For several hours the twelve men in the boat had been rowing against the wind. It had only been a breeze when they started, but now, just past 3 am, it had become a howling gale that threatened to capsize the boat and crush the hopes and dreams of these maritime desperados. Most of them were fishermen. They knew the lake well, it was their home territory, and they knew this storm was not a normal weather pattern. It had caught them by surprise and now began to scare the bejabbers out of them. Few of them knew how to swim. Knowing that evil powers haunted the tombs on the lakeshore, they began to imagine that the storm was a demonic strategy that would soon blot them from the land of the living. Glancing around as they worked the oars, they began to imagine the gods of the underworld reaching out for them with from the icy darkness, eager to drag them beneath the waves.
Today, America and much of the world has entered a dark and stormy night. Waves of fear— magnified by government overreach and media hype— threaten to destroy the order of the most productive and prosperous period in human history. A conspiracy by the ancient lords of chaos seems to lie behind the daily headlines. Slavering demons who have hated the apple of God’s eye since the creation of Adam and Eve, seem to be aroused in their lust to plunge the world into another holocaust. Even the very elect might be deceived and drown beneath this flood of terror… if they are not diligent.
Into this wild storm, however, a spirit figure appears. It is hard to make it out, impossible to see it clearly moving above the waves, yet, yes— there is something there, moving toward us. Oh no! My God, it’s a demon! A ghost! A departed spirit of the dead! Terror driven screams rip from the chests of the men in the boat. Chaos has won the night. All is lost!
But something is heard above the cacophony. “Take courage! It is I! Be not afraid!” The men fall silent, not sure who has spoken. Did they hear clearly? Or did the howling wind betray their ears? It is then that one of them, operating on the smallest grain of faith, shouts with sudden inspiration, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
Now this is bizarre. Who would even think of such a thing in a moment like this? —Well, none other than Peter, the only man who ever lived and walked on water. The Lord said to him, “Come.” And he didn’t think it over. He jumped out of that boat and— “voila” walked on water. Yes, all could see, it can happen. For a split-second Jesus had a human idiot, completely out of his mind, willing to go someplace with him that was totally impossible!
Those of us riding on the storm can only shake our heads and be amazed at Peter.
I’m convinced this story is not in the Bible for the Peters of the world. I believe this story is told for the other men in the boat whose faith failed. They did not believe the Lord when he said, “Take courage. Be not afraid. Come!” The fear of the storm overwhelmed them in that moment and they remained frozen in their seats. Yes, I believe this story is told for them… and for you… and me. On our very best day, in a moment of total desperation or insanity, we may actually use our faith to walk on water for a split-second. Or maybe not.
I believe this story is in the Bible for us because of what happened next.
Peter’s faith failed. Peter became overwhelmed by the wind and the waves just like the rest of us riding in the boat. He suddenly saw the storm, he became disoriented, and he began to sink. The word “began” is important here because the Lord did not let him sink for long. The story says as he “began” to sink he cried out in fear. The Bible says “immediately” Jesus reached out and saved him.
That, my friends, is the point of this story. In the moment of fear, when your faith fails, it is not over between you and the Lord. He reaches out and rescues you.
We are all riders on this storm. There will be other storms. There will be even darker nights and more violent winds and waves to batter us. But we have a Savior who comes walking on the storm. We may be just riding in the boat, one or two of us my go crazy and try to walk on water— and God only knows why— nevertheless, we ALL have the same Lord who continues to say “Take courage. It is I. Be not afraid.” And if you want to walk on water… “Come on! Give it a shot.”