So many of these lessons are great reminders to come back to. I have lived them out over and over again. In the last months I have reminded myself to just keep walking and get my eyes off the storm, because there have been some storms! Grateful for this reminder today as I watch some of the gales pass by.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." Matthew 14:25-31
I am grateful for the gift of books. Walking down the path on which God has led others can give such depth of understanding. In John Ortberg’s If You Want to Walk on Water You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat has a very encouraging chapter for those needing hope. In chapter 5, “Seeing the Wind,” he builds the truths of water walking out of the story of Joseph, one of the most resilient characters of the Bible.
Some of Ortberg’s main points come in descriptions of resilient people: they exercise control in stress-filled situations; they remain committed to their values even when tempted to compromise; they find meaning and purpose in the storms of life. “Sometimes God comes not in the mountaintop, but in the storm.”
I was particularly struck by the description of faith: “Faith happens when you keep walking even though you see the wind.” Peter had faith to walk on the water when he kept his eyes on Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he became afraid and began to sink!
As we walk through life it is so easy to look at the storm with its swirling winds and awesome power. It is easy for me to spend my nights of tossing and turning focused on the “what ifs” and the “what abouts” as they relate to my life’s situation. I can easily see the pain, the betrayal, the struggle, and the hopelessness and realize that I’m on a slide to despair. I sink!
But Jesus calls me to look at him. To realize with my heart, soul, and mind that he is the one who walks in the storm. With him I don’t need to be afraid. With my focus on him, the one who “alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 9:8-10), I don’t have to fear. I can walk on water!
I find as I keep walking through this storm of life, though, I need him to remind me to keep my focus. Like my six-year-old daughter who can take 20 minutes to consume a piece of toast because she loses focus, I, too, am prone to wander. I need Jesus to tell me to come to him on the water. I need him to remind me of just who he is, and therefore who I am.
“Faith happens when you keep walking even though you see the wind.”
Tell me to come to you on the water.
Whisper your awesome power through the din of the storm.
Calm the raging wind within and without … help me heed your “do not fear.”