Stepping out onto the water

Daily Readings: Genesis 35-36, Psalm 15, Matthew 14
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn 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?”

-Matthew 14:23-31

I don’t know about you but I frequently feel a lot like Peter! Many times in my life I have prayed, “Lord, draw me near to you. Fill me with your spirit.” I pray that God would let me walk with him guiding my steps throughout the day. I pray that he would put people in my path that I can influence. I pray for miracles in the lives of people I love. And in all of these things I pray the underlying prayer that Peter was really saying today, “Lord, help me to believe it is possible!”

Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, had seen numerous miracles performed by Jesus, heard his teaching, knew that Jesus should be able to help him walk on the water as well, but there was a battle raging inside of him. He was seeing all of this and believing it was possible because it was right there in front of him, but couldn’t eliminate his doubts completely. Is this really possible?

He took the first couple of steps out onto the waves. Then the wind came…

Immediately doubt flooded back into him. His flesh reminded him that this shouldn’t be possible. He was just a human. He can’t walk on water! The enemy attacked his confidence and faith with everything he had.

How often is that the exact story with us? How often do we have the spirit fill us up, only to have our faith rocked when the winds start to whip around us?

So how do we cling to the truth? How do we remain filled with the spirit? How do we fight back against the wind and the waves?

In Psalm 15 today David gives us a great place to start! He asks a very similar question.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.

I read this today and reflected back on the fact that, so often, the wind and the waves that cause me to have my faith shaken are self-inflicted. They generally come about from me rebelling against the life that God wants me to live. God knew that we were incapable of perfection so he sent Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice to pay the price for our sins on our behalf. In giving our lives over to him, our salvation is guaranteed. That doesn’t change when we hit these bumps in the road.

However, just how filled with the spirit we feel on a day to day basis, how close we feel to God, how peaceful and inspiring our walk with him is, the miraculous works he is able to do through us; those all rise and fall depending on our faith.

I read this Psalm today and my first thought was, “Praise God that I don’t have to be perfect at all of these to maintain salvation! I would be in trouble!”

My second thought was, “There is a ton of room for growth for me in some of these areas! I want to dwell in his sacred tent. I want to live on his holy mountain. I want to step out on the waves with Jesus without having my faith shaken.” And I spent time praying that God would help me with some of these items David listed off that are current struggles for me.

So what is holding you back currently? What stumbling blocks have you been tripping over recently that have been causing you to sink a bit in the waves and kept you from dwelling on his holy mountain? Jesus is ready and willing to call you out onto the water. You just have to have the faith to take the first step and trust him through the wind!

Thought to ponder

What self-inflicted winds and waves in my life are currently keeping me from walking out boldly onto the water?

As always, thank you for reading! I always love your comments. If you think this post could be encouraging to others, feel free to share it as well!

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