I have greatly appreciated and enjoyed our church’s first Bible study since my moving here. Kris Gerrard, our spiritual growth coordinator, and Dr. Robin McFee have been leading the sessions. One of the great things about studying the Bible, God’s Living Word to us, and especially Bible studies led by someone else, is that oftentimes you hear God’s speaking to you in a new way that you’ve never thought of before. That’s how God’s Spirit works, right? Calling and transforming us into a new creation. I’ve certainly experienced that in the faithful study and conversation we’ve had.
Perhaps the most impactful insight for me during our deep dive on Matthew 14: 22-33, the walking on water scene, has centered around Peter’s first step.
What was Peter’s first step? We could say that Peter’s first step was a frightened step onto the water.Our study group has wondered, though, whether Peter’s first faithful step was instead getting into the boat.Imagine that.Jesus has commanded you to take the boat across a large lake, without him in it.How is Jesus going to cross the water?It took a lot of faith for him and the other disciples to get in the boat in the first place.Once there, Jesus could lead them in a classroom lesson of how to walk on water in faith.Getting in the boat is no small thing.We’ve also wondered if perhaps Peter’s first step was putting down his fishing nets and following Jesus.Peter had no real reason to follow Jesus. Other than being baptized by John, Jesus had done nothing to that point to be known, let alone followed. In many ways, then, whatever the first faithful step is in following Jesus, it doesn’t mean water walking. The first step might seem small, insignificant, but if it takes us in the direction of Jesus the Christ, our life will be changed forever and, one day, we might find ourselves walking on water in the Spirit.
Along the same lines, Dr. McFee asked an obvious question that, nonetheless, I’m not sure I had ever heard before: when did Peter first see the winds? We know that Peter “saw the wind” and then got distracted from his water-walking journey and sank. Okay, but didn’t Peter see the winds before he got out of the boat? Why did they suddenly scare and distract him? He knew what he was getting into when he stepped out toward Jesus, trusting in Christ’s power to keep him afloat. That simple and obvious question gave me a whole new appreciation for Peter’s courage and trust: not just did he get out of the boat hoping to do the impossible with God’s power, but he did it knowing that the chaos winds of life were swirling.
How often do we tell God to wait because what we think God has called us to do is too challenging? Or because we are too stressed by the craziness of life? Peter gives us the example that we should follow: precisely at the craziest times are when we should focus on Christ and walk toward him. The power of God will keep us afloat. If we put our whole trust in God, we can do the impossible—though it is not we who do it. Yes, sometimes the craziness of life will distract us, but Jesus will pick us up. More than that, notice that Peter has to get back to the boat somehow. Looks like Peter walked on water twice. So once in a while we may get distracted, may start to sink, but then put your life in God’s hands all the more and you will be rescued to again do the impossible. God’s grace is powerful stuff!