Today’s reading is Matthew 14. This chapter tells of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand and Jesus walking on water. It’s a lot to fit into one post! One thing that really stood out to me in this reading is what Jesus said to Peter about doubt and faith.
Verses 25-33: And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
I’m struck by Peter’s actions. He wants Jesus to prove himself to them – and pretty much challenges Jesus. So Jesus tells Peter to come out onto the water. What really strikes me here is that Peter does it! He has enough faith to step out of the boat and start walking toward Jesus. His faith there is strong and his eyes are on Jesus. But then Peter notices the wind (and waves, no doubt) and his fear takes over. He takes his eyes off of Jesus and begins to sink. But he cries out to Jesus to save him before he drowns, and IMMEDIATELY Jesus reaches out and saves him.
It’s hard to put into words how I see this story in reflection to my own faith. It’s not a one-time thing – it’s a daily (and usually multiple-times-daily) situation. I love Jesus. I am a believer and a Christ-follower. There are times when my faith feels very strong. But the very second I lose sight of Him, things spiral out of control – I begin to drown. And that panic and desperation from not being in control cause me to cry out to Him for help. And this is what I really love – He immediately reaches out to me. Jesus didn’t let Peter drown, but he did let him begin to sink when he lost focus. I could give you hundreds of stories of how I’ve begun to sink when I lost focus too. Probably more, if I took the time to really think about it. But what really counts is the end of each and every one of those untold anecdotes – Jesus has never failed me when I’ve turned my eyes back to Him.
Peter’s faith was like mine – small and incomplete, mixed with trust and doubt. And no matter how strong or weak our faith might be, our Savior is one who will rescue us regardless of our struggle with doubt. His faithfulness to us is not dependent on ours to Him.
My grandma’s favorite hymn is “Great is Thy Faithfulness” – it’s been swimming around in my head while I wrote this post. If it’s not one you know, listen to it today if you get a chance.