Recently, I was taking the kids and the dog for our morning walk. It's usually a really peaceful time for me. The kids love being outdoors (it calms them), and I get to enjoy a podcast, the sunshine, and exercise while my little guy makes faces at me from the stroller. On this particular day, I really, truly was enjoying the walk, but was thinking about what a stressful week and month it was going to be. Something in the podcast I was listening to suddenly hit a nerve and addressed exactly what I was anxious about, and I just burst into tears. It felt like I was carrying too much on my shoulders, and I just couldn't anymore. I was incredibly thankful in that moment for the oversized sunglasses I was wearing, so the 9:00 a.m. crowd of elderly folks on their adult tricycles with miniature dogs in the baskets couldn't tell I was crying.
The next day, on the same walk, taking the same route, I was thinking about what was causing me to worry so much that I broke down crying on a beautiful day, walking peacefully through a neighborhood with my 2 favorite kids. Out of nowhere, the image of Jesus and Peter walking on water popped into my brain.
It's a Bible story I've known since my Sunday School days. Jesus went off by himself to pray, while the disciples were battling some tough waves on a boat. Before dawn, Jesus went out to meet them, walking on the water. The disciples couldn't figure out what they were seeing, and naturally became afraid.
"27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”29 “Come,” he said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”" (Matthew 14:27-33)
In that moment, I knew I was Peter. I knew I had taken my eyes off of Jesus.
Life is full of wind and waves. Sickness, financial burdens, overwhelm, waiting on an answer t
o prayer, job stress, and countless other issues demand our attention. The devil wants us to think we will surely drown because of the wind and waves. After all, humans can't walk on water. It's just not possible.
And yeah, when we focus on how we personally can overcome the wind and waves, we are found wanting. A mere human holds no dominion over such forces of nature. I personally do not have the power to defy gravity or reverse the laws of physics. I'm only human. So I sink.
When Peter focused on Jesus, he had no reason to worry because he didn't even see the wind and waves. All he saw was his Savior who was making amazing, impossible things happen for him. All he had was faith and gratitude and joy. The moment he took his eyes off Jesus, he had reason to doubt and fear, because he saw what he perceived to be an inescapable reality.
But the reality is that Jesus is the Son of God. He was present at the creation of this world, and he holds it in the palm of his hand. And I think he can't help me overcome a little bit of stress? I think he can't provide for my every need? I think he's left me to fight my battles alone? You of little faith. Why do you doubt?
I'm a slow learner. I've taken my eyes off of Jesus before, and it hasn't gone well for me. But my Shepherd is reaching out his hand for me. He's serene, confident, strong. I need only keep my eyes on him.