Life is a Faith Journey – part 2

What drives us forward in our day to day lives?  What forces serve to motivate and fuel our desires and passions?  And what factors serve to demotivate and inhibit – possibly even stopping us cold in our tracks?  Not long ago I was thinking how both faith and fear play critical roles in the choices we make and the actions we take.  The Bible contains many examples of both…as well as the roles they played in the lives of those individuals.  Among the stories that comes to mind is the story of Peter – and the time he walked on water (this story is recorded in Matthew 14 beginning at verse 22).

 

Jesus and his disciples had just ministered to a crowd of over 5000 people.  The disciples had just witnessed the miracle of Him taking a single lunch (consisting of five small loaves of bread and two fish); multiplying that one lunch so as to feed the whole crowd, and having twelve baskets of food left over.  Right after this meal, as Jesus prepared to dismiss the crowd, he told the disciples to get in the boat and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  Though it’s not expressly stated as such, I imagine the disciples expected to meet up with Him later…presumably on the other side.  Certainly, they were not expecting to see him as soon as they did.

 

Later, in the night, and while the boat was some distance from land, it was being buffeted and pushed about by both the waves and the wind.  The disciples, it would seem, had their hands full managing the boat and dealing with the conditions.  Suddenly, in the midst of their efforts to control the boat and make it to shore, they see a figure walking toward them on the water and they were terrified as they thought it was a ghost.  Though they did not recognize him, the figure coming toward them was Jesus.  In order to allay their fears, Jesus calls out to them, identifies himself and tells them they have nothing to fear. 

 

Matthew 14:28-32 records the rest of the story thusly (quoting from the Voice):

Jesus: 27 Be still. It is I. You have nothing to fear.

Peter: 28 Lord, if it is really You, then command me to meet You on the water.

Jesus: 29 Indeed, come.

Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water and began walking toward Jesus. 30 But when he remembered how strong the wind was, his courage caught in his throat and he began to sink.

Peter: Master, save me!

31 Immediately Jesus reached for Peter and caught him.

Jesus: O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?

32 Then Jesus and Peter climbed in the boat together, and the wind became still.” 

The story concludes with the disciples worshipping Him and acknowledging that Jesus truly is the Son of God.

 

As I read and think about this account, I’m left pondering several questions which I believe are worthy of consideration:

1. Looking at it from their point of view, I can see why the disciples might not have expected Jesus when He appeared on the water…and therefore not recognized Him.  It was unlikely they had been told to head over to the other side of the sea – and on the way, meet-up somewhere in the middle.  Elsewhere in the Bible there are references to the fact that Jesus can and will come when we are not expecting Him.  “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:44.  Might this have application in my own life – particularly in the midst of difficult and trying times?

2. Despite the reassurance Jesus offered, Peter challenged Him to, “command me to meet You on the water.“  When told to “come” Peter stepped out of the boat.  At that moment he must have had sufficient conviction to overcome any fear and step out in faith.  What reassurances or convictions are needed for me to take that first step – especially if I think it’s the right thing to do?

3. It seems Peter took several steps successfully and then, “he remembered how strong the wind was, his courage caught in his throat and he began to sink.”  Apparently he allowed fear back into his mind and his faith vanished.  After rescuing him, Jesus asked him, “Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?”  As I move forward in my endeavour, are there times when I allow fear to sabotage and undermine my faith?  Has it perhaps sunk me or necessitated a rescue?

 

Despite how it might appear, everyone goes through difficult and tough times at various points in their life.  Sometimes difficult choices and decisions are the order of the day.  Perhaps you, like me, might want to consider some of these thoughts and questions in considering your own life journey.

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