Summary: When we feel the storms of life, we need to remember this story of Peter stepping out of the boat and walking toward Jesus, and the leap of faith he took. If he could do it, so can we.
Three local ministers decided to go fishing one day. They got into a boat, went a short distance out on the lake, and started fishing. After a few hours, one minister ran out of bait. Since they were close to the shore, he stepped over the side of the boat and walked across the water to the bait shop. He bought some more bait, walked back to the boat and got back into the boat.
A little while later, the second minister ran out of bait. He stepped over the side of the boat and walked to the bait shop. He bought some more bait, walked back to the boat and got back in.
A few minutes later, the third minister, who was new to the area, also ran out of bait. He stepped over the side of the boat, and almost drowned!!!!! The other two ministers pulled him back into the boat. One of them said to the other, “I KNEW we should have shown him where the stepping stones were!!!!!!” (Pause, esp. if the congregation laughs)
Matthew 14:22-33 is a story about taking a leap of faith. Peter took a leap of faith by literally getting out of the boat when he heard Jesus’ call. This same call goes out to all of us today. We are called to take a leap of faith when Jesus calls us. It means getting out of the boats that we call our comfortable lives. Peter left the safety and security of the boat to face the uncertainty of Jesus’ call. When we leave our boats, we have to keep our focus on Jesus. Peter began to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus, and like Peter, we will fail in our mission if we lose sight of the reason for our mission-Jesus.
Faith is never constant. It comes and goes with the varying circumstances in our lives. We will have our miraculous moments in life, our mountaintop experiences. But mountaintops prepare us for the valleys of life, and calm waters prepare us for the storms of life. Peter is the all too human representative of us all-daring, then doubting, and finally dependent on the Lord for what we need most, our salvation.
When we ride out the storms of life, we can take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus is just an arm’s length away. The waves don’t bother him, and he is not shaken by the currents. He will help us conquer the storm if we focus on him instead of the storm. He is our anchor in times of trouble. In the words of the old hymn:
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love
There are times when we might think that we have lost Jesus, but he never loses sight of us. When faith reigns, fear has no place. There is no shame in asking for help from Jesus. When we ask for help from him, we can look back on any tough times and be comforted. We can continue forward with courage knowing that the blessed assurance we have in his presence is unconditional.
We are to build our faith on what the Word of God says. We don’t just step out and say, “By faith, I want this. By faith, I demand that.” Instead, we are to ask ourselves, “What does the Scripture teach? What should I be praying for? What should I be asking for?” Then we must pray accordingly. That’s what Peter did, and as long as he had his eyes on Jesus, he was able to do the impossible. (Pause)
Faith is the refusal to panic, especially since there is no safety net. Faith is a quiet certainty that God keeps his promises, especially the promise to not leave us or forsake us. When our faith lapses, all we have to do is call out to Jesus through prayer. If Jesus found it necessary to pray, what more motivation do we need to pray, especially when life is difficult? When we walk in faith with the master of the wind and waves, we will survive. When we choose to focus on our cares and worries, we raise our worries to the same status as the promises of Jesus. But, which is more important-the ability of Jesus to care for us or the concerns we have about our circumstances?
The storms of life can be best managed through prayer. Jesus spent a great deal of his time in prayer. He made this a regular practice because he knew he could do nothing apart from his father. We need to have the same mindset. If we are rushing through our days, never taking the time to stop, pray and listen to God, we will become exhausted easily and burned out with life. Our refreshment begins with an intimate relationship with the Lord, and it can only be accomplished through prayer and frequent time spent in his presence.