My 16-year-old is driving now. He has a learner’s permit, and is doing some constant practice-driving en route to his driver’s test. I confess that, each time he swings my truck onto the entrance ramp of the highway, I instinctively clutch at the armrest with some trepidation. In those moments, my truck is hurtling down the highway at 70 miles per hour—and I am not in control of it. The only two options I have are either total trust in the boy or sheer panic. For a guy who’s wired like me, it’s hard to not be in control. But that’s usually where God puts me, anyhow.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 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.
Once again, just like in yesterday’s readings, Jesus puts His people in a situation in which they must have total trust in Him. It begins when He closes out the adventure with the feeding of the multitude. While He dismisses the crowd, He sends the disciples ahead in the boat. As for Himself, He simply goes up a mountain to pray for a bit. By the fourth watch of the morning (about 3-6 A.M.), the wind has picked up on the sea, and the disciples look up to see Jesus walking on the water. Despite everything they had seen during their time with Him, this had to still be pretty startling. He speaks comforting words to them, and Peter responds by saying, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (14.28). He has so much trust in Christ that he knows Jesus won’t command him to do something that would separate him from it. He leaps out from the boat, begins walking on the water—and then, suddenly notices that he’s walking on the water. As soon as he began to take stock of his physical “reality,” as opposed to keeping his eyes fixed on the Author and Finisher of his faith, Peter begins to sink. Jesus reaches out, saves him, and reminds him that he mustn’t waver on Whom he trusts. At the close of this incident, the disciples openly acknowledge Him as the Son of God.
I find it very interesting that Jesus has regularly devoted times of personal prayer. During His time on earth as a man, He knew that prayer was His communication with God the Father, and He always made time for it. If the Son of God—fully God Himself—can make time for regular, habitual prayer, why is it such a challenge to the busy modern man? We may also note that, just like the crowds in yesterday’s readings who were led into a desolate place before God provided for them, the disciples in today’s readings experience the same thing. They’re in a boat, separated from Jesus. When they see Him walking on the water, they are frightened at the possibility that it is a ghost of some sort. Often, when we’re following God’s will for our lives, we find ourselves in lonely places. It often doesn’t feel like God is there at all. When we trust that He is there, and He is leading us, we are empowered to do the impossible. And when He leads us into the realm of the impossible, we are to be reminded that our focus is solely on Him—not on our circumstances, our reality, our “real world.” As long as our eyes are on Him, and our trust is entirely in Him, we accomplish the impossible for His kingdom and glory. After all, the power to do the impossible comes from none other than God Himself.
So are your eyes on Him today, or on the wind-driven waves around you? Do you trust what He’s leading you into, or are you beginning to sink? Even now, He reaches out His hand to you and lifts you upward, reminding you that He is your Provider, Protector, Savior. Do you trust Him?