Halloween is right around the corner. Wether you are a fan of this holiday or not, it gets us all thinking about things that might scare us. We see many decorations around that can bring frightful thoughts into our minds. 18 years ago, my husband and I were blessed with a beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby girl. Besides her perfection, one other characteristic immediately stood out about her. We realized from day one in the hospital than many normal noises scared our baby. When doors closed or at any abrupt sound, her body would jump. We were concerned about this, but the Dr said it was normal, some babies just had a disposition for this and it was nothing to worry about. Halloween was a particularly scary time for her as she went around the neighborhood and saw the things she was not used to seeing. Ghosts, freaky masks, and monsters really freaked her out. This fear is not something that she has not fully grown out of. Thankfully, as she has gotten older we can discuss these things and guide her through the fearful times.
Speaking of things we are not used to seeing that might scare us…
Matthew 14:22-33 describes what the disciples experience when they are in their boat, rowing to the other side of the lake. This was not a “quick trip”. They had been rowing all night and it had been storming the entire time they were in the boat. After several hours of enduring the wind and waves while being pelted with rain, they see something walking on the water and freak out assuming that it is a ghost. Then this “ghost” speaks to them and they recognize a familiar voice! They realize it is the Lord! Peter than says, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you across the water.” The Lord takes him up on it. “Come!” he says. So Peter steps out of the boat and actually starts to walk on the water! As Peter gets out of the boat, the wind and waves do not stop, it is still storming all around them. The more steps that Peter actually takes, the more he realizes the strong winds and waves all around him and fear begins to sink in and he begins to sink. As he sinks, he cries out, “Lord save me!” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and caught Peter. But then, Jesus says to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus does not say that Peter has no faith. After all, he had more faith than the other eleven, at least he stepped out of the boat!
I think we can relate to this story because we can so easily see ourselves in it. We often begin a journey with excitement and encouragement from others. Then the harsh reality of the everyday grind set in. Next come trials and unexpected detours. When things lose their new luster and excitement, sometimes we backtrack or even abandon the journey entirely.
“Little” faith means immature faith. For our faith to be mature, it must be used and and mixed with courage. We can only develop courage in the face of danger. If there is no danger, no threat, no trial, then there is no possibility of gaining courage. Mature faith means believing more in what you can’t see than in the terrifying things you can see. It means keeping the eyes of your heart fixed on the master of the wind and waves even though you might feel like you are sinking.
Jesus commands us many times in the Bible, “Do not be afraid!” (366 times to be exact! A reminder for every day of the year!!) We have to make a conscious decision not to allow fear to paralyze us. Peter sank because he stopped walking. Faith means to keep walking even when your knees are knocking. We have to keep seeking Jesus and looking to Him to guide us and He will catch us every time we cry out to Him, just as he caught Peter.