I just LOVE the apostle Peter in the New Testament! Why? Probably, because studying him gives me hope. I want to be a strong Christian for the Lord, but often, I feel like a floundering mess–especially when it comes to worry. Peter was like that too, and looking at his journey toward unwavering faith always gives me a spiritual boost. You see, Peter didn’t start out as a MAN OF EXTREME FAITH, he had a worrying heart. You can see his struggle in Matthew 14. When Jesus was walking on the water, Peter jumped out of the boat and started walking on the water toward him. Cool, right? Yeah, for a while. Then Peter looked around and saw the big waves. Immediately, he grew frightened and began to sink.
In many ways, I can relate to Peter. I feel like I spend my time wavering between faith and fear. One moment, I’m walking on water–the next, I’m sinking fast. This troubles me. In fact, it troubles me BIG TIME. I want to be a woman of FAITH–capital letter faith–but how do I get there? I’ve thought a lot about it over the last few years, and I’ve come to a conclusion. I think Peter’s experience in Matthew 14 holds the key.
“. . .Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. . .Jesus spake unto them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.’ And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And [Jesus] said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter was come down out of the ship he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. BUT WHEN HE SAW THE WIND BOISTEROUS, HE WAS AFRAID; AND BEGINNING TO SINK, HE CRIED, SAYING, ‘LORD SAVE ME.’ And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, ‘O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?'” (Matthew 14:25b-31).
I think Peter got into trouble when he took his eyes off Jesus and put them on the boisterous wind and waves. When he saw what was going on around him, he became afraid, and his fear caused him to sink. And if I’m going to be honest, that’s my biggest problem. When I step out in faith, I tend to take my eyes off Jesus and start looking around. I try to estimate how high the waves are around me. I peer down at the water and wonder if the sharks below are going to nibble my toes. I frantically look back at the boat and try to figure out if I can get back to safety if things go wrong. I wonder if I’ll be able to swim, and I worry that drowning will hurt. I look up at the gathering storm clouds, spot a waterspout, and FREAK OUT. I glance back at Jesus, trying to figure out how far away he is, and I wonder why ON EARTH he isn’t running toward me. Scared out of my wits, I take my eyes off Jesus and search the water for octopus, giant squids, and piranhas. As my eyes dart everywhere, my worried thoughts spiral out of control. When I look down at my toes again to see if the sharks have discovered them, I realize I’m up to my knees in seawater and sinking fast.
Friends, let’s be honest–life is scary. REALLY SCARY. I learned that when I became sick. But the reality is that Jesus LOVES us, and he is bigger and stronger than this scary world. When Peter cried for help, Jesus immediately stretched forth his hand and caught him. I love that part of the scripture. I love the fact that Jesus was standing so close to Peter that all he had to do was reach out a hand. When I’m miring in worry, I tend to think that Jesus is miles away, but in reality, he’s right beside me ready to step in and save me. Sometimes he saves me with instant deliverance, sometimes, he holds me close as I walk through a problem. But he is always there.
I’m so tired of being a seesaw Christian. Filled with faith one minute. Wracked with worry the next. It’s exhausting. It isn’t fun. I hate it. And it MAKES NO SENSE!!! God has shown himself faithful so many times. When I start to worry, I think of the Children of Israel on their way to the Promise Land. They saw the Red Sea part, they saw water flowing from a rock, they saw God’s presence in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They witnessed great miracles, and yet when it came time to enter the Promise Land, they were worried and afraid. I can relate, and I’m ashamed that I do. God is so awesome. He is so loving and kind. Why would he bring me this far to drop me? Why wouldn’t he take me all the way? Who cares if there are waterspouts, sharks, and piranhas? Who cares if I’m out of my comfort zone? Jesus is right beside me, and he’s more than capable of protecting me from giant squid.
When I keep my eyes on Jesus, I feel peace. When I take them off, I feel anxiety. So what is the answer to my worry problem? STOP FOCUSING ON THE PROBLEM AND START FOCUSING ON JESUS. What more needs to be said? It’s a simple solution, but it’s so hard to implement. Gratefully, I don’t have to try to implement it alone. Jesus is right beside me. All I have to do is stop looking at the circling sharks and pray, “Oh, Lord, please help me keep my eyes on you today!”