What if when you “get out of the boat”, you realize you walked into a hurricane?

I enjoy reading the account of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14. I love Peter. He is tenacious and bold. He is zealous. 

I married a man who is a lot like Peter. My husband would follow God to the ends of the earth. It doesn’t matter how crazy or “foolish” it might look. My husband will do if he feels the Spirit leading. “Peter’s” have little caution to them. They just go for it. That is why I love my husband and that is also why it is a good thing God paired him with someone like me. I remind him of the need for grocery money and little things like that. 

Anyway, I always had this image of a night sky, a boat full of disciples, Peter standing and calling out to Jesus who was not far from the boat. All while the water lay quietly beneath them. Scripture doesn’t support that though. Look up at verse 24, “But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary“. Contrary defined in the Greek Lexicon means “that which is over or against” (blueletterbible). 

Instead there is a storm. The disciples are working together to keep the boat on track. Across the waves, wind and (maybe) rain, they see a glimpse of what looks like a man or a ghost walking on water. Peter being seemingly nuts, calls out to this man. And not only does he call but he decides to get out of the boat and go to him. 

And as most church-going folks may remember. It doesn’t go so well from here. Peter begins to sink and cries out to the Lord.

 We like to preach the “get out of the boat” sermon or in a Sunday School lesson. But what happens when you get out of the boat with a burst of zeal and step out on to the water? There is a good chance, like Peter, you will realize:

I just stepped out of a boat into be a hurricane!!!” 

I’ll give you a real life example. Several years ago, Mark and I felt led to go with some friends and plant a church in another city. After looking for work in the church plant city for about 9 months to no avail, my husband was able to work out a “deal” with his current employer in our hometown. He was to work a 3/12 schedule (3 days 12 hours). He would live there 3 days and with us 4. We decided to pull the trigger, make the jump, and move. We left our home, family and jobs (our “boat”). As we are unloading the moving truck, however, Mark gets a call. His boss said, “the deal is off. I’ll see you at 8am on Monday (‘if you want to still have a job’ was implied). 

That was a big real-life gust of “wind”. It knocked us out a bit. It shock our faith. 

We ended up living apart for about 4 months until he took another “step out of the boat” and quit his job. He took a job cutting grass and moved to our church plant city with us.  

Peter took a big step of faith only to find himself drowning and trying to survive. Knowing “my Peter”, I imagine he did not even consider the wind and waves before getting out of the boat. Maybe he thought Jesus would calm the storm immediately. Who knows? I imagine he just wanted to be with Him and be apart of His work. 

Jesus did eventually stop the storm. But it was after they got back in the boat. 

When they got back in the boat, the wind stopped“. Matthew 14:32 

Huh? So obviously Jesus has the power to stop the storm. Why did he wait? Throw poor Peter a bone! He had the faith to get out. Why let him almost drown?  (the Lord is good to me to allow openness and honesty. I mean no disrespect in the wisdom of His ways). 

I know first hand what it feels like to be battered by those kinds of waves. I know what it feels like to be pumped and full of faith only to then feel the ground from under us give way. When you are gasping for air and struggling to survive, you feel sucker punched. It hurts. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t say, “Hello? Lord are you there? You said “Come!”… didn’t you?” (All while everybody else sits securely in a boat). 

 I don’t know why he waited. I don’t have that answer. But a couple of things stood out to me as I read this familiar story.

1. Jesus didn’t get mad at Peter – The story doesn’t wrap up with Jesus lecturing Peter about what is wise and responsible, but yet that Peter lacked faith. 

2. Jesus reached out his hand and took hold of him – The image of that is just so beautiful. And He does it still today. When you step out on faith, you get to be rescued and touched by the hand of God. 

3. Everyone worshiped Jesus – Others, not just Peter, saw the work of God and were led to worship Him. Everybody else was scared. They cried out in fear. Peter took a step of faith, took a risk and got out of the boat. In return everyone – not just Peter – everyone worshiped Jesus

So, I don’t know friends. When you “get out of the boat”, you will probably walk into a hurricane. But faith is more than taking one big step out of the boat. You have to keep walking, keep going. The wind is going to come. You are not alone. Jesus is there. He was there the whole time. 

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