They had witnessed a miracle. Taking five loaves and two fish, Jesus fed over 5,000 men, along with an unknown number of women and children. With their own eyes, the disciples had seen Jesus provide and care for a multitude of his followers. Jesus then sent the disciples out into a boat while he dismissed the crowds and went up the mountain alone to pray. While he was there, a storm came upon the water, tossing the boat carrying the disciples about on the waves. In the morning, Jesus came to them, walking upon the water. In their fear, they couldn’t believe their eyes. They thought they were seeing a ghost, but our Lord reassured them: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
In his boldness, Peter demanded proof that it was truly the Lord. “Come” Jesus said and Peter began to walk on the water. Then the wind kicked up and Peter was afraid. He feared, he doubted. He found himself beginning to sink. In his mercy, Jesus reached out and caught Peter. Jesus then asked the disciples: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When Jesus entered the boat, the winds ceased, and they worshipped him saying “Truly You are the Son of God.”
How quickly the disciples’ faith turned to doubt and fear. They had seen Jesus cure the sick, heal the lame, give sight to the blind. They watched as he took the loaves and fish, blessed them, and fed the multitude. Yet when the waves came up and Jesus was nowhere to be seen, they began to lose their faith. They were far out on the water, away from the safety of the shore and the sight of their Savior. Yet Jesus had not really left them. Although they could not see him, he was still nearby.
I understand what the disciples experienced. Things are going great. The waters are calm. I feel Jesus’ presence. I’m out dancing on the water. Then BAM! The waves come, the wind knocks me off my feet. I begin to drown in a sea of fear and doubt. “Where are you, Lord? Come, save me” I cry. I want his immediate, undoubted presence to comfort me, to catch me just as he caught Peter that day on the turbulent sea. And I don’t think I’m the only who has ever felt this way.
In this passage, we also read that Jesus does not come immediately into their presence. He waited until morning, leaving the disciples to deal with the storm for a little while: “And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.” Perhaps, he was testing their faith. Perhaps, he knew there was nothing to truly fear. Whatever the reason, Jesus waited. Once Jesus was back in the boat with them “the wind ceased.” The storm was over. All was calm again.
So too it is with us. Sometimes we must let our faith carry us through the storms of life, trusting that when we cry “Lord, save me!” he will be there to catch us in his loving arms. No matter what life throws at us, those things – big and little – that cause our faith to give way to fear and doubt, are stilled by our faith in Jesus. Although we cannot always see him, he is there, waiting to catch us, if we but call on his name. Living in that knowledge, we can dance on the waves!
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Great and Gracious God, grant us the strength to overcome our fears and doubts. Let us trust fully in your promised presence in our lives. When we waver, remind us that you sent your only Son to save us, and that the storms of this life are nothing compared to the love we have in you. Help us stand and dance on the waves of this life. Amen
Learning to dance on the waves,
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