew 14:22-36 and slowly read it. Make note of things that stand out. Then meditate on the passage, thinking deeply. Pray through the passage a third time. Then finally contemplate the applications of this passage to your life on the final reading.
By Sheila Rennau