We've gone to the beach a few times this summer. (And oh, how I am going to miss my summer!) One of the first times we went, my son was hesitantly walking out by the shore. And then he had one of those "child-like-faith-moments." He turned to me and asked if it was true—if Jesus could really walk on the water. Then he wanted to know if I thought he could walk on water, too, just like "that other boy Jesus knew" (which I am assuming he was talking about Peter). Now how do you answer a question like that? I told him that I thought Jesus would probably let him walk on the water. Eli tested it out—it didn't work—and he decided that maybe he should try it again on another day.
So I read Matthew 14:22-36. I read Mark 6:45-52 and John 6:16-21 as well, and while they are good and add details and further understanding of the first part of the Matthew passage, they don't speak of "that other boy Jesus knew."
So here are the disciples in a boat at night, alone, because Jesus had "escaped" the crowds to pray on his own for a bit. Early in the morning (the fourth watch= between 3 and 6AM), Jesus goes to meet them, walking on the lake . . .yah, pretty normal, right? The disciples were terrified, thinking it was a ghost (falling for popular Jewish superstition, rather than believing the same God who, through Jesus, multiplied food to feed 5000 just hours ago!) Jesus told them not to be afraid,--"It is I" (vs. 27). And then the story adds in this piece that the other two Gospel accounts don't mention. Peter asks for proof. Jesus tells him to walk on water and he just ups and gets out of the boat. And all is fine. His foot stays up. He's standing there on the waves. He starts walking toward Jesus. But then the reality of the whole situations bombards his thoughts—he notices the water and the wind and perhaps the absurdity of it all—and he starts to sink. He cries out for help, and Jesus immediately helps him. And asks him: "Why did you doubt?"(vs. 31).
Oh, I know exactly how Peter felt! "Why did you doubt?" I believe in that same Lord that the disciples got to become intimate friends with. I may not have seen the miracles that are recorded in the Bible—no loaves to feed 5000 in my repertoire of memories, but I can tell you so many instances where it could only have been God working, where the impossible happened by His grace alone. But I, like Peter, so often doubt the Creator of the universe—the one who sets the planets in orbit, who sets the seasons to cycle, who makes the sun rise each morning and set each evening, who takes care of the little ants and beetles and the little flowers caught in the blackberry bushes. The one who ordered all of our days before they came to be and the one who neither slumbers nor sleeps, but promises us our daily bread. The one who can hear our every prayer and who is the beginning and the end. For some reason, I lose my focus and notice how "God's plan" isn't logical, doesn't make sense, and takes sheer faith. Just like Peter, I fall.
But I am thankful for my God who is not only in control of everything, even in my doubt, but one who immediately reaches out to me and saves me. Who brings my focus back to where it should be. Who forgives my lack of faith. Who continues to be the great I Am—now and forever. And I can't help but respond in the same way the disciples did, but to worship him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God" (vs. 33).
I'm working on my "child-like-faith" moments. I'm thankful for my son who can demonstrate God's message to me so clearly. And I'm thankful for such a clear example from him—to try it out another day. To exercise my faith again . . . and again . . . and again.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.