I recently read the passage in Matthew 14 about when Jesus walked on the water. He sent his disciples ahead of him in the boat while he went up on the mountain to pray. By the time he's finished, the boat was a "considerable distance" from shore because of the wind. No big deal...Jesus just walks on out to them.
Meanwhile, back in the boat, the disciples look out and see this figure coming toward them over the water and freak out...thinking its a ghost! Jesus reassures them, "Hey, it's me. You don't need to be afraid." Now here is where the story gets really interesting, in my opinion. Peter (wonderful, impulsive Peter) says, "If it's you, then tell me to come." (I don't see how Jesus telling him to come proves it's him. Seems to me just the kind of thing a ghost would want you to do...jump in rough waters in the middle of the night and drown!...but I digress.) Anyway, so Jesus invites Peter to come and the passage says, "Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus." (vs.29) Wow! But it didn't take long and Peter remembered that this was craziness! "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord save me!" (vs.30) As soon as he looked around (took his eyes off Jesus) and let his mind evaluate his situation, he gave his faith over to fear and began to sink. Bummer. Jesus immediately catches Peter and says, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (vs.31)
This is the part of the story that bothered me. Jesus seems so critical of Peter. I look at this story and think..."Hey, at least Peter had enough faith to get out of the boat! He even took several steps! It seems to me his faith is admirable." It just bothered me that Jesus seemed to focus on his moment of doubt rather than his moment of faith. Especially considering how all the others just stood in the boat and watched.
I pondered a while and asked for some insight into this. One of the answers I got was how Jesus is not interested in the comparison game. My faith walk is not a contest between me and others. We each have our own road to walk and our own unique tests of faith and mine is not going to look the same as someone else's. Peter's is not going to be the same as John's. We cannot let another person's successes or failures taint our view of our own growth. In that moment, it was Peter who was stepping out in faith and therefore it was Peter who needed the Lord's words. Jesus needed Peter to see that his doubt was misplaced. In faith, Peter had miraculously walked on water! Jesus was with him...but Peter let his mind trick his emotions and he let his emotions steal his faith. He didn't have to sink at all! But when he did...as we (I) so often do/will Jesus was right there to catch him and speak to him in truth. :)
Another thing the Spirit showed me is this...When Jesus & Peter made it back to the boat and got on, Jesus' peace immediately came (no wind) and those on the boat who witnessed this whole thing all "worshiped him" (vs.33) It is a blessing to see a miracle from a distance and will lead to change and worship in those on the sidelines watching Jesus work around them. Even those who stayed on the boat were blessed by what had happened. How much better should it be for Peter! Not only did Peter get to witness a miracle of Jesus, he also got to participate in the miracle, even if just for a moment!
I dare say that I am tired of just being a boat believer. I want to be more like Peter. I would rather step out of the boat in faith and walk with Jesus on the water for a moment and then sink...than to never step out of the boat at all!
And maybe...the next time Jesus invites me to step out in faith, I'll be able to make it a little farther before Jesus has to catch me and remind me not to doubt.