Here we are, half-way through April. I’m beginning to lose count of how many days we have been “sheltering at home” for. People are calling this the “new normal” and I’m not liking it. This can never be “normal.” I don’t know about you, but personally, this week weighed a little bit heavier on Joe and myself. We were put to the test this week.
Joe found out that someone at his job tested positive for COVID-19. While this may not surprise anyone, the issue is that this person still went to work even though they were not feeling well. This brought up many questions, issues and possibilities. Here at home, Joe and I found ourselves feeling worried and anxious, evening losing a bit of sleep wondering what was going to happen next? After thinking about it and praying about it, I realized that there’s nothing that I can do about it. What happened, happened. We are wearing masks, washing our hands and keeping our distance. There are things that are out of our hands and at that point, all we can do is trust in the Lord.
Trusting is easier said than done. There are two people in the New Testament that I feel like I have something in common with; one is the Apostle Paul and the other is the Apostle Peter. What would I have in common with these great men of God you ask? Well, they both had moments of epic failure, moments of weaknesses, moments where they just messed things up. That is what I can relate 100% to. Not only did they mess things up, but they were not afraid to share their failures because in those moments, God was always glorified.
One well known story in the Gospels is when Jesus walks on water. In this story, we always remember that Jesus did the impossible, and then we remember that Peter had his moment, he could have been great, but while he was walking on the water, he looked away from Jesus and began to drown. The message usually turns into something like, don’t be a failure like Peter and keep your eyes on Jesus. Those of you who know this story, you know what I’m talking about. If not, let’s take a look at the story found in the Gospel of Matthew:
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. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33, NIV, www.biblegateway.com).
Jesus goes off on His own to pray and have some alone time with the Father, away from the crowd. The boat was not tied at the shore but was already towards the middle of the lake. Before dawn, so it was still dark out, Jesus began to walk on the water towards the boat. The disciples, who were the closest to Jesus and have seen Jesus already perform countless miracles, freak out! They were “terrified” and even thought that Jesus was a ghost. Really? A ghost? They were afraid. These guys walked with Jesus, and they felt fear.
Jesus’ response to this, is to tell them to “Take courage!” He tells them not to be afraid. Does it work? Not completely. There is still some doubt, and then Peter, the spokesperson for the twelve challenges Jesus (try not to challenge God my friends, because He will most likely call you out on it like He does here with Peter). Jesus tells Peter to come, go ahead, walk on the water to me and Peter does it! Peter has faith and trusts in Jesus enough to climb off the boat and begin walking on the water towards Jesus.
Here is where the story changes however. Peter then looks at the wind and begins to fear and begins to sink and then cries out to Jesus to be rescued. He took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to lose faith and doubt. Jesus was right there and questions him about it. We can all say that Peter failed, he didn’t trust Jesus so he sank. However, Peter walked on the water, even if it was for just a little bit. None of the other disciples even jumped off the boat- only Peter did that. That action takes faith.
I like to describe faith as trust plus action. Faith is not just belief, it is trusting and acting on that belief. During this time of fear and anxiety, we can all shout have faith! Trust in the Lord! However, putting that into practice, that’s where it really matters. This week was that moment for me in my home. This week, as I found myself overthinking and feeling fearful and anxious, I found myself on the boat. Jesus calls us to take courage and not fear, to trust in Him completely. That’s fine and dandy, but when I’m thinking about my husband, my kids, our health, our finances, I don’t feel very courageous or fearless. This is why I love the Word of God, because it doesn’t just encourage us and tells us what to do, it also shows us examples of individuals who were faced with difficult situations and perhaps didn’t do something that amazing. Peter sank, and perhaps there are moments where I may sink too. However, just as Jesus pulled Peter up out of the water and asked him “why did you doubt?” I can trust that Jesus will pull me up too and ask me, “why did you doubt?”
This is exactly what Jesus did. During this period of “shelter at home,” I have found myself trying to be brave and strong, trying to encourage and support others. I feel like this is the bold Peter side of me, Jesus, tell me to come to you and I’ll jump off the boat and trust in you. I have been looking and trusting, walking on that water towards Jesus. This week, I was also like Peter and felt the worries and doubt surround me like the wind and waves and I began to sink. Did I fail? Nope. I’m a regular person, just like Peter was. I can have moments where I am strong and impulsive in my faith and then I can have moments when I feel overwhelmed and in that moment I realize that I can’t do it on my own- Jesus is the one who keeps my head above water.
I don’t know what you are going through this week. Maybe you are doing well and have nothing to worry about (I highly doubt this), or maybe you are going crazy because your kids are home and need help with school and you are working from home and feel like you have to juggle everything. Maybe fear and doubt are surrounding you like the wind and the waves. Whatever the situation, whatever the circumstance, it’s okay to not be strong. It’s okay to feel like you can’t handle it. You were not meant to do this alone. You were not meant to walk on water by yourself. Jesus walks with you and when you feel like you are sinking, Jesus will rescue you the same way that He rescued Peter and the same way that He rescued me this week; all you need to do is cry out to Him.
I encourage you to take a moment today and think about what God has done in your life and then give thanks. Once you have done this, present your current fears, doubts and anxieties to Him. If you have been feeling overwhelmed and have been losing sleep, now is the time to ask Jesus to pull you out from the water and give you His peace. You are not alone. He is with you.